An increasingly common question asked in Boardrooms of today is, “Can my adult children enjoy the privileges of our private club membership?”

The private club industry would be wise to reconsider their stance on what is the most standard policies regarding access.

The Pew Research Center has concluded that for the first time in more than 130 years, “Americans 18-34 are more likely to live with their parents than any other living situation”.  Among college educated millennials, nearly 20% are living at home, a statistic that has been on an upward trend since 2000.

Everyone wants to talk about the proclivities of the Millennial generation.  One inclination is that “life with Mom and Dad” has become their most common choice of “domicile.”  Should that life also include the trappings which Mom and Dad enjoy outside of the home?

Since 2010 the Affordable Care Act has required insurers to allow dependents to remain on their parents’ health care plan until they reach age 26.  Clearly, this is one of the most popular and applauded elements of the ACA (actually something approved and encouraged from both sides of the aisle!).

This “benefit/provision” of the Affordable Care Act has assisted many young people in this new world. Now how does that concept coordinate with the private club industry, and why should we care?

There is no question that access to the club for family dependents has become a rather interesting subject.  Most private club bylaws do not speak to this new phenomenon in a manner that would welcome or allow the children living at home to have access to the membership of their parents.

Commonly, club bylaws allow access for dependent children under that age of 21, regardless of where they reside. Additionally, there is usually a provision for children living in the home, who are full time students or active duty military, to have access through the age of 23.

The private club industry should take a page from the Affordable Care Act and reconsider how the adult children of private club members are treated for club access.

Intuitively, it makes sense to realize that if private clubs welcomed the children of private club members (up to the age of 26 regardless of whether they were still in school or in the military), who lived at home with the parents, that a number of very positive things could occur:

These adult children would utilize the club and increase the monthly club expeditures of that family unit through food and beverage programs, cart fees and other paid club services. And children using private club amenities further into their adult lives will be more conditioned to the club lifestyle.

According to the recent CMAA report, “Uncovering Generational Attitudes About Club Memberships”, 41 percent of Millennials already believe that a private club membership can help their professional and personal lives.

This conditioning will make them more likely to aspire to becoming a member of a private club in the future and will give clubs an additional pipeline of leads for the future.

We should embrace the children of private club members still living at home and show them that private clubs are welcoming.

The “lifestyle” relationship of being a private club member is something that they should want to maintain throughout their successful adult careers. Perhaps it is time for all private clubs to consider modifying their bylaws to reflect the “new world” in which we all live.

Featured in the March/April 2017 The BoardRoom Magazine