Industry Update
Opinion Article 5 October 2020

Evolving To Normal – How Private Members Clubs Have Adapted

By Matt Peterson, Managing Director at AETHOS Consulting Group

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As we fall into Fall, hospitality companies need to continue to think different. There is no playbook for a pandemic and what we may do one week can get turned upside down the following week due to a colour scheme and algorithm that is supposed to tell us if we are "safe" to operate. Regardless of opinion and political views, one thing is certain - we need to continue to attract more customers and find new ways to activate revenue.

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Over the last seven months, one hospitality segment that has seen a massive up-tick is Private Clubs. Yes, golf rounds may have hit an all-time high this past summer, and in the warmer climates that will continue to be the case through the end of the year and into 2021. The interesting piece of the puzzle is how clubs have adapted and innovated over this period. Most no longer able to serve indoors and host events, many pushed seating to outside locations and now offer curb-side pickup for those not comfortable eating among others but reliant on their club's dinner service. Some clubs have even taking it a step further and offered their members groceries and sundries for pickup. Literally a one-stop-shop.

The point of this is not to look for a mass exodus to the private club space; however, there are some very interesting opportunities for those in hospitality to expand to other segments beyond hotels and resorts. That is another article for another day. The point is that our "new normal" is not going to be constant and the only guarantee is that it will continue to evolve for the foreseeable future until we finally land on what will become "normal". Over these next months it is imperative that all businesses, no matter which hospitality vertical, continue to attract guests and activate new revenue streams.

From in-room dinning that is no longer "room service" but now "takeaway" from the restaurant to outdoor dining bubbles on the Upper West side, guests are still looking for an experience that anticipates and exceeds their expectations. Everyone's expectation may be a little lower throughout the pandemic, but it does not mean that it still cannot be exceeded, and you still can be creating guests for life. Now, more than ever before is the time to not ask 'why' you should try something new, but 'why not'. Who is to say that procurement and services that have always been for the back of house cannot be offered to the guests? We all know large meeting will not come back too quickly, so what better time to partner with schools and colleges to repurpose ballrooms and conference space to socially distanced learning centres. Now is the time to take a page out of the private club sector and offer up services that have never been done before.

Innovation is simply taking an idea of invention and applying it to a new vertical or within new context. In the immortal words of Steve Jobs, we must learn to "think different" and a great place to start is by looking outside of our own hospitality bubble and looking forward to our next normal.

Matt Peterson

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