Could a membership business model help your business? Find out how membership has been used with great success by a major London hotel.

Sam Riches, Director of Sales at Marketing at The Curtain in Shoreditch, has explained how membership is used as one element of the five star hotel’s offer.

The Curtain also offers a destination restaurant alongside its accommodation and boasts headline features including a screening room, rooftop area, co-working facilities and much more.

How to use a membership business model? talking hotels with sam riches, the curtain

How to Use a Membership Business Model?

Sam outlined how the membership section of the business operates.

Hotel Marketing with Sam Riches

“The members have a few spaces downstairs which are solely for them but then, of course, they can use the rest of the property as well.

“The members component is very local, they either live or work locally.”

With the hotel now two years old, how would Sam summarise those first 48 months of the business being opened to the public?

“I come from big brands and with those brands you have a name above the door, so you already have a certain amount of production guaranteed before you open.

“With The Curtain it’s a completely new brand and completely new property so I had to start from scratch. I don’t have a sales team travelling the world to bring in business for me, so we had to do that right from the get-go.

“We really wanted to establish ourselves as a five star, key hotel in the area and really wanted to position ourselves through the rate. A lot of perception of a hotel comes through the rate, but that takes a lot of patience as you need be very brave and stick to your rate and understand that it positions you in the market.

“It took a few months for that to happen and a lot of explaining to the owners that the occupancy would come if we just stuck to the rate. It started to happen, we’re beating the budgets and the ownership is happy.

“So we’re in a good place.”

The team delivering The Curtain view the property as a lifestyle hotel and market their product accordingly.

“Ultimately we are five star and we are luxury but we very much operate in the lifestyle circle.

“What makes a lifestyle hotel? It’s a high level of service without the white gloves. We do things very well but in a relaxed way.

“Because we’re an independent hotel we’re more free to listen to our guests and members without having to to go through huge amounts of protocol.

“For example, we’ve literally just launched a tattoo studio in the property. And that’s something not a lot of five star hotels can do, but it suits our demographic and it suits our location.

“We have the freedom to do that and that freedom is a privilege, we need to take advantage of it.”

Sam gave an overview of where ‘OTAs’ (online travel agents) fit in for a modern hotel business.

“The big boys are and Expedia, there are also smaller ones as well emerging OTAs, OTAs that are purely for one geographic region and luxury OTAs.

“Historically you would pay a lot more commission for business that comes through a or Expedia channel than you would if it was to come direct through your website where you pay no commission.

“There’s a huge advance in awareness of how to drive traffic directly to your website so you’re making your business as profitably as possible.

“I think with OTAs its all about making them work for you and with you, not trying to work against them.

“I think it is about making sure OTAs are there to support your business, as opposed to take it over, and there are a number of ways you can do that.”

Explore more hotel, lifestyle and sales insights from Sam Riches by watching our full video interview.

Technology and Automation: Supercharging Your Membership Business

In today’s digital age, embracing technology and automation isn’t just a luxury for membership businesses – it’s a necessity for streamlining operations, enhancing member experience, and achieving sustainable growth. Let’s delve into the incredible tools available and how they can revolutionize your membership model:

Streamlining Management:

  • Membership Management Software (MMS): Ditch the spreadsheets and manual processes! Invest in an MMS platform that seamlessly handles member data, subscriptions, communication, and billing. Automate everything from onboarding new members to processing recurring payments, saving you time and resources.
  • Automated Member Communication: Craft personalized welcome emails, birthday greetings, and renewal reminders based on member data. Use email automation tools to schedule these messages and free yourself from repetitive tasks.
  • Member Self-Service Portals: Empower your members! Give them access to a dedicated portal where they can update their information, manage subscriptions, track progress, and access exclusive content. This reduces your support workload and provides members with greater control over their experience.

