COVID and change

The most comprehensive impact from COVID has been rapid change. Change in being physically close to strangers, change in our expectations on government, change in where we want to live, change in how we work, and change in how we want to socialise. This last point is closely connected to a change in our feelings of belonging to a local community.

Clubs are an essential part of local communities and unless we embrace the aspects of change with which we can deal, we will be seen as part of the problem rather than the solution. Let’s take a look at those aspects we might be able to address:

  1. More flexible working arrangements for our staff, including hours and job sharing. Although presenting rostering and possibly industrial relations challenges, I believe this is doable. The current issue of too few job candidates may not be one over which we have much control but we can design and promote club roles as desirable and a good career choice.
  2. Improving facilities layouts to allow for social distancing. Whilst this might mean less efficient use of floor space based on return per square metre, the overall benefits from improved service and member growth should outweigh the costs. Combine this with well-publicised cleaning protocols and assurance of vaccination/check-in compliance, and you bring a high level of confidence to your club visitors that their choice of recreational venue, your club, is the right one.
  3. The relationship clubs have with government is complex. Whether its local, state, or Federal, there are attributes such as regulatory compliance, social responsibility, community service, and health, where clubs can assist with the correct messaging and active implementation of government priorities. This is not to say that we should be pushing the government’s agenda, but rather assisting in ensuring that we and our members abide by the law. The various COVID protocols that required quarantine, social distancing, vaccinations, and check-ins are a perfect example of this. Working in a cooperative and consultative way, both with government and with members, clubs have been facilitators of best practice in this area.

I want to now address the greatest universal change of where and how we want to live. We have all seen the great shift to the regions and away from major employment centres and/or major transport routes. This “great shift” is happening in your club’s feeder areas. The demographics are showing changing lifestyles, culture, family structures, and recreation needs. This will impact your club no matter how successful you were before COVID.

The ability to address this cultural shift will be dependent on using whatever data is available, and current, to better understand not only your members changed preferences, but also the profile of likely visitors. That ability will require a good deal of thinking about new ways of servicing, new types of services, and new ways of communicating with your client audiences. Whether that audience now becomes prioritised for Gen X, Y, Z or Babyboomers will depend on who and from where your visitors will mostly come and for what? Do you know this yet and if not, how are you going to find out?

There is a window of opportunity for clubs to tap into the desire for people to “branch out and breathe” as we come out of the worst of COVID; make sure you’re prepared. One more final message. Your core members and the services they have always expected, need to be maintained albeit a touch re-worked. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater!

If you would like to know how Mapcite can help your club change contact Steve Walker, Head of Sales via 0418 438 294 or steve.walker@mapcite.com