Posts Tagged ‘activities’

What Have You Done for Me Lately?

Thursday, July 26th, 2018

How often have we in private clubs heard that from our members?  No one but a few creatures of inviolable habit likes the “same ol’, same ol’,” yet that’s what many clubs serve up month after month, year in and year out.  Why not try a different approach that will “wow” your members?  Make “wow factors” a part of your club’s traditions.

What is a “wow factor”?  It’s anything, usually unexpected, that causes your members to say or think, “Wow, that’s really neat!” or “Wow, I didn’t expect that!” or “Wow, that’s impressive!”

Wow factors are characterized by their unexpectedness and as such any particular wow factor cannot become part of your club routine.  They are executed for one-time or short-term effect.  They are also characterized by being unusual – either cutting edge or just out-of-the-ordinary.  They can be extravagant and expensive, but these should be few and far between.  Most wow factors should be small scale, inexpensive, and momentary, that is, of short duration as in one day, one evening, or one event.

The key to making wow factors is to challenge your club’s department heads to come up with a specified number of wow factor ideas for their areas of the operation – say 10 new ideas for the coming busy season.  Each idea should be briefly described on paper – what it is, how it will be done, what items need to be purchased, any talent that needs to be contracted, any associated labor cost, and an overall estimated cost.  Then all department heads should meet with the General Manager in a brainstorming session to discuss, settle on, and schedule the roll out of each wow factor.

Here are a handful of ideas to give you a sense of the program:

  • Complimentary mini-trio sampler of desserts or appetizers for all diners on a given night – this is also an excellent way to preview or market a new menu.
  • Free soft-serve ice cream or smoothies for the kids (of all ages) at the pool on a hot summer day.  An alternative would be to arrange for the local ice cream truck to pull up in front of your pool with music playing.  Everyone gets their specialty ice cream treat and you pay the bill.
  • Flowers for all the ladies dining on some non-special night just for the surprise effect.  Google search “special days” for calendars of unusual celebrations and holidays.
  • Have the General Manager act as the club “doorman” on a random evening to greet each member and guest as they arrive.
  • A giveaway of a sleeve of golf balls to each golfer on a busy Saturday morning.  Handed out by the Head Golf Professional on the first tee for maximum effect.
  • Free mini-pizzas in the lounge on an unexpected evening.
  • A themed ice carving for a ladies luncheon.
  • Complimentary and unusual hors d’oeuvres for the weekly card game in the men’s lounge.
  • Face painting or a clown or a balloon artist at your next children’s event.
  • Complimentary wine for no special reason.  A great way to clear out dead stock or showcase new wines.

Again, the key to the wow factor is its unusual nature and unexpectedness.  Several tips:

  • Execute your wow factors where they will have the most effect – food and beverage areas, golf areas, locker rooms, special events, activities, aquatics, tennis.
  • Plan, budget, and schedule.  Formalize your program enough so that the wow factors are spread out and spread around.  Always have a budget.  Say you budget $1,000 per month for club-wide wow factors.  The cost to the club is $12,000 per year – not an inconsequential amount, but think of the benefit to member pleasure and even employee morale.
  • Wow factor ideas are everywhere.  Borrow from other establishments or something you saw on vacation.  The Internet is a treasure trove of ideas.  Google search words or phrases such as “Fun,” “Fun Ideas,” “Fun Activities,” “Fun Recreational Activities,” and “Inexpensive Activity Ideas” and you’ll get a sense for how many resources are out there.
  • To keep your costs down, get together with vendors for freebies.  Many would be thrilled to get some exposure to your members for their products and services.  Just make sure you prominently give them credit for their donations.
  • Once you’ve used a particular wow factor, save the concept for some future time.  Avoiding routine doesn’t mean never doing it again, just doing it again when unexpected.  Over time, you’ll develop an extensive list of wow factors that can be deployed for maximum effect at some future moment.
  • Keep your wow factor strategy, plans, and schedule under tight wrap.  Don’t ruin the surprise with “loose lips.”
  • Let your members do the talking about the wow factor, not you or your staff.  Act like nothing special is going on, while the members “buzz” about the unusual and unexpected.  Certainly, you may acknowledge a wow factor when asked about it, but act like it’s no deal, just some little thing that happened “spontaneously.”

