“Favorite Place to Dine” & “Third Place to Hang” Drive Member Retention

Polo Club of Boca Raton

Members’ Favorite Place to Dine

Do your club members think their club should be a “favorite” and “third place” where they, their family and fellow members prefer to dine, socialize and frequently “hang out” during their free time, even when they are not engaged in a sport or recreational activity? Industry statistics say that 91% of club members say YES, their club should be a favorite place to dine, and 89% of club managers concur. However, while 79% of club managers think their club is a favorite place to dine, only 42% of members concur.

Why the disparity in perceptions?

Are club managers not focused on the same goals and experience outcomes as their members? Through all the meetings, discussions and planning throughout the year at board and committee levels, how is it that managers and members end up with different perceptions of outcomes when it is time to evaluate how the club is performing as a dining destination and how happy members are with their daily club experiences?

To be a favorite place to dine means your club should be on the list of where your members like to frequent when they dine out; not necessarily their most favorite place to dine, but one they continuously enjoy when dining away from home. Achieving “Favorite Place Dining Status” is critical to establishing your club as a “third place” in your members’ lives, as almost all social gatherings at your club involve food, beverages and hospitality from the club staff.

A “third place” is where your members are drawn to hang out when they are not at their first place (home) or their second place (work).

It is where members are drawn to during their free and leisure time – their third place. It is where they feel most comfortable and content, fit in, are equal, and can contribute to the enjoyment and camaraderie of their social group. Is your club both a “favorite” and “third place”? Do your members congregate and socialize at your club even when they are not engaged in a sport or recreation activity? If the answer is no, then your club is missing out on what best drives member retention.

The success of achieving both “favorite” and “third place” is driven through a club having an articulated strategic mission and vision for their club.

They are statements of who your club serves, what it provides at what quality and value, how your club is unique, and what your club aspires to be in the future. Why do members join and stay members of your club? Successful clubs know these answers. The quality and consistency of your club’s food and beverage, hospitality, and social camaraderie are at the core of why your club becomes a “favorite” and “third place”, which is at the core of driving member retention.

Share This Article

About Bill McMahon, Sr. AIA, OAA

Bill is a strategic, financial and architectural planning consultant to clubs throughout North America. He established McMahon Group in 1983 as an affiliate of the family architectural firm his grandfather founded in 1906. Over the ensuing years, the firm has expanded its club consulting services beyond clubhouse improvement planning to a full range of services for all aspects of private club challenges. To date, the firm has assisted more than 2,000 private clubs across the United States, Canada, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. McMahon Group provides a unique approach to developing club facility projects first establishing design and financial feasibility so membership approval is achieved. Thereafter final design and construction firms are selected to build the member approved project.

Mr. McMahon is unique among club consultants in providing an integrated strategic, financial and architectural approach to solving club problems. His personal involvement with his own clubs in St. Louis (serving in the roles of president, board member and committee member) has allowed him to bring unparalleled experience to each client. Mr. McMahon’s club memberships have included Bellerive Country Club (St. Louis), Racquet Club Ladue (St. Louis), University Club of St. Louis, Spring Lake Yacht Club (Michigan) and the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.

Mr. McMahon is a graduate of Washington University School of Architecture in St. Louis and holds architecture licenses in 44 U.S. states and in Ontario, Canada. He is a featured author in industry publications and a featured speaker at the annual conferences of the Club Managers Association of America, the Canadian Society of Club Managers, the National Club Association and the Hospitality, Financial and Technology Professionals. He serves as a visiting lecturer at continuing education sessions offered by regional CMAA chapters and at Michigan State University. Bill is a co-author of McMahon Club Trends®, the comprehensive research reports on strategic issues facing private clubs published with the National Club Association. He is also founder of the Excellence in Club Management Award.

Mr. McMahon is a member of the American Institute of Architects, and the National Club Association. He is a former president of the Missouri Council of Architects, AIA and has served on various charitable boards in the St. Louis area.

More articles by Bill McMahon, Sr. AIA, OAA
Originally published in: