Members Only: Working in Private Clubs

Members Only: Working in Private Clubs

Members Only: Working in Private Clubs banner

How much do you know about the private club industry segment? You would be surprised how little students, managers, and the public in general really understand about this often hidden industry segment.

I had the opportunity to speak on what it’s really like behind-the-scenes at a private club, and you can listen to the complete podcast below.

Here are the top three questions that I often answer about the industry.

What is a private club?

Scholars define a private club as an organization formed because of a common associational interest among the members, take golf, sailing, tennis, business, military, food and beverage as examples. Private clubs operate under a system of self-governance. Self-governance denotes a structure of decision making by member elected boards and committees that vote on such activities as selection of new members, types of memberships, facilities and services offered.

What is it like to run a private club?

Regardless of the club type, a private club is challenged with providing members from multiple generations a predictable level of quality service and services, all while managing costs effectively. Clubs must react to changes in government regulations, tax laws, operational advancements, and member expectations.

One of the greatest challenges facing the private club industry is finding new and creative ways to enhance member recruitment and retention. To remain competitive, private clubs must identify services and amenities typically those the member consumes away from the club—maybe it’s dry cleaning or tailoring on site—that will add value to their members’ experience.

What is it like to work in a private club?

Although a clubs’ governance is self-established, the execution of the operational plans falls squarely on the general manager, management team, and staff the club chooses to employ.

Private clubs are not for the faint of heart. I recently read an article by a search executive whose job it is to staff such establishments. Her perspective was chilling but realistic: “If you are a GM at a Marriott and the customer is not happy, the customer leaves. If you are a GM at a private club and the customer (member) is not happy, you leave.”

The upside, she said, was that if you like the challenge of always doing it better and being sincerely and visibly engaged in the club operations and the member experience, working at a private club offers a rewarding, exciting, and enjoyable career.

Private clubs are businesses. And in this sense it employs a wide variety of specialized positions depending on the services provided. With the increased use of technology at private clubs, IT positions are now becoming commonplace. Whichever employment role you undertake, the essential job functions remain the same but the workplace environment is far from typical.

I look forward to offering more insight about this often hidden industry segment soon!

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.

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