There are hundreds of websites offering unusual and fun ideas.  Get your department heads and staff excited by searching out the most unusual activities, events, or ideas.  Your members will still ask, “What have you done for me lately?” but they’ll be delighted by the unexpected moments and your staff will be energized by the fun of “giving” these special gifts to your membership.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking managers throughout the country and around the world.

Guest Blog: Activities – Where Do You Find Them?

Monday, October 1st, 2012

The entire food and beverage industry including event planners and activity professionals are always looking for new and innovative events, musicians and programs to set themselves apart from their competition.  The big question is… where can you find them and will you be able to afford it?

Calling a nearby talent agency seems to be the easiest and most logical way to secure entertainment.  But, we all know that this usually comes with a sizable price tag and many times it’s not worth the extra money.  Below, I’ve outlined the many places and spaces you can find inexpensive, quality programming and entertainment in your own backyard.  I’ve used real examples from Huntersville, Charlotte, and North Carolina.  Chances are that these very same examples (with different names, titles, etc.) exist in any other area of the country.

To find ideas I gobble up all the local papers, magazines and newsletters I can find to hunt down local talent and event ideas.  Yes, even the cheesy local paper with the entertaining “crime beat” section and magazines most households would toss before even cracking them open.  I am amazed at what my own community offers in programming and entertainment.  I found that the majority of the events and programming is coordinated by local parks and recreation departments, community centers and libraries.

Below are the many publications in my own area from which I have cut out or photocopied event ideas, band names, informational articles, etc…

  • Huntersville Herald – local small-town newspaper (entertainment section)
  • Lake Norman Magazine (community calendar)
  • Charlotte Parent (local talent ads & feature articles)
  • Today’s Charlotte Woman (local talent ads & feature articles)
  • AAA’s Go Magazine (free if you are a member)
  • Huntersville Park & Recreation Newsletter
  • Ice House (Local Arts Center) Newsletter
  • Carolina Country (“junk mail” – free in the mail)
  • Blue Ridge Outdoors (free at newsstands)
  • Carolina Sports Link (free at newsstands)
  • Our State (magazine subscription)
  • Blue Ridge (magazine subscription)

So far, I’ve uncovered a wide variety of information.  Below are just a few things…

  • Alternative local summer camps (arts, science, living history, Civil War) which can be utilized as a Saturday afternoon program (found in the entertainment section)
  • 10+ local bluegrass, country, rockabilly, old time and jazz bands (found in community calendar)
  • Gold Panning with local historian (library newsletter)
  • Free Line Dancing Lessons (found in community calendar)
  • Names of local writing, gardening and flower arranging experts (found in entertainment section)
  • Mock crime investigation scene program for teens (library newsletter)
  • $6 North Carolina Quiz Book for poolside trivia (Our State magazine)
  • Arts and craft program for making thank-you or holiday gifts for teachers (Charlotte Parent)

I’m sure you are thinking, I don’t have time to find all these papers and newsletters AND read them! May I suggest…

  • Subscribe to local or state magazines
  • Get on local arts, science, museum or community center mailing lists
  • Pick up free entertainment guides or specialty publications at area grocery stores, your child’s school, health club, spa (the places you normally go to)
  • Don’t throw away junk mail if it pertains to what’s happening in your area

Grab your reading pile when you need a break from the computer or it’s a rainy day and things are slow at the club.  I guarantee that you will spend less than 30 minutes browsing through the above information if you know what you are looking for.  When you find it, cut it out or photocopy it and start your idea binder.  You may not use the band or idea for months, but at least you’ve got it in your back pocket.

Utilizing local talent will eliminate the middle man, be cost effective and many times give your event the uniqueness you are looking for.

