Welcoming a Multi-Generational Membership

Multiple generations have occupied our planet for ages—and we can’t fathom that ever changing. In fact, the very idea of multiple generations living and working together is probably one of the only things we, as a human species, can count on not changing. However, the wants, needs, and specific characteristics of various generations always will. Here, we plan to dissect the characteristics of today’s largest generations (baby boomers, Generation X, millennials), explore how private clubs can cater to these different age groups, and identify common threads within each.

The fact is, there’s no getting around a multi-generational membership. And it can be tough to create a club that accommodates all with a variety of personalities gathering under one roof. As the saying goes, in many aspects of life, it takes a village. And despite what many articles and pop culture today may tell us, research indicates that it is very possible to keep that village of yours thriving.

Welcoming The Differences

If you were to google various generations, you’d find a plethora of articles relishing in the mass differences between each one—and sure, there are many. For starters, Gen Xers are usually less adventurous than millennials because priorities often shift when children come into play. In contrast, there’s a good chance that your millennial member is single while the Gen Xers have already started a family and subsequently, made your boomer members, grandparents. Research indicates that millennials are marrying and having children later in life, and navigating the interests of these different life stages can appear challenging.

However, instead of viewing these differences as intricately negative, see them for what they actually are: opportunities. This diversity can help form a more vibrant atmosphere with expanded activities catering to a variety of people—regardless of the generational category they fall into. Fundamentally, most of us are children at heart, right? Embrace it. Pop-up events can be great for both youth and adults. A mixture of outdoor games for different ages combined with a local band, beer tastings, and delicious food is the kind of event that even the most diverse membership can enjoy.

Still, many clubs fear that millennials won’t want to join due to a lack of appeal—so prove them wrong by getting inventive. Anything from a family-friendly wine tasting event to an adult moon bounce night (yes, you read that correctly) will attract both the young and the young at heart. In fact, according to Pew, many millennials perceive their parents as their closest friends, their confidants, their role models. While stereotypes tell us these generations won’t get along, experience argues otherwise. Millennials respect their elders, are incredibly open-minded, and enjoy learning from those before them. And with their tech-savvy skills, millennials have much to teach older generations as well. Diversity within your Board and committees will likely breed success for all aspects of your club. They’ll thrive because of the different expertise and ideas fostered within.

Supporting The Similarities

As previously noted, while the general media tends to perpetuate the differences between generations, research indicates the opposite. Certainly, differences are to be expected when comparing the ideas and beliefs of a 25-year-old millennial to a seasoned boomer embracing life as a retiree. We can only assume that there are many different life experiences between the two. But, underneath those layers occupied by individual life choices, economic status, political beliefs, and personal memories, lay a few similarities. For starters, they both value quality time with loved ones.

Generations across the board enjoy quality time with those they care about. It’s just simply how they want to spend that time that may change from generation to generation. Fortunately, private clubs have the square footage to accommodate a variety of activities that align with different interests. Your younger members may enjoy Sunday brunch, while those with children may enjoy a Friday evening around a fire pit (with youth-appropriate yard games nearby), and your senior members may prefer a nice dinner paired with their favorite wine. It’s not so much about what age enjoys which activity, but more about ensuring that you offer a variety of amenities that cater to varying interests.

Additionally, Pew Research states that millennials value giving back to their community, and this is something that private clubs have been doing for decades. People from every living generation today value charity. Establishing a charitable committee can bring young adults, new parents, and seniors together for the greater good. And while some millennials at your club may be unmarried, that doesn’t mean they’re the only members who are single.  A “singles night” or dedicated “networking” event are just a couple ways to promote connectivity between different generations—and you may just help kindle a few sparks along the way.

Tying It All Together

When broken down, one specific value holds fast to most people, regardless of age or demographic. And that is connection … feeling like they are a part of something. Community; that’s the common thread. Cliché or not, almost every human has the innate longing to connect with other people. A longing for warm conversation that breeds ideas and contemplation. The good news? That’s what private clubs are all about. As a club leader, focus your efforts more on fostering club culture and embrace activities and facilities that allow those who occupy its space to flourish.

Comradery is something we all pursue and the key is to infuse connectivity into all that your club offers. You don’t have to get rid of traditional values to do so, either. In fact, research tells us that millennials are more value-driven than all generations that came before. The mistake a lot of companies make is assuming that everything they’ve ever done has to be revamped in order to attract younger generations. When in reality, they respect traditions just as much as the generation before them. Instead, get creative with activates and update facilities so that they remain attractive in today’s world, but don’t change the foundation on which your club was built. They, as well as your members, will see right through that.

Today, the traditional family household is changing. Some millennials are choosing to move out of their parents’ house later in life to help pay off student loans before renting or buying a home. Similarly, some older boomers may be moving in with their children due to age or to help with grandchildren while both parents work full-time. More and more, we’re seeing up to four generations occupy one roof. And it’s working! As a home away from home, it only makes sense that your club learns to happily occupy the same.

What is your club doing to welcome a multi-generational membership? Leave a comment below!

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