Two-Way Digital Communication for Private Clubs
Many club leaders can remember a time when having a website was uncommon among private clubs. Today, most clubs have websites, and many are also utilizing this website to provide a private members-only web portal. The most technologically progressive clubs will also offer mobile applications to their membership.
But clubs vary widely in what members can do on their website or app. Some are simply repositories for information such as board minutes and dress codes, while others offer more functionality such as paying statements or booking appointments.
The most common approach to these digital channels is one-way: club-to-member. In fact, most clubs have their club-to-member digital communications well-sorted, making good use of email and their websites to communicate important information to their membership.
But a surprising number of clubs do not allow fully digital two-way communication, lacking ways for members to digitally communicate back with the club. Instead, most clubs rely on a mix of digital and analog communication channels for member-to-club communication, which centers primarily around reserving the club’s facilities and services. For example, the club may accept phone and email reservations for dining and events, only phone calls for the spa, and allow walk-ups for golf. The lack of consistency can cause frustration for members and can also become unwieldy for staff to manage.
This issue can be solved with an elegant and advanced mobile application with comprehensive reservations functionality. In addition to providing clarity to members in the form of a one-stop-shop for reservations, a good mobile app provides the following benefits:
- Better advanced planning. Members know exactly where to find information on what’s happening at the club, and it’s on a device in their pocket at any time. This lets them plan and book services right when they think about it, rather than having to wait for a convenient time to call or dig through a newsletter when they get home. When members plan, it allows the club to plan, improving logistics such as staffing.
- Increased revenue and utilization. The easier it is for members to book services, the more services they will use, increasing revenue for the club. Even amenities with good utilization such as golf rounds, where members may be accustomed to simply walking up to play, can increase if members can be assured that their tee time is booked in advance. You can also use the mobile application to notify members of newly offered services, get the word out and then capture that interest via a reservation request.
- Improved member satisfaction. A stronger 2-way digital communication channel results in more engaged and happier members, period. That’s the goal for any club, and worth the investment in member-facing technology.
So, what makes a good mobile application for two-way digital communication?
- Visually appealing, non-hidden sections. The hidden, “hamburger menu” concept for mobile applications is outdated. Modern interfaces have come up with a way to show every important area right on the front page, so members know exactly where to tap.
- Optimized reservation-request flows. An advanced app reduces friction by offering intuitive flows for making requests that make sense for the service or amenity being booked, i.e., the process to reserve a table at a restaurant is different for booking a golf round. But the overall look and feel remains consistent so users know what to expect.
- Reminders and push notifications. Good apps close the loop and provide confirmations both via email as well as push notifications, and may even have the option for text message reminders to ensure the member attends their reservation. The app will also provide a customized calendar for the member to view all their bookings in one place and allow them to add the events to their phone’s main calendar.
Does your club currently use a mobile application, and if so, is it meeting the mark on its reservation functionality? How could improving digital two-way communication support your club’s goals?