A Member’s Perspective on Platinum Club Digital Member Experience
As a member of two platinum clubs, as well as the founder of a technology company that specializes in club member experience and operations, I am frustrated that the clubs I belong to have not made more of an effort to enhance their digital member experience.
Considering the digital amenities are lacking at my clubs, which are considered two of the top clubs in the nation, I feel it’s a safe assumption that they’re not the only ones behind the times. My frustrations at each club are different when it comes to their digital amenities, but the common themes are difficulty in booking reservations and not being able to utilize the amenities when my schedule allows.
At both clubs, members reserve tee times by being directed to a third-party site. We also book dining reservations through a third party. While I am glad to have online booking ability, the navigation of the sites is not user friendly or intuitive, so I always have to hunt around to find what I’m looking for. And the connection between these tools is bulky, requiring me to reenter my information twice. I know there are technologies available that can keep all this functionality into one streamlined platform (because that’s what we offer at Cobalt Software.) And yet the technology operators at these clubs think they can do better by picking various off the shelf solutions and plugging them together.
Neither of my clubs offer online booking for court times, spa or salon appointments, personal training sessions or group fitness classes. This is a missed opportunity that would save time for members and club staff and provide a better member experience and club offering. For example, the spa is only open during daytime business hours, so if I decide afterhours that I would like to make an appointment, I must create a calendar reminder to call the next day. In the same amount of time, I could book an appointment myself on the app.
My other issue is with how these clubs distribute access to the most popular events and amenities. At one club, to book for any popular holiday event (i.e., Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, etc.) they will list a date and time they’ll start accepting reservations and a phone number to call to book. You either will get put on hold and hope they come back to you in the order you called in, or the number will be busy, and you must keep calling until you get connected and someone puts you on hold, or lets you know if the event registration is full or not. Sometimes you are allowed to email your requests, but it’s still a black box with members having no visibility into how the reservations are distributed.
The other premiere club I’m a member of is a social club with a large local membership. Due to construction for renovations, there are limited dining options open, so it is extremely difficult to get reservations for desirable times. It creates the impression that some members log on right when reservations are released and book them all up. Having a lottery feature would give members assurance that the club is fairly distributing reservations. It would also give the club staff less of a headache from members complaining that they can’t access club facilities during season.
And for any clubs who think their members are ‘too old’ to want these digital experiences, let me say that the perception that club members are not technology savvy due to age is a rhetoric that needs to be squashed.
I’m in my mid-60’s and I do everything on my iPhone. I check my banking and send payments on an app, why would I not be capable of seeing my club statement and paying my balance on an app? I make reservations for every restaurant wherever I travel through reservations apps, why would I not want to have that ability at my clubs? I purchase tickets for concerts and events through apps and show digital tickets at the venues, why would I not want that ability for events at my club?
Not to mention, the younger generations at my club most certainly understand my frustration. So do the employees at the club who are fielding phone calls and emails. With better digital solutions, the experience all around could be better for everyone.
That’s why I founded Cobalt Software: to create the next generation of club management technology. A modern, web-based and mobile-native platform to provide everything members and club leaders need to provide an exceptional member experience. Receiving BoardRoom Magazine's 2022 Excellence in Achievement Award for Best Mobile Application assures me we are on the right track.
I’m looking forward to partnering with forward-thinking club leaders who recognize and understand that they deserve better than the existing various providers have been able to deliver.
Your club members deserve a modern experience that can support the next generation of your club experience.