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Being part of a members club means access to entertainment, information, networking and exclusive benefits. Its success leans heavily on its ability to offer an exceptional experience through a variety of activities and exclusivity. But if you think that the work ends at the delivery of services, you are sorely mistaken. Memberships need to transcend physical barriers so as to be resistant to crises and to preserve the continuity of its services. Clients pay a premium to be a part of the circle after all. It’s only right to get the full benefit of it.
So how do you create a truly valuable membership experience?
To satisfy this inquiry, we surveyed over 200 individuals with current paid memberships with clubs, sporting organisations, trade associations and more. We asked them a series of questions about their satisfaction with their current membership offering and what more they might want to see in it. Our team then analysed these responses to uncover trends, themes, and insights so you may have a snapshot of the membership industry at this time when social gatherings have gained its much-awaited reboot.
Here are 6 key takeaways from our study:
Having a membership portal that is easily accessible online or through an app has become a standard in memberships. This decentralises information such that members can update their own data, upgrade tiers, and manage payments anytime they please.
Tragically, not all club memberships have caught on. The study found that 64% of members whose membership doesn’t offer online tools wish it did, as the feature would have been tremendously valuable.
For businesses, this means that even if your membership is on-site (i.e., a gym, co-working space) and frequented by members, it’s still worth moving your database online and providing log-in access to each member.
It’s not just convenience that’s at play when you do so. Bringing your membership online also gives you an additional channel to freely communicate and engage with members. The study shows that one-third of club members use their membership at least once a week. This presents an opportunity to boost organisation news, upsell premium tiers, and promote events when relevant.
Memberships are a long-term commitment and often come at a hefty price. Thus, it makes sense that most membership businesses break their subscription down into monthly instalments. If you’re not doing this, there’s a good chance you’re discouraging new members to sign-up.
Instalment payments make membership dues appear less intimidating as clients have more time to move their budgets around to make room for dues. As opposed to a one-time payment, instalments lower your membership’s barrier of entry to qualified customers which in most cases improves conversion. It makes sense why many memberships offer it as standard.
The study also found that monthly instalments are more commonly paid via direct debit (71%) than recurring card payments (29%). This tells us that members still want control over their membership payments given how direct debit provides customers a window of time to review transactions. If coupled with direct access to their membership plan through an online portal, you equip customers to review their payment histories frequently and raise tickets in the event that they find irregularities in their invoice. Transparency goes a long way.
Events are versatile and can cover a wide range of topics. When staged to stir up the right amount of engagement, it makes the perfect vehicle for conferences, certification programs, networking, and entertainment; practically half the benefits a membership could offer. No wonder organisations continue to make space for it in their long list of membership perks, as one could infer from the 75% of club members who are provided access to events at a discounted rate.
Events are costly and time-consuming. Opening them up to the public is a logical step to offset revenue spent in event planning time and resources. Drawing a clear distinction between members and non-members is essential to enforce that feeling of exclusivity — offering discounted tickets to members is the way to go.
Although 85% of the club members surveyed reported to be satisfied with their current membership package, qualitative results show that if there’s one thing that could be improved in their membership, it would be the presence of “more” benefits. This meant more club services, activities, and exclusive offers. Otherwise, they wish for more discounts and special deals on products and services from affiliate businesses.
Loyalty programs for long-time members were also mentioned as an added benefit. This tells us that if membership benefits were to be enhanced, it should be in a way that answers the needs of the different segments in the member pool. You ensure better engagement and retention through this approach.
If you haven’t leveraged the unique characteristics of the different segments in your membership client base, now’s a good time to evaluate. Use that information to update your membership benefits, aligning them with your members’ evolving needs.
As with any kind of drastic change, switching membership platforms is seen as highly disruptive by members. While this may discourage clubs from switching platforms altogether, there is a caveat to it.
When asked what they wish to improve in their membership, better user experience emerged as one of the top answers. Complaints included lack of a “quick sign-in”, inability to access their membership online, and poor design that makes navigation feel like a major chore. Qualitative responses coincide with answers to the question “what’s one benefit they wish their membership offered” to which 45% said was an exclusive area for accessing all benefits available to them.
With 91% of members receiving membership benefits, it makes sense to enable better access to these benefits. Without efficient technology in place , club runners may run the risk of disengagement and member churn, which are in the long run worth more than the cost of improving your current membership platform right from the outset.
The study revolves around one pressing sentiment: members want easier access to more membership benefits, implying technological upgrades alongside an investment in more valuable perks. Members are the lifeblood of any membership organisation and their satisfaction determines your success as a community.
In retrospect, there is a logical connection between the two demands. Attractive offers can only go so far if members are unable to have access to them or lack an overview of what the benefits they are paying for. On the flip side, well-designed platforms are empty shells without compelling membership benefits. One might exist without the other but if your aim is to give members more reasons to continue being a part of the club, winning both ends is the smart choice.
The pandemic forced millions of individuals to put plans on hold. Now as we slowly emerge into society, people's hunger for experience, connection, and learning is more insatiable than ever. What better avenue to cater to all these needs than membership clubs? It’s worth remembering that this movement doesn’t come without high expectations. So when the opportunity presents itself, you need to be the place that has it all figured out.
As was drawn from this study, an exceptional membership experience consists of ease, accessibility, control over one’s own data, and benefits that scratches the right spot. Evaluate if your membership checks all the boxes. And if you decide to fill the gaps before they dig a hole in your business, start from the two most important areas: technology and a more targeted benefits package.
If you would like to demo an extensive membership platform that allows you to do both, please provide your details here and we’ll be in touch for a full walkthrough of the Eventcube Membership platform.
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