05 May

Life After COVID-19

It’s a Changing World—But we Endure and Adapt

As 2020 began, many reflected on the last decade and all that has occurred since 2010, and began to look toward all of the hopeful possibilities that would come with a new decade. We nodded to our history, teasing that it was a new, updated era of the Roaring ‘20s—If we only knew how roaring 2020 would be!

We’ve (Sort of) Been Here Before

Over the last several weeks, the world has changed. Our lives have taken many unexpected turns and each of us continue to be impacted in ways large and small with regard to health, wellness, finances, family, daily routines, and so much more. And while no two people are affected by this pandemic in the same way, we are all experiencing it together.

It’s truly a different animal—a once-in-a-hundred-year event. Yet somehow, it feels familiar. Ten years ago, our industry was forcibly and drastically changed by the 2008-2009 Recession. As an industry, we recognized that change was not simply rising from a desire to be better, but out of necessity to survive a changing world and remain relevant in members’ lives. Sadly, some clubs were forced to close their doors; but those who pivoted with the times managed to not only survive, but thrive.

In many cases, the industry’s focus shifted from largely male-dominated, business-related purposes to a new model that catered to the complexities of a multi-generational membership with family-friendly programs and services that strike a balance. Amenity offerings in private clubs and communities suddenly needed to satisfy vastly different interests in a clubhouse or campus that hosted up to four generations of members and residents actively using it at any given time.

We’re All Working Together

Now again, there is great fear and uncertainty as the world grapples with understanding the intricacies of the invisible and deadly coronavirus (COVID-19). This time, it is not only a financial crisis, but a health crisis as well. But if there can be any silver lining to the current situation to speak of, it is that we are actually more prepared to respond to the effects of this crisis now than ever before.

We can take comfort in knowing that some of the world’s most brilliant doctors and medical professionals are coming together—globally—to pool resources and fight this virus. In the past, it has taken the medical community months, or even years, to identify new viruses or diseases and understand the causes; in the case of COVID-19, it took mere weeks to identify the virus. And in a few short months, we’ve not only developed tests to understand it, but have also made significant progress in the race to develop a vaccine and defeat it.

And just as the world is better equipped, so is our industry as a whole. In Chambers’ 121-year history, we have endured significant, global events that have had tremendous impacts on our industry. Through the Great Depression, World Wars, Spanish Flu, September 11th and the Great Recession, we have remained steadfast in our leadership to do what is necessary to prevail, and we will continue to do so as we navigate the coronavirus pandemic. We adapted in 2010, we’ve learned from the last decade, and we will adapt again now.

We’re Ready for Change (Again)

Over the last several years, we’ve seen the private club industry move toward greater spontaneity and flexibility. We’ve witnessed city clubs take the lead as they have adapted rising trends to change with the times while still celebrating their historic roots. Business centers, communal workspaces, market/café areas, fast-casual and grab-n-go dining offerings, wellness facilities—all of these amenities are aimed at improving a member or resident’s overall lifestyle. And suddenly, this is no longer a suggestion as we as a global population have been forced into remote lifestyles, seemingly overnight.

Going forward, we’ll see even more changes in the design and layout of spaces. A beautifully designed space should not only be aesthetically pleasing to the eye—the true beauty of a space also lies in its ability to serve the purpose and functionality of those enjoying it. And while it’s important to continue designing with diversity in mind, we’ll now be designing for our health as well—and not just in our fitness and wellness centers.

(Internally, we’ve been working on our own prototype for the new “normal” with regard to socially distant dining areas, gathering spaces, and community centers—stay tuned for more!)

This isn’t to say that this situation isn’t serious—because it most certainly is. Emotionally, physically and financially, this will continue to have a lasting effect on individuals, clubs and communities around the globe. It’s just to say that we will navigate this challenge together, armed with more information to drive decision-making than we’ve ever had in the past.

In fact, Club Benchmarking’s recent white paper, A Framework for Strategic Response to COVID-19, provides a detailed overview of the short-term and long-term financial impacts of the novel coronavirus based on the data they have been gathering for our industry since the Great Recession. Today, we can benefit by reflecting on the response to historic events, learning from what worked and what didn’t, and using that information to propel the industry forward.

Lean In—And On One Another

In just the last six weeks, we have had an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, streamline our processes, and strengthen our communications in ways that will continue to benefit us in the months and years ahead. The world is changing—but it is always changing and it will always continue to do so. That is, in fact, the only constant in life (so said the wise Greek philosopher Heraclitus).

We are part of a resilient and supportive industry—and together, we will emerge on the other side of this pandemic with greater strength and adaptability because of the community and support we share.


For more resources, visit the National Club Association’s Coronavirus Resource Center and CMAA’s Be Prepared website, including their Reopening Resources to help you navigate operations post COVID-19.

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