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Private clubs have filled a valuable role of bringing together like-minded people who enjoy doing some of the same things together, and while there are those who believe private clubs will no longer be needed in the future, we at BoardRoom magazine strongly disagree. In fact, we believe that the need for private clubs is greater now than at any time in history.

Nonetheless, we recognize that there are legitimate concerns about where private clubs will find their future members – for there does appear to be a general lack of interest in private club membership among the younger generation who have grown up online and on Facebook.®

Our perspective, however, is that such apathy is a simple consequence of not having yet grasped how tremendous the experience is of being a member of a fine private club. In fact, we believe that it is the very “member experience” aspect of being part of a private club that is, itself, what most attracts and retains members.

A Return to Member Experience

Originally, private clubs were formed when a group of people got together based on a mutual need or common interest. They enjoyed each other’s company and enjoyed doing things together. To house their gatherings, they eventually built clubhouses or found club quarters where they could meet, talk, share, dine and participate in various sporting events. In other words, members came first, and facilities second.

More recently, however, there seems to have been a paradigm shift in our industry, with clubs now placing more emphasis and more effort on facilities and product, than on the club members themselves.

Instead, we believe clubs should return their focus to developing and improving their Member Experience. This includes personalized service from a staff who knows the individual needs and likes of its members, and a strong emphasis on the intangibles including the club’s culture, history, traditions, image, governance, and that special feeling that members sense when they come to their club…the feeling that makes them feel part of a family and proud to be a member.

Indeed, it is our view that those clubs that have continued to focus on Member Experience are the ones that have captured the essence of a fine private club, and in so doing, present the true attraction needed to cultivate and retain members.

Boardroom magazine formed the Distinguished Clubs award program based on our concerns for the future of the private club industry. We want to recognize those clubs that have distinguished themselves by providing a great Member Experience; an experience based on personalized service and a feeling of pride as a result of intangibles.