Cindy Williams, Corporate Director of Activities and Events, East West Partners Club Management

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Guest Blog: The Future of Club Programming

Monday, June 6th, 2011

There is a tremendous population shift underway in our country with the various age and cultural demographic changes that will modify the way we do business in our private clubs well into the future. Studies have shown that our 65 year old age group will double from 40 million to 89 million and from 13 percent of the population to 20 percent by the year 2050. While this seems like a long way off, the impact that this means to our economic outlook, and how we do business in our clubs will be impacting and must be dealt with today.

A recent study from Stanford University on the longevity of Americans living longer in our society states that Americans will continue to “Age Up” for decades into the future. With medicine and wellness practices, Americans are living much longer. With this change, there will be a transformation of organizational psychology and club programming concepts that will have a major impact not only with government policies and programs like Social Security benefits and Medicare but us as club managers and CEOs of our organizations with how we conduct business.

The realization of what this means to the business of private clubs is significant. Our entire market is changing clubs across the country. As we experience continued growth of our “Waiting to Resign Lists” with members wanting to get out of the club, for various reasons, we must begin to pay attention to how we deal with this problem. As we all know, our clubs operate with dues as our primary source of income. Without this revenue stream, we will not be able to operate. Last year alone, over 400 clubs closed their doors for various reasons. This is an alarming rate of closures in which we need to be concerned about.

The aging demographics of our membership coupled with the current global financial crisis, along with our member’s investment portfolios shrinking by 25 percent or more is causing a major transformation of the wealth distribution in our clubs. The way we are conducting business today will be outdated in the very near future. Our senior members are living longer and are spending more time at our clubs, but they are spending less money.

Several clubs have discounted their dues for seniors in an attempt to keep this age group active at their clubs and off the waiting to resign list. The reasoning is that this membership group has already paid their dues so to speak, but as younger members soon realize that the senior group is using the club more than they are, there begins to be resentment among the membership creating different factions. The younger members are feeling like they are paying the way for the senior member.

We need to ask ourselves if discounting the dues for senior members is the business practice or not or are there other measures we can take to better deal with this concern. What programs do you have in place to meet the needs and demands of this aging group? Are these programs sufficient and do they add value to the lives of our senior members, giving them a reason to continue being members of your club? A term “Productive Aging” is becoming the buzz word amongst our aging members 50 years and older.

Many clubs are being proactive and are already planning for the next few decades and how to better serve their aging membership, while still recruiting younger members, which are the future of our clubs. There is no doubt that we have age and cultural differences in our clubs. Our senior members do not desire to dine or be near the younger members and their young children, so we must develop seating areas or dedicate specific dining rooms in our clubs to accommodate this need.

What other programs are we developing to better serve our aging membership? Below are several programming ideas for you to consider implementing in your clubs for this age group.

  • Investment groups made up of members
  • Book clubs – many clubs are creating their own personal libraries that are situated in unused areas of their clubs, which has become popular with members
  • Wine clubs
  • Travel clubs
  • Hiking or outdoor recreation and fitness programs
  • Cooking classes – heart healthy cuisine
  • Organic gardening – several clubs are providing areas on club grounds for those members to have their own personal garden that they maintain
  • Self-defense training – how to avoid an attack in the mall parking lot (hopefully not your club parking lot)
  • Writing and poetry groups
  • Member focus groups – to share cultural and local lore
  • Hobbies and craft groups
  • Health, nutrition and wellness classes
  • Classes on how to retrofit your home to prepare for aging
  • Outdoor stargazing events
  • Fly fishing classes
  • Cycling groups
  • Card groups (besides bridge)
  • Storytelling and oral history presentations – lecture series
  • Mental exercise groups – crossword puzzle competitions
  • Philanthropy groups – big brother and big sister groups
  • Community outreach groups
  • Volunteer groups – to clean up neighborhoods a side streets and waterways around your club
  • Club historical preservation societies to gather your club’s history / archives
  • Technology – computer classes
  • Mystery theme dinners
  • Comedy night
  • Movie nights for families
  • Pet grooming classes
  • Pet obedience training (along with member’s and their kids as well)
  • Care giver programs
  • Club concierge services
  • Car wash – on site to wash, wax and detail members cars
  • Relationship building programs – (matching single members together)
  • Etiquette and formal dining classes
  • Retrofit your club with handicap accessibility
  • Sport shooting – clays events
  • Kayak and canoe clubs
  • Bus trips to local museums, art exhibits and sporting activities
  • Coffee shops – Wi-Fi Internet access in your clubs
  • Music lessons – how many members would like to learn how to play the piano but feel they are too old to learn but are capable?
  • Discovery nature center in your club
  • Nature walks on club property – with signs marking plants and trees along with a nature walk book to identify foliage
  • Natural healing and wellness classes
  • Business center to include access to a club computer, fax machine, photo copy machine and so forth
  • Genealogy research classes
  • Recipe book – your club members personal recipes
  • Club history book
  • Club member personal history book – let your members tell their stories
  • Shopping trips
  • Photography clubs