Automating Tasks:

  • Payment Processing: Integrate secure payment gateways with your MMS or website to ensure frictionless recurring billing. Say goodbye to chasing late payments and embrace automated renewals for smooth and reliable revenue streams.
  • Content Delivery and Recommendation Engines: Leverage AI-powered tools to personalize content recommendations for your members. Based on their interests and engagement patterns, these tools suggest relevant articles, courses, or resources, keeping them engaged and coming back for more.
  • Automated Task Management: Reduce tedious administrative tasks with project management and workflow automation tools. Schedule social media posts, automate reporting, and streamline internal processes to focus on high-impact activities.

Enhancing Member Experience:

  • Personalized Communications: Use member data to tailor your communication, offering targeted promotional offers, exclusive content, and relevant updates. This makes your members feel valued and connected to your brand.
  • Gamification and Rewards: Implement reward programs or gamification elements to motivate members and increase engagement. Reward points for completing tasks, participating in discussions, or referring friends to boost community activity and member satisfaction.
  • Data-Driven Insights: Analyze member data to understand their preferences, engagement patterns, and pain points. Use these insights to personalize your offerings, optimize content, and deliver the most valuable experiences for your members.

Membership Retention Strategies: Keeping Your Members Closer Than Ever

Membership churn – it’s the dreaded shadow looming over every membership business. But fear not, intrepid entrepreneurs! By implementing clever retention strategies, you can transform these fickle butterflies into loyal bees buzzing happily around your membership hive. Let’s explore some tactics to keep your members engaged, satisfied, and happily subscribed:

Making Them Feel Valued:

  • Exclusive Member Discounts and Perks: Show your appreciation with discounts on products, services, or early access to new offerings. Exclusive access to special events or webinars adds that extra touch of VIP flair.
  • Loyalty Programs and Rewards: Implement a tiered loyalty program where members earn points for activity, engagement, or referrals. Redeem these points for discounts, upgrades, or exclusive merchandise. It’s a constant reminder of the benefits of being a loyal member.
  • Personalized Outreach and Recognition: Go beyond generic “Happy Birthday” emails. Use member data to send personalized greetings, acknowledge important milestones, or highlight their contributions to the community. These individual touches foster a sense of connection and value.

Keeping Them Engaged and Content:

  • Fresh Content and Value Adds: Don’t let your content stagnate! Regularly refresh your offerings with new articles, resources, live sessions, or exclusive content only available to members. Keep them coming back for that next hit of valuable information.
  • Community Building and Interaction: Foster a thriving community where members can connect, share experiences, and learn from each other. Organize online forums, host events, or create member-only social media groups. A vibrant community adds value beyond the content itself.
  • Interactive Features and Gamification: Incorporate interactive elements like quizzes, polls, or challenges to keep members actively engaged. Gamification techniques like points, badges, and leaderboards add a playful element and encourage ongoing participation.

Addressing Pain Points and Feedback:

  • Proactive Communication and Surveys: Don’t wait for complaints. Regularly solicit feedback through surveys, polls, or open forums. Use this data to identify and address potential pain points before they lead to churn.
  • Personalization and Flexibility: Offer customizable features or subscription options to cater to individual needs. Allow members to easily adjust their plans or manage their subscriptions to prevent frustration and disappointment.
  • Responsive Customer Support: Be there for your members! Have a readily available and responsive customer support system to address their concerns, answer questions, and resolve issues promptly. A positive support experience goes a long way.

Scaling Your Membership Business: From Spark to Forest Fire

Congratulations, your membership business is thriving! But don’t get too comfortable on your cozy beanbag of success – it’s time to scale and spread your brand’s magic to a wider audience. Let’s delve into strategies for expanding your membership base without sacrificing the quality and experience that sets you apart:

Attracting New Members:

  • Partnerships and Collaborations: Team up with complementary businesses or influencers to reach new audiences. Cross-promote your offerings, co-host webinars, or offer bundled deals to tap into existing customer bases.
  • Strategic Marketing Campaigns: Design targeted campaigns based on your ideal member profile. Utilize social media advertising, content marketing with SEO optimization, or influencer partnerships to attract qualified leads.
  • Referral Programs and Incentives: Encourage your existing members to become brand ambassadors