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The Millennial March Towards the Future of Private Clubs

While this year’s hot topic at the 2017 CMAA World Conference was focused on the “member experience”, last year there was a lot of talk about Millennials—and their importance to the world of private clubs has not diminished.

In the January/February issue of Golf Inc., Mike Stetz's piece “Millennials do like clubs” echoed many of the same trends and preferences that we have seen with this generation.

“Millennials, numbering nearly 80 million in the United States, are the most diverse generation in U.S. history,” the report said. “They are already the fastest growing generation of consumer of large purchases, the largest generation in the workforce, and poised to outspend baby boomers in 2017.”

Source: Adecco

One of the biggest takeaways that we’ve heard even more vociferously in recent months is the Millennial resistance to initiation fees.

Due to the Great Recession, many Millennials are financially struggling comparatively more than did their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts. Add in the tremendous inflation in the cost of higher education, and you have a generation that is generally strapped for cash.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that Millennials can’t afford or aren’t interested in private club membership; it just means that clubs need to adapt their finance practices to meet these preferences. Depending on the financial health of your club and your community that may mean doing away with initiation fees altogether, reducing them substantially, or splitting them up into several smaller payments.

For example, one of ClubCorp’s strategies is to offer a low cost membership for those under 40. To adapt to the fact that Millennials also demand more non-golf facilities at a club due to their declining interest in the sport, ClubCorp also offers a non-golf membership that grants access to dining and fitness facilities and social amenities.

Golf Inc. agrees: “For instance, one of the more striking findings is that cost is not necessarily a prohibitive factor when it comes to joining. Thirty-seven percent said price is not a deal breaker. However, they don’t want to fork over all their money at once. ‘The study found that a whopping 85 percent of millennials would be more likely to join a club if the initiation fee could be made in installments, in two or three payments, instead of one lump sum,” the report said.”

And that under-40 membership that ClubCorp implemented? It’s the fastest growing membership of all of ClubCorp’s offerings according to Duane Brown, GM at The Clubs of Prestonwood in Dallas (a ClubCorp club).

Has your club made adjustments to adapt to the Millennial generation? If so, what? Tell us in the comments, or Tweet us @ConsultingRCS to continue the conversation.

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

#millennial #clubtrends #clubmanagement #GolfInc #Millennial

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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