Targets – 50 plus, snowbirds, second homeowners
Excludes – Younger players, those people not in the top 20% of income.
Examples – Black Diamond Ranch, any high-end club in Naples, Boca, Miami
Taglines – “Where to live if you live for golf!” reeled me into a twelve-year membership at Black Diamond!
Tactics: Dog and pony shows at northern clubs. A website, targeted Facebook advertising, landing pages.
Commentary: Most lifestyle clubs are selling homes as well as memberships which greatly complicates things! People may like the course but not the community or they may like the community but not the available homes. However, there are plenty of places like Citrus Hills and The Villages in Florida or Coto de Caza in California that have made a killing in this market!
Black Diamond, where I lived for 12 years, was an amazing golf course, in fact, two great golf courses, the Quarry, in my opinion, is the best in Florida, a state with 2,000 courses. Yet the club floundered in the years I was there (they were much too smart to listen to me) dropping the membership from almost 600 to around 200.
This is a classic case of not getting the right mix of value and price. Black Diamond started at $15,000 as a joining fee but became too high priced in an area that only attracted retirees. As their members died off, the new members could not or would not afford the now $70,000 initiation fee. A large part of the problem was the relatively low house prices $200,0000 – $450,000 average compared to the membership fee and the $16,000 a year in dues. Had the house prices been higher it would have been easier to sell a $70,000 membership. The rural location lacking in amenities did not help and yet others thrived in the very same market!
Citrus Hills, Terra Vista course just three miles away was amazingly successful despite being later to the game and having a vastly inferior course. Their houses command far higher prices than Black Diamond’s and their membership is thriving. Citrus Hills built a massive sports center, fitness, pool, and tennis, which was obviously a loss leader. Kept their initiation fees and dues low and raised the price of their home to premium levels. They simply got a better mix of benefits and activities along with far more aggressive marketing.
Opportunity: There is a huge opportunity in this market but the competition is predictably stiff. For every development that makes a killing three or four others fail. Getting this right is a complicated mix of pricing, value, proximity to social and medical amenities, easy access from airports and of course marketing.
Far too many clubs, resorts, and developments rely on fluff marketing, branding, glossy brochures and fancy videos. Consumers are wiser and your story and benefits have to be more compelling than in the past. An expensive logo, fancy type styles, and glamour shots are not enough!
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