The hospitality industry is expansive, and careers in the field are nearly endless. Hotels, restaurants, events, casinos, cruise ships and more are attractive—yet common—career paths.
What if there was an exciting option looking for career-focused candidates under the radar?
Well, there is. Private clubs (think country clubs, yacht clubs, city clubs, tennis clubs, military clubs, and faculty clubs, just to name a few) offer distinct benefits and perks unique to hospitality employers. Read on for six reasons of why you may want to explore career opportunities in private clubs.
1. You can develop long-term relationships.
The private club work environment allows time to develop relationships with members and fellow employees. Members are not guests or customers. The club is a central and important part of a member’s weekly and potentially daily activities. You will learn members’ names, meet their family, and learn specific preferences and habits, allowing you to offer them superior service. On the staff side, the club environment affords you the time and resources to properly source and train staff resulting in higher retention rates of talented employees.
2. Career growth is actively encouraged.
The private club segment has a long history of valuing education. This is particularly the case in support of collegiate CMAA (Club Managers Association of America) student chapters. Mentoring, real mentoring, is evident the moment you meet a club manager. Additionally, the CMAA offers specialized and comprehensive certification programs as well as ongoing club specific educational opportunities for all levels of employment. The wealth of knowledge and willingness to share solutions throughout the national and regional networks creates a sense unity; because the clubs are not in competition with each other as is the case for commercial operations.
3. You can contribute in meaningful ways … and get recognized for it.
A place to shine and nowhere to hide. Unlike similar hospitality related employment environments, private clubs are managed by small groups of specialized managers directly related to the services and amenities the club provides. This allows for fewer levels of management. Assistant managers and employees are more frequently recognized for their achievements by members and the general manager. The environment also provides daily direct communications with decision makers allowing for great ideas in support of the clubs’ mission to easily and frequently emerge.
4. Enjoy a healthier work-life balance compared to other hospitality careers.
As compared to other industry segments, private clubs offer a better opportunity to balance your priorities. Although the job functions may be similar to related fields of employment, the volume of business and hours of operations in clubs are not. Given the service expectations of members, you may expect to work at a higher level of intensity but for shorter periods of time. Depending on the club type, an employment year may only be nine or ten months or the days of operation could be limited to Monday thru Friday.
5. Your earning power is greater.
Typically, private clubs offer higher starting salaries, participation in bonus programs, wider levels of benefits at a lower cost, and meaningful employee development programs. It is also not unusual for the club to pay for additional expenses such as clothing allowances, professional organizational dues, and conference fees for its’ managers.
6. Service and civility are the rules, not the exception.
Working in the private club industry is only for those who value service and civility. Successful employment at any level in private club starts with the understanding that a culture of service to its members exists and is the most important role one undertakes. Every member of a private club is your “boss.” You must be able to professionally interact with all members equally in a manner they expect. The declining presence of civility (formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech) in hospitality-related employment environments has become an ongoing concern. Incidents of unacceptable behavior by employees and customers alike are being reported more frequently in the daily news and viewable in social media outlets. There is zero tolerance for these types of occurrences in private clubs; civility, in my opinion, should be considered an attractor for employment for this industry segment. Organizations which embrace high levels of civility as part of their culture are more likely to attract and retain talented employees, becoming an employer of choice than those who don’t.
If you would like to explore a career in the private club industry the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA) is a great starting point. I would also encourage you to reach out to your regional and/or student CMAA chapter and attend a local meeting.
Johnson & Wales University offers several online undergraduate and graduate hospitality management degrees. For more information, complete the "Request Info" form on this page or call 855-JWU-1881.