When Power and Fame Come to Visit
The president, your senator, the reigning NCAA basketball champions from your home state, a movie/music/sports star is making his or her way to your club. Excited or resigned?
Many club GMs have encountered the Famous Guest Dilemma. It can be exciting to have a national politician drop by for a fundraising lunch or a celebrity come for a round of golf or the reigning championship team come for a celebratory dinner. But the excitement can be quickly dispersed with security details, member displacement and the need to manage would-be gawkers. A few tips from the pros:
- Draw as little attention as possible. “We have 1,600 members,” shared one club manager, “and if they know someone famous is coming, they’ll miraculously all find a reason to be at the club.” And that can lead to security and service nightmares. Staff is human, too. “We give only those who need to know a heads up when we’re expecting VIPs.”
- Security at every level. When presidents come to visit, Secret Service will sweep and secure the facilities. But your own security should be involved with identifying easily accessible parking, the most secure entrances and exits, and pathways through the facilities.
- Maintain guest and member privacy. Security helps keep media and paparazzi at bay. “We may be called upon to allow one camera person,” said the manager of a Northeastern club that has seen its share of politicos. “But that’s typically all we’d allow. We have to maintain the privacy of our members.”
- Red carpet without the carpet. Even when we’re keeping them under wraps, we’re still striving to please and impress. “We’ll assign our best staff and manager to that shift,” shared another GM. Others check dietary needs and preferences beforehand, set aside private dining rooms, and otherwise offer full white glove service. For many if not most clubs, however, that’s just another day at the office.
Another day at the office — and often one we’d like to get through quickly to get club life back to normal. But we’re human, too; we admit it is a little bit exciting. Especially as we’re in the business of special occasions. It gives us the ultimate opportunity to showcase our expertise.