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The Top 5 Trends We Saw at the 2017 CMAA World Conference

The RCS Hospitality Group team was proud to participate in this year's CMAA Annual World Conference in Orlando Florida last week, and if you came by our booth to say hi or inquire about our services, thank you! It is always invigorating to be exposed to all the new ideas, products, and services that are on display at the Expo and fun to catch up with friends and colleagues old and new. We posted several photos and videos to our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts so if you missed those feel free to check them out.

After a week to reflect on everything we saw, here are the top five trends (in no particular order) that stood out at the CMAA Conference this year.

1. Student Groups

Wow! We were so pleased to see so many (and such enthusiastic!) student groups at this year's Conference. It's always exciting to see the quality and talent of our emerging leaders and this year was no exception. These young men and women are the future of our industry, and it's inspiring to see their visions for the clubs of tomorrow.

2. The Member Experience

The "member experience" is always a hot topic at Conference, but was even more so this year. Many of the educational seminars encouraged managers to look at everything through the member's eyes--processes and procedures that may work for managers might not be working for the member.

Name recognition in particular is a very important aspect of providing a service experience that makes members feel welcome, comfortable, understood, and important, which is easily enabled by the next major trend we saw...

3. GPS Technology to Enhance the Member Experience

While GPS locator data is nothing new, the ways that clubs are beginning to utilize this technology is. As mentioned, consistent name recognition is a goal that all club staff should be striving for, but how can we enable that so efficiently that each member-staff interaction can begin with a personalized greeting? Beacon technology using GPS locator data may be the answer.

Imagine this: Dr. Pauley is on his way to the club. Since his club has an app that uses beacon technology, when he is approximately two blocks away his phone pings the valet staff with a notification of his imminent arrival. By the time he pulls up the valet can be properly informed and ready to greet Dr. Pauley by name, beginning his experience that day on a great note.

4. GPS Technology as a Revenue Driver

Beacon technology communication isn't just a one way street, however. Clubs can also use this feature to proactively communicate by sending informative push notifications to members' phones once they're within a certain vicinity of the club--things like daily specials, happy hour promotions, club notices, etc.

Imagine this: Mrs. Oswald is on her way home after picking up the kids from baseball practice and wants to grab something quick for dinner. She's waiting at a red light about five miles from the club pondering where they could go, and her phone pings. It's a push notification from the club letting her know that it's Taco Tuesday in the Grille Room tonight with a happy hour special on margaritas! "Perfect!" she thinks, remembering how much the boys love tacos--and how much she could use a margarita!

Without beacon technology, that club would have had to rely on Mrs. Oswald either checking her e-mail exactly at the right time to see the club newsletter and be reminded of Taco Tuesday, or seeing it on social media, or having been exposed to the notice some other way at an earlier time and simply remembering the information. That's a lot to ask of busy members, who between work, family, and social media are often inundated with thousands of pieces of information every day. Beacon technology gives clubs the opportunity to reach members at precisely the right time, to meet their needs in exactly the right way.

5. Farm-to-Table in Food & Beverage

The farm-to-table movement has been a popular one in the dining scene over the last five to ten years and has only been gaining steam. Many clubs, recognizing the increasing importance that members are placing on their diet and nutritional choices, are adapting to this trend by adding their own gardens on site!

There are several advantages to adding a garden as a unique feature to your club. The first is the obvious--giving the Chef access to immediately fresh produce right outside his door. Members will also have the delightful experience of seeing the tomatoes from the club's back garden appear in their Caprese salad that evening.

Implementing any kind of "farm to table" outlet at your club--whether it's a produce or herb garden, bee hives, maple syrup tapping, and more--also allows the opportunity for member involvement by way of educational classes on the subject and cooking lessons from the Chef.

Even for those clubs in urban areas this feature isn't out of reach--you don't need to have a full field or orchard to reap the benefits of embracing the farm-to-table movement. Urban gardens are possible with careful planning and the use of various levels and rotations, hydroponics, and the concept of "build up, not out".

If you also attended Conference, what stood out the most to you? What was your biggest takeaway from the week? Get in touch with us on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments below to let us know your thoughts! We'd love to hear from you.

The RCS Hospitality Group, creators of RCS Food & Beverage Boot Camp™, specialize in operations consulting, strategic planning, food and beverage management, and training programs for private clubs, fine dining restaurants, and high-end hotels and resorts around the world. For more information, phone (623) 322-0773; or visit the RCSHG website at

#technology #hospitality #CMAA #CMAAConference #clubtrends #farmtotable

Whitney Reid Pennell
 Founder & President

Whitney Reid Pennell is the founder and president of the award-winning RCS Hospitality Group (formerly Reid Consulting Services). She is a published author and widely praised seminar leader, with over 20 years of club operations management and consulting experience. 

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