2020, one of the slowest starts to the golf industry. Starting with what can only be described as one of the wettest starts to the year and then the global pandemic which saw a nationwide lockdown and closure of golf. Then, restrictions lifted, golf became one of the first outdoor activities to re-open and golfing bodies, clubs and media are revelling in the success. With many clubs citing a considerable spike in memberships interest, membership purchases and green fee purchases. In some cases, clubs recorded 300% increase in green fee revenue for the month of May when comparing to their full green fee revenue for 2019.
However, should we now start looking beyond 2020 and begin planning for 2021? How will you ensure that your club maintains those gains? With winter fast approaching and the worry of one of the deepest recessions the UK has faced looming, clubs need to begin preparing for the whole new challenge the new year will bring.
Anticipating how a golfer will react is key and what the economic impact will mean for them. Research shows that 43% of private club members expect their disposable income to decline over the next 12 months, while 58% believe their overall consumer spending will also decline. (GGA Partners Research, 2020). Another study shows that members aren’t the only ones to notice economic change, with 8% of clubs in the UK and Ireland that classify their current cash position as ‘Critical’, and a further 29% classifying theirs as ‘Concerning’.
Getting ahead of the this with boards preparing contingencies is crucial to the sustainability of clubs in the near term. The golf industry will need to work together to ensure that the medium-term plans of clubs are achieved. This might sound like a challenge, but there is a solution when it comes to membership sales and retention.
Welcome the flexible golf membership.
Now is the perfect time to reflect on what change has been seen in your club as a consequence of Covid-19. Have you seen a shift in demographic, or playing times? Perhaps you have had an influx in frequent green fee members or even beginners take up the sport. The question is, how can clubs leverage the positives from this change?
We believe that the Flexible membership will become the category of choice. Offering a solution to those golfers who are time or money conscious. Presenting them with an alternative membership route into a club at a lower price point than your full membership category, whilst still generating considerable revenue for your club.
Retention rather than cannibalisation is going to be important for next year. Flexible membership will be the industry’s insurance policy for 2021. When it comes to renewal, a concern may be that full members, even though they want to continue to support their local club, may not be in a financial position to do so. What a flexible membership category allows is for that traditional member to “downgrade” to a flexible member, but still support their club financially.
Not only will it capture members struggling financially to continue supporting their club – it will also attract the infrequent golfer and weather-proof revenue streams. With the opportunity for those infrequent golfers to convert to flexible members, this will help supplement the shortfall from full members having to downgrade or leave due to pressure upon their discretionary expenditure.
If you would like more information on our flexible golf membership category and how it will help aid your golf club financially for 2021, contact us today, or click here to download our free club guide.