Date: September 19, 2014


The role that Hospitality (Food & Beverage) plays in clubs supports the social enhancement of the club.  Whilst some clubs may be perfectly equipped to meet their members’ needs with offerings of barbeques, hot pies and sandwiches served by fellow members, others may large numbers of qualified staff offering a la carte dinning, multiple service outlets, and have function facilities for large scale weddings, dinners and cocktail parties.

One thing that is common amongst clubs is that their hospitality operation is very different from most segments of the hospitality industry.  For one, most medium to large clubs offer a diversity of eating experiences under the one roof. 

Unlike a café or restaurant that tend to specialise in one type of catering, a chef in a club prepares all types of catering for the diversity of member needs and for private functions.  The repeat nature of the clientele means the club has to keep producing something new each week. 
These operations are therefore very much creative rather than highly process driven.  Naturally, there are higher costs in being a creative operation.

A club is largely capped in its clientele, based on the number of members. Whilst the services standards in most member clubs are expected to be high, there is most often an expectation that the profit margin on food is contained to what could be referred to as "member prices".

One key area where clubs have grown to reflect the wider hospitality industry is the growth in the proportion of informal dining compared with formal dining.

Research via club benchmarking makes it clear that the larger the club, the lower the nett return on investment from food and beverage and the lower the proportion of club nett revenue that is derived from hospitality services.  

A small club with less food variety and has volunteer support may budget to make a considerable proportion of its income from the nett profit from sales in food and beverage.  In most large clubs, the service expectations leave little nett income from food and beverage. 

Large clubs that invest many millions in new clubhouses should not be under the illusion that the clubhouse investment will be paid for out of food and beverage profits.  The real vanue in a clubouse is the social interaction and member service that it offers, supporting the core business of the club, the golf course membership revenue.

Private functions can be a great way for clubs to recover monies lost in the day to day service to members and generate a break-even or profitable hospitality business.


See this GA golf club webinar recording "Book more weddings, functions & conferences."

See webinar on creating your Facebook business account.

Club Operation or Contract Caterers?

Often clubs review their catering operation and consider whether it may be more cost effective to out-source the operation.  Clubs should consider carefully the pros and cons of outsourcing their operation such as the expectations of; cost and pricing, the diversity and quality of food offered and the control over decision making.  It is best to spend time comparing existing operations with similar clubs and to talk with clubs that have outsourced their catering to hear their insights.

Some Useful Sources of Information

Profitable Hospitality click here

Club Management Association Australia click here

Club Management Association of America click here Issues of "Club Magazine" inside

Club Resources International click here