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Creating the Unexpected

Jackie Carpenter 3/15/18

I always love the CMAA (Club Management Association of America) World Conference. It’s a great time to see old friends, meet new ones and get a read on the industry as a whole. The conference wrapped up a couple of weeks ago and I was enthused to see managers from across the world excited and energized about what they do.

In several of the educational sessions I attended, speakers addressed the need for club managers to create experiences for their members. This applied to everything from members paying their bill to picking up a To Go order, to enjoying Easter Brunch. “Members expect the unexpected,” one speaker said. “It isn’t enough to just meet their expectations and provide great service.”

This got me thinking and honestly, the thought of working as a clubhouse manager again gave me a little anxiety! To think that members don’t just want to have their needs met, or even exceeded, they want the unexpected! Yikes! Adding more to the very long list of things to achieve every day in a club is overwhelming to me.

After some thought I realized achieving “the unexpected” really comes down to 3 things:


  1. Culture

  2. Fun

Intention: How are you intentionallycreating positive, memorable experiences for your members every day? Are you focused on blowing their minds or are you working to not get complaints? There is a difference. What is your intention?

Culture: What is your employee culture? If you create the kind of culture where employees understand the importance of delivering the unexpected and are trained to look for ways to constantly go above and beyond, you have a much better chance of creating exceptional experiences for members. Members in turn will want to be at the club more to enjoy the unexpected and see what’s coming next.

Fun: If your club is truly focused on FUN (and doesn’t just say that it is), you are likely already creating positives memories and experiences regularly. If members (and staff for that matter!) are having fun, the positive aspects of the experience are already there, you just have to sprinkle in some special “extras” that drive the unexpected outcome all the way home.

Don’t let the thought of the “unexpected” overwhelm you, let it challenge you! Get excited about thinking through the details of the member experience. Walk an event from a member’s perspectivefrom parking lot through the event and back to the parking lot. Where could you add an element of surprise? How can you intentionally create opportunities for your members to feel like kids again because they are having so much fun? It doesn’t have to be hard, cost a lot of money or be overwhelming. Just remember these three pieces: Intention, Culture and Fun!