Will millennials pay for club membership?
“Millennials” – those born from the early 1980s onwards and reaching adulthood early in the 21st century – might be the most talked about group in the golf industry today; and for good reason.
As this generation, the largest since the Baby Boomers, comes into its prime working and spending years, the golf industry needs to successfully engage this important cohort.
But do millennials even want club membership? And if so, are they willing to pay for it?
‘The Truth About Millennial Golfers’ (2018), a study by Global Golf Advisors and Nextgengolf that surveyed more than 1,200 millennial golfers in the United States, shines a light on the demands of tomorrow’s prospective club members.
Encouragingly, three-quarters said they would consider joining a private club in the future, with nearly half (48%) saying they intended to join within the next three to 10 years.
But while millennials are certainly interested in club membership, how they would like to pay for and access that membership has changed significantly from previous generations.
The Fee Factor
Cost is a significant consideration for millennials.
For a generation that is widely struggling to get a mortgage, it is unsurprising that club entrance fees can present a specific challenge.
Henry DeLozier, Partner at Global Golf Advisors explains, “Millennials understand that membership has a price and most are willing to pay, but they may need a progressive payment plan in order to manage the joining fee.”
The average entrance fee millennials in the US are willing to pay is $5,886, the research found.
However 43% of those surveyed said they would actually prefer to pay more annually, instead of an entrance fee.
Alternatively, a flexible membership with a low social fee allowing full access to the club and pay-per-use golf access is also appealing.
“They are very discerning shoppers,” Henry continues, “They are not reluctant to pay, but they are reluctant to pay for things that offer them no value.
“When clubs understand millennials and how to communicate the value of the club, there is opportunity.”
But what millennials value is not necessarily what most golf clubs offer today.
Henry goes on to explain that the desire for a wider range of activities and amenities beyond golf has become a “universal truth”.
Millennials want additional amenities and opportunities to socialize, the research found, with fitness (71%), access for the entire family (65%), a pool (62%) and social events (57%) being the most important factors.
However the needs of millennials run deeper than just lifestyle.
“People that are joining now expect their clubs to be ‘more and better’ than perhaps clubs were in the past,” DeLozier continues. “The customer is expecting a more diverse club with different personalities, perspectives and backgrounds. There is a desire to see their club as a safe haven for their friends and loved ones.”
This research points to a positive future of engaging with millennial golfers over the next decade, but only if golf venues are willing to adapt and create a golf product that presents real value for this generation, which may include:
- An inclusive and family-friendly environment
- Plenty of opportunities for socialization
- A range of amenities that extend beyond golf (primarily fitness, dining, wellness)
- A more flexible approach to membership and fees
Henry DeLozier is a Partner at specialized consulting and market intelligence firm, Global Golf Advisors, based in North America.