Club Trends: A New Outlook for 2020

Taking the Pulse of the Club Industry: COVID-19 Impact and Outlook By Bill McMahon, Jr. and Jake Fisher I n April 2020, McMahon Group conducted a pulse survey to assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the club industry and the larger outlook for the industry in the post-COVID-19 world. While many questions aimed at measuring the industry’s response to the challenges brought on by the pandemic, the main purpose of the survey was forward-looking and pragmatic: to gain clarity on where the industry is headed and what measures taken during the pandemic portend for the future. Have you gained or lost members since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic? Somewhat surprisingly, when asked what impact the coronavirus pandemic had on membership, 24% of clubs reported having gained new members; 37% reported having lost members; and 39% reported no change. There were striking differences in response to this question by club type, with almost 1 in 3 golf/country clubs (31%) reporting having lost members compared to 70% of city/athletic clubs. Expectations for membership growth or decline post-COVID-19 were mixed, with 32% of golf/country clubs forecasting growth, 25% no change, and 37% decline. In contrast, a majority (62%) of city/athletic clubs predicted a decline in membership while 26% predicted growth and 12% predicted no change. 23% of respondents located in a gated/residential community Club leaders generally take a dim or uncertain view of the prospects for a successful summer, with only 20% replying that this summer’s outlook is positive (2% “Very Positive” and 18% “Positive”). Pessimism is greatest in the hard-hit Northeast region (Conn., Maine, N.H., N.J., N.Y., RI., Vt.) with an aggregate positive response of 5%. In contrast to summer 2020’s outlook, the outlook for 2021 and beyond looks far more promising (79% positive). Again, there were some regional differences in outlook, with the northeast region sounding a slightly less optimistic note (69% positive) and the southwest (AZ, NM, OK, TX) region the most optimistic one (94% positive). OPERATIONS DURING THE PANDEMIC RESPONDENT DEMOGRAPHICS MEMBERSHIP OUTLOOK OVERALL OUTLOOK 73% golf/country club 11% City/athletic club 8% Yacht club 7% Other 448 Respondents Bringing the club to members – Virtual methods for member engagement Live stream events Remote fitness classes Golf lessons Cooking classes Speaker series Virtual Board and Committee Meetings Board Committee 50 59 53 65 82 20 8 19 18 9 21 17 22 12 6 9 16 6 5 Heavy/frequent use Moderate/occasional use Light/infrequent use Not at all 10 22 8 19 34 29 48 30 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Regions that provide the most to-go dining No 25% Yes 75% Are you currently providing to-go dining options to your members? 39% 40% 23% 37% 31% 70% 24% 29% 7% Golf/Country Club By club type There is a significant difference in response by club type Gained Lost No change City/Athletic Club Southeast 91% Southwest 93% Summer 2020 | 7