8 Club Trends To Pay Attention To in 2021

If 2020 felt more like surviving than thriving for your club, well… you’re in good company. The pandemic has greatly affected organizations like clubs that primarily offer in-person activities and on-site interaction.

And unfortunately, the reality is that COVID-19 will still impact your club in 2021. Next year will be the year of the pivot. It’s the year that we learn from the mind-spinning adaptations we were forced to make, and start growing again. 

In this post, I’m sharing eight trends in the club industry. These trends range from new pricing models, rise in e-commerce, remote working best practices, and what to do to help your club members feel safe, valued, and in the loop. 


1. Clubs Are Making the Shift To Virtual 

When COVID-19 hit, organizations across the globe were in a panic that their doors would close forever — however, those who developed virtual experiences continued to thrive. 

If you haven’t explored ways to serve your members through online and safe outdoor experiences, that should be your focus in 2021. Even as brick and mortar locations reopen, the growing market for virtual activities is here to stay.

Plus, this might even be good news for your club. Our recent Virtual Event Research Report revealed that virtual events are much less expensive to run than in-person events — in fact, eighty-four percent of organizations who had already run virtual events reported that they spent less on virtual events than in-person ones. 

Offering online classes and workshops is a good start, but consider ways to engage your members and create a community online. Our report found that organizations that didn’t try to engage attendees were 150% more likely to be unsuccessful. 

Here are a few ways to engage your members while going virtual:

  • Livestream your classes instead of pre-recording.

  • Create a Facebook group for members to interact online.

  • Invest in an app so members can take advantage of virtual club activities at their pace and on their time. This will also help combat Zoom fatigue.   

  • Have fun and think outside the box. Consider virtual happy hours, virtual paint parties, or sponsoring a virtual game night, like a trivia night or Escape Room Remote.    

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties have clubs for children of all ages designed to empower youth to excel in school and lead healthy, productive lives. While they traditionally rely on on-site programming, they shifted to an innovative and fun Virtual Club model for its members.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties

Every day, staff create and curate new content for families across the country. Members take part in staff-led educational video tutorials, fun projects, meaningful challenges, and live classes via Facebook and Zoom. 


2. Clubs Are Investing in Technology 

Growing membership is hard, full stop — in fact, our Membership Growth Report found that a whopping 68% of organizations have difficulty growing membership. Not only that, but we found that the longer the organization exists, the more likely their membership levels are to shrink.

We believe that this is in part due to a reluctance to adapt to new technology. Many clubs are still operating solely in-person, and as we discussed in the last point, that’s a model that’s no longer going to be successful in 2021. Clubs must invest in technology to recruit and retain members — you’ll need to be able to reach out via email and your website, as well as potentially invest in an app. 

Technology such as membership management software can also help quickly reveal crucial information on sales, engagement, retention, and more. And in turn, they’re able to focus on what they were created for: cultivating the best member experience possible.


3. Pricing Models Will Change

Subscription pricing continues to be on the rise, and as a result, people expect tiered pricing options that suit their budget and needs. 

In 2021, your club should consider creating different membership tiers that have levels of value and price points in order to attract a greater variety of members who have a greater range of budgets and desires.

If you’re not familiar with the subscription price model, we recently hosted a webinar with Robbie Kellman Baxter, the world’s leading expert in subscription pricing and membership models, on just that topic. Watch the webinar here, or read our blog post on How to Develop a Successful Subscription Business Model for Your Organization.

Read more: The Complete Guide to Setting Up a Robust Membership Model


4. Clubs Turn To E-commerce 

If you sell any products to your members in person or at your meetings, it’s time to sell those products online — or even if you don’t, why not start? The demand for online shopping is going to continue to increase in 2021 (and so is the demand for comfy loungewear… just saying). 

Setting up e-commerce on your site or with a mobile app will increase revenue and allow your members to purchase your merchandise safely. 

Check out this online store set up by the Mission Hills Garden Club on their Wild Apricot website. They’re making extra revenue by selling branded t-shirts and face masks (very timely!) and even offering special pricing for members. 

Mission Hills Garden Club

Did this pique your interest in selling products? Here are Five Digital Products to Help Grow Your Organization’s Revenue in 2021.


5. Clubs Will Provide Special Offers

Is your club losing senior citizens and other high-risk group members because of the pandemic? If so, 2021 is the time to evaluate how you can best accommodate them.

Those at high-risk need your membership and community just as much as others, and maybe more. 

Consider special risk-free offers, activities, and opportunities, especially for this group. Remember when grocery stores started senior shopping hours? How can your club adapt likewise?


6. Members will Expect Strong Cleaning and Sanitizing Practices

Our sincere hope is that clubs will be able to confidently open doors and meet in person in 2021. 

However, as your members start to come to centers and in-person activities post periods of shutdown, they will have very high expectations for cleaning and sanitation practices.

For example, a survey conducted by Mindbody revealed that 92% of consumers surveyed said that following rigorous sanitization guidelines would be important in deciding to visit a fitness club when it reopens. 

Here are a few ways to show your members that your club has upped its cleaning and sanitization game:

  • Have a thorough cleaning and sanitizing strategy in place wherever you’re meeting.

  • Train your staff well on cleaning and sanitizing rules and protocols.

  • Don’t wait to clean. Members will appreciate seeing cleaning and sanitization in action.

  • Members will not see all of the sanitizations measures your club is taking. Send out communications (email, social media, and post on-site) detailing your cleaning and sanitizing practices. Consider creating a short video on cleaning that goes on behind the scenes.

Take it from Active Wellness, a company that operates health clubs and programs in numerous states. They created a suite of reopening signage that is used throughout their centers. Take a look at their reopening signage package here. 

Active Wellness

7. Clubs Will Find Meaningful Ways to Engage with Remote Employees

Club employees will likely continue to work remotely in 2021, and some may continue to work remotely permanently.

The shift from in the office to remote working was possibly one of the most difficult COVID-19-induced challenges in 2020. Fortunately, over the past eight-plus months, many software options and tactics to keep remote staff engaged became available. 

If your staff is still working remotely, here are ways to ensure engaged and successful virtual teams:

  • All operation systems should be easily accessible off-site.  

  • Staff should be equipped to do their work on remote devices.

  • Invest in quality virtual communication software. 

  • Managers must be flexible! Staff may be balancing remote schooling and taking care of high-risk loved ones. These are things out of their control, and a manager’s understanding will go a long way.  

Be sure to keep your volunteers engaged as well by providing meaningful ways for them to stay involved from home. Here are a few possible remote opportunities for your volunteers:

Read more: 15 Ways to Volunteer from Home and Give Back During Coronavirus.


8. Communications Will Be Key

If there is one thing we learned during the pandemic, it’s that stellar communication during a crisis is vital. While life during a pandemic may start to feel normal, you must continue to communicate frequently with your members.

Continue to keep members updated on the COVID-19 measures you’re taking, changes in hours and policies, and virtual activities and offerings. Above all, keep your communications positive. Whether in person or virtual, staying positive will make your club a safe space for your members. 

Consider having a page on your site dedicated to COVID-19 updates that you can refer members to often. The Cowboys Golf Club in Grapevine, Texas has a COVID-19 Update Center with all the latest information its members need to know. 

Cowboys Golf Club

Which of these trends have you already implemented for your club? Are there any that you will be taking on in 2021?

Let us know in the comments!

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