The National Club Association is hosting its 9th annual National Club Conference in New York City on April 29-30, 2012. Please join me, along with other club managers, industry leaders, officers and directors, for this conference that promises to be an exceptional learning and networking experience.
For more information, the following link highlights the National Club Conference’s diverse, cutting-edge educational sessions and interactive panels covering major industry issues, essential updates on legislation, management and governance topics affecting the future of private clubs, and the most vital information on membership marketing. This year the National Club Conference offers innovative programming designed to inspire club leaders, address the latest trends, tackle clubs’ toughest challenges, and provide tips to implement immediately.
Please share this information with your board members and encourage them to attend as well. The conference offers an opportunity to learn about key topics and issues in the private club industry while providing insight for all businesses affected by government legislation, current trends and the state of the economy.
The event will be held at two of New York City’s finest city clubs with a welcome dinner to kick off the 2012 National Club Conference on Sunday, April 29. The evening will begin with a cocktail hour and multi-course dinner at the New York Athletic Club, overlooking Central Park. Following dinner, a dessert reception will be held at the University Club of New York, the host of the 2012 National Club Conference.
Over the next few weeks, I will be commenting on information contained in the 2012 edition of Clubs in Town and Country as well as some items that arose at conference. At the legal and financial roundtable I facilitated with Robyn Stowell, a number of issues came up; two of which I would like to comment on today. The first issue is the whole concept of privacy. It was discussed a number of times, from employment law to ADA, to unrelated business income. As I have stated many times in the past, tax exemption and privacy are two different issues. You can be taxable and private and tax exempt and a public accomadation. I would refer you to an excellent article by Brad Steele in the Winter 2012 edition of Club Director from the National Club Association on protecting your private status. As stated in the article, “Privacy Remains Your Most Valuable Asset”. Unfortunately, many clubs would not meet the definition of ”private” if they were ever challenged.
The second is a financial issue. Clubs are still finding it difficult to keep members, get new members and to get the existing members to spend more at the club. While 2012 is expected to be a better year than the last two, the range of financial performance among clubs seems to be much greater. From 2008-2010, most clubs suffered. They all seemed to be hit by the recession. However, 2011 paints a different picture. While all clubs made it a point to control expenses, the successful (A) clubs seemed to have bounced back sooner. Existing members are using the club more and the loss of members seems to be under control. While not having a waiting list, many of these clubs can successfully replace the members they lose over the course of the year. However, the wide majority of clubs in the middle are still having problems. Simply put, their are too many “B” level clubs for the demand. As a result, clubs are their own worst enemies. They are competing against one another and no one is winning. It is difficult to replace the members that are leaving and if they do, the amount of initiation fees they charge is declining.
I would be interested in hearing from club managers on how they see 2012 working out. Did you budget for improvement or do you see another year of struggle?