As a private community, one of the most important goals of your offering is to create a place where members and residents can congregate, socialize, and experience opportunities they would not be able to do anywhere else.
A strong sense of community increases member satisfaction, positively affecting retention rates and new member recruitment. If we all know the critical value that a sense of community brings to your property, why do we not have a more comprehensive effort to build it? Not only in the form of better programming and events, but in the robust marketing of these events? Let's look at three critical factors needed to create well-attended, private club events at your property.
Developing active member participation starts with a great product. In other words, how valuable is your event? Is it something that people would want to attend? Can they attend this event elsewhere, or is this an exclusive event in your community? Does this event foster a sense of belonging, or is this an individual event that does not encourage member interaction? Does this event support your overall brand strategy, or is this something that does not fit with your core values? Your entire team should ask these questions before you embark on your annual events schedule for the year. It’s essential to carefully develop unforgettable events and consider how you will measure success at them. Some of those success measures will be financially focused, and others will be based on participation. Take the time to define success and communicate the specific definitions to your team to understand what is expected. Then, analyze the events afterward to ensure you deliver nothing but the best to your membership model.
How do you go about spreading the word about your events? Is it word of mouth? Placement in your monthly printed newsletter? Distributing the occasional correspondence to your email list? Do you plan out your communication plan annually? Or is it a reactive approach that's put off until the last minute? Maybe you incorporate a mixture of both? The communities that are the most successful with member retention take the time to build a great product (as outlined above). Then they aggressively and beautifully promote the schedule to their members through various mediums: print, digital, film, social media, etc. The communication schedule to members should be as robust and well-defined as your outgoing marketing to new members or residents. Utilize all the available tools: email marketing, member portal, smartphone app, films, curating exclusive content, writing newsletters, etc. There is no one-channel solution – your strategy has to be all-encompassing, taking into account reach and frequency like you would be outside your community.
Also, private clubs are notorious for not putting as much effort into their internal communications as they do their external communications. Don't be one of these clubs and apply a solid membership marketing strategy. Your brand value starts internally with your existing members.
Set amongst beautiful French-imported vineyards in Mexico is The Vines, a highly anticipated new luxury boutique hotel and residential community. Smarthinking Inc. created a quarterly magazine called "Deep Rooted" to tout the lifestyle offerings and a web portal to get involved with various activities.
As a private community, you work hard to build and cultivate a membership willing to pay for service, excellence, and exceptional experiences. It is the basis for what you do, so don't reverse order when it comes to programming. Build and promote events that people want to be a part of, and then charge them accordingly. Your members expect it. They want the best and to be a part of the best, so give them what they want and don't be afraid to build high-ticket events. If you are creating experiences that they can only get with you, they will happily pay for the experience and the ability to be a part of it. This point of view does not mean that every event needs to be expensive, but too often, communities take the opposite approach and try to bring the prices down as low as possible to encourage participation. If you build it and promote it correctly from the start, members will be willing to pay for it. Create the demand and then charge what is required to deliver that experience.
Many aspects of building a genuinely remarkable events schedule at a private club. There are too many to list here within this article, but it starts with the proper planning and evaluation of what it will take to succeed. I would encourage you to put in the effort needed to create a dynamic schedule for your community with the necessary factors required to differentiate your community, allowing you to recruit better and build a more profitable club for all involved.