If you are a music buff you are certainly familiar with the hit song “Something To Talk About,” by Bonnie Raitt. Ms. Raitt wasn’t thinking about the private club industry when she wrote that song, but the title defines what every club should be thinking about when it comes to their membership and consumers of today.

It is time for private clubs to begin to think and act outside the box. Below you will find some prime examples of private clubs saying, “What box?”

The talented and imaginative management team at Oakmont Country Club in Glendale, California observed the increasing popularity of bocce and wondered how they could bring this game to their members, even for just one night. They decided to transform their entire 9th fairway into an impressive number of bocce courts. The club served fresh pizzas straight out of a courtside pizza oven and featured live music, cocktails and rose’. This event attracted more than 300 members who participated in the bocce tournament and produced over $16,000 in revenue. Although the money is nice, what is most inspiring about this effort by the team at Oakmont Country Club is the experience which they created for the membership to talk about with their friends.

Another ‘outside the box’ idea that is fun and entertaining is the annual Talent Show at The Windsor Club in Waban, MA. Each year, all new members must participate in the show some way, either on-stage or behind the scenes. The strategy of introducing the new members, albeit by talented or not-talented acts, at the annual meeting sets the stage of engagement right from the start. We’re sure that members have great memories of comedic and embarrassing performances from past years which are then talked about year after year!

One more example is from Manhattan Country Club in Manhattan, KS, which happens to be the private club for the Creative Golf Marketing team. A couple of years ago, they introduced ‘Friday Afternoon Cocktails.’ There is a fun cocktail party from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. each Friday; offering discounted hors d’oeuvres and cocktails during the event. At 6:00 p.m. sharp, the club has two drawings. The first drawing is for a free bottle of wine from only the names of those currently in attendance. The second drawing is for a $500 credit to their club account and includes the names of all members of the club. If that member is in attendance they win the pot! If that member is not in attendance, the amount increases by $50 each Friday until a member wins. As you would imagine, as the amount grows each week, the size of attendance grows similarly.

This concept is not the ‘newest’ idea in the private club industry, but it is effective, fun and a tried and true strategy to encourage members to come out to the club for a few hours after work.

Different is great and unique is better. And, providing unique and different events for the membership of a private club is what all private clubs should be striving to provide their membership. We all love to share enjoyable and unique experiences with our friends. Unfortunately, many private clubs continue to provide the same events year after year.

“Status quo” is not going to draw new members to your club or retain your current members. It is going to take innovative and unique strategies to get your members proudly telling others about their exciting club. Give your members ‘something to talk about’ and you will be rewarded with renewed interest in what your club has to offer, with the end result of retaining current members and improved new member recruitment efforts.