Adding these types of programs for your entire membership to enjoy will support their need to remain as members ensuring the future of your club.

Don Vance, CCM, Master Club Advisors, Club Leadership Digest

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Guest Blog: Add More than a Towel Service and Lounge Chairs to Your Pool Deck!

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

 We are operating in different times.  How many times have you heard that lately?  Our members want more for less and expect exceptional service at all times (ok, so their mindset probably has not changed with the downturn economy).  What have you added to your program to add value?   Summer is here!  It’s a great time to add a few low cost programs to keep your members happy and the pool deck is the perfect place to get started!

 Pool Games

Calling all kids!  Grab a couple staff members to conduct weekly poolside games to include a penny dive, relay races (wet t-shirt, ride a noodle, etc.), ping pong ball Scrabble, etc.  Most of the needed supplies are probably lying around the club or can be borrowed.  Prizes can be as inexpensive as a 5 cent freeze pop!  The kids will love it!  Log onto all summer long for pool game ideas!

Sno-cones or Sundaes on Sunday

What fun to come to the pool for a FREE (or inexpensive) cool treat!  Once or twice per month, schedule a staff member to man a sno-cone machine or build your own sundae bar.  You can rent a sno-cone machine for as little as $35 or buy your own!  Providing ice cream and toppings is a bit more expensive, but worth the member satisfaction.

Water Fitness

For $25-$40 per hour, you can provide a water fitness class for your membership.  Exercising outdoors is great alternative to going to the gym and you can work on your tan!  Contact your local YMCA or fitness club for a list of water fitness instructors you can contact to employ over the summer or ask your membership for names of instructors they have met in the past – you know they love to share their ideas!Â

Kids Splash and Parents Dash

Give parents a 2-hour window to run errands or spend time at home alone by providing a 2-hour pool program for the kids!  Engage them with games, contests, outdoor crafts, etc.  Parents will gladly pay for this service.  I suggest offering a second child discount.  What a great way to make some revenue and help out a mom who needs a few hours to herself!

Dive In Movie

Outdoor movies are making a come back, why not offer one at your pool!  Wal-Mart is selling inflatable movie screens for less than $200.  You will also need a DVD projector and speakers for sound.  Many times, clubs have projectors available for conferences and meetings and most pools these days have speakers on the deck.  Check out your facility and see if this might be an easy addition for you!Â

Poolside Pampering

How about hosting a manicures and mimosa morning at the pool for the ladies?  Hire a mobile spa service to conduct mini pedicures and manicures on the pool deck.  The cost is passed on to members and the club can decide whether the mimosas are charged or complimentary.Â

The possibilities are endless!  Adding a little pizzaz to your pool deck will keep your members interested and coming back for more.  It’s one more reason why they will continue to talk up your club and possibly recruit a few of their friends!Â

Cindy Williams, Corporate Director of Activities, East West Partners Club Management

Cindy is a nationally-recognized expert in family lifestyle programming in private clubs. In addition to her blog, WeManageFun, she speaks at conferences and seminars and provides consulting services to the club industry.


This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – where membership and all resources are FREE!

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