Communication is a Team Sport
Most every club has an executive team, comprised of the GM, Membership/Marketing, F&B, Catering/Private Events, Member Relations/Retention, the Executive Chef, the Sports Pros (golf, tennis, sailing), and Maintenance. All of these departments are essential to a successful team and performance. And each team member has a unique voice which can serve the club well in communicating with members and prospective members and the community online.
Social networks are simply communication tools that should be integrated into marketing and communication strategies. It is essential that your Club include social media into your communication plan and decide what role department managers and staff will have. Establishing guidelines for the team to use as a resource is smart planning.
How do I know? I previously served as the Member Relations Director for the City Club Los Angeles. I pioneered programs for ClubCorp, which are still in place today. Namely, the Weekly Wire, which began as my Monday morning e-mail to Members to remind them about the week’s events and share personal anecdotes, like movie reviews. It was well received by members and I loved the social aspect of the communication. It served to boost attendance and retention. Members craved the communication.
I also served as Sales & Marketing Director for Apple Tree Hospitality, a boutique hotel group operating in Vietnam. When I arrived at my post, it was December of 2008. Right when the global economy crashed. My 1.5 year pipeline of reservations shrank to 3 months (essentially whatever could not be cancelled). I had to re-work our communication strategy, which included re-developing our websites and establishing a presence on social media. My Vietnamese and Lao marketing managers at each property were trained how to get online and connect with potential travelers, how to promote the hotel in the style of telling stories.
In Private Clubs, the responsibility for member communication falls on the team. This is not an individual activity. The Chef sharing food pictures and recipes is just as significant as the Catering Director thanking Mr. & Mrs. Smith for hosting their wedding at the Club or the Golf Pro sharing tips for the perfect swing. The members appreciate the team as a whole, as well as the individuals who fuel the dynamics. And that’s why the authentic voice needs to shine through. If the receptionist has been assigned as the lead on posting everything to social networks, then every post will sound like it comes from the receptionist. Private Clubs are in such a unique and wonderful position to share the ongoing story of the club and the value of membership. Each department has a special story to tell which enriches the Club’s brand message.
From top to bottom, all staff members should understand your brand identity and message, and take part in helping to achieve department, communication and revenue goals.
Everyone, despite their position or level of experience, can learn to communicate well and to serve as better brand ambassadors. Loyalty starts within your club. It’s time to train your staff, your managers, and leaders to be good communicators and to keep your members engaged.