The Rise of Women-Only Private Clubs
We are eager to bring you Part 2 of Intern, Ben Granish’s 3-part webinar series "The Rise of Women-Only Private Clubs,” next Wednesday July 17th at 2pm EST. For a sneak peek into what clubs can learn about inclusiveness and diversity, read on, and click below to register for the webinar.
“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”
– Katharine Hepburn
In 1868, journalist, Jane Cunningham Croly, was denied admittance to an event at the New York Press Club. That night, as Croly saw the smoke clear from the male-only club lounge to reveal the glass ceiling above her, she saw an opportunity to create her own professional club geared towards the promotion of women. Less than a month later, Croly and other female journalists founded Sorosis and its formation inspired more women to found similar professional institutions.
As the matriarch of the women’s club initiative, Croly inspired confidence in others and promoted "womanly self-respect and self-knowledge." Croly used her platform to form the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1890. The Federation provided support to efforts aimed at improving women’s access to education, health care, fair working conditions, and women’s suffrage. Similar prominent clubs followed suit and addressed societal needs of the time including access to childcare and help with wartime efforts. While women-only clubs began a slow climb upwards, they never outpaced the growth of their male counterparts.
Over the past decade; and one hundred-fifty years after the first wave of women’s-only clubs, there has been a major revitalization of women’s only clubs and initiatives. Clubs such as The Wing, AllBright , The Riveter, and Hera Hub have led the way by tailoring their amenities and marketing strategies to attract women of all backgrounds by creating communities for professionals. The female-focused business model seen in these clubs can provide great insight to country, city, and professional clubs looking to be more inclusive as they revisit or update their strategic plan to attract the next generation of members.
The Perfect Fit - Tailored Amenities of Women-Only Clubs
Membership is influenced and driven by the sense of camaraderie and empowerment that can only be found amongst like-minded and motivated peers. A day at the office takes on an entirely different perspective at a club like Hera Hub. Hera Hub provides members the opportunity to collaborate, educate, and grow both professionally and personally in a spa-inspired coworking space. The club has curated a welcoming environment to professionals by using calming colors in its decor, striking art, aromatic candles, soothing and uplifting music, and healthy snacks to keep members’ energy high.
In response to the ‘gig economy’ and employees able to telecommute from anywhere, many new women’s clubs are providing all the necessary resources to develop new-age, creative businesses. Podcast recording studios, content screening rooms, remote working connections, and exciting spaces attract young professionals and support the growth of communities among the membership and celebrate the fellowship of female-led businesses. In line with the growing trend of doing business with companies who share a person’s values, Hera Hub has made it their mission to support 20,000 women in the launch and growth of their business by 2020.
Marketing that Connects with Women – Marketing Mix
It’s no secret that marketing is all about the 4 P’s: promotion, price, place, and product. These clubs have their marketing programs dialed in. Let’s take a closer look:
Saying social media efforts do little to increase memberships and brand awareness for these clubs would be a HUGE understatement. Social media is the lifeline that pulls members in. Clubs are not just providing a space to be creative; they are practicing creativity through their own podcasts, magazine publications, pop-up shops, fashion shows, and events.
At The Trouble Club, based in SoHo, London, UK, a local social media campaign quickly resulted in 300 memberships a mere 10 days after opening shop. We recently discussed the importance of personal brand, and how your brand extends past simply your website. It’s important to find a “sweet spot” with your potential members that catches their attention and draws them in so they immediately feel as though they have been club regulars for years, even if they are simply testing the waters.
The standard for annual dues for “all-access” membership privileges at clubs like The Wing, The AllBright, and Hera Hub range from $2,000 to $4,000, annually. While this may initially seem cost-prohibitive, many members consider this a business expense, and it is significantly less cost-prohibitive (and comes with significantly more benefits) than renting an office space. Many coworking spaces offer flexible packages for membership, utilizing scholarships and under-30 rates, which do not exclude potential members and industry changemakers.
This trend is one we have seen in the club industry as many clubs rethink initiation fees, offering trial memberships, and offering a reduced monthly rate to young professionals under 40. As clubs look to drive potential Millennial members into their facilities by offering reduced fees and dues, they are banking on the fact that once they are in the door, they will find a way to justify the cost.
The co-working trend is here to stay as large corporations cut costs pushing employees to home offices, which opens the door for employees to work wherever they please and there is a clear desire for professional women to have a place they can learn, grow and make meaningful connections. Convenience plays a big role in the popularity of coworking spaces, and the same can be said for the club industry—potential members are seeking a place that they can connect with others, but they don’t have to travel significantly out of their way to do so.
Women-only private clubs capture a niche market of women looking for shared professional and social spaces where members can meet and interact with like-minded and similarly-situated individuals. These clubs provide women with inspiration, fellowship and a safe space to call their own. The unique amenities, experiences, “exclusivity,” and opportunities are at the forefront of attracting members.
Creating a Community
High-tech coworking space, promoting women-led businesses, exciting experiences, fresh dishes to gather around, and listening to inspiring women speak, builds a club member’s sense of community. Women-only clubs have a clear market worth building around and developing to new heights. These clubs instill confidence in their members, provide the resources necessary to create deep connections both socially and professionally, and inspire their members with content—all of which are traditional club concepts; with a modern twist!
We look forward to continuing the conversation of women-only private clubs and the key takeaways for traditional clubs in our upcoming webinar held Wednesday July 17th at 2pm EST. Click below to register to join us!
Ben Granish joins the RCS team for the summer as the first intern in RCS history. He is a senior at University of South Carolina where he is pursuing his degree in Hospitality Management. Ben brings to us a background in both hospitality and sports operations/management and will be spending the summer gaining knowledge in different styles of management and training and learning to identify individual clubs' operational strengths and weaknesses and how to take a strategic approach to addressing both concerns and opportunities. Ben became interested in the hospitality consulting industry while working at Kiawah Island Club and he aspires to be a changemaker in the club industry as the industry grows to meet the changing needs of members, employees and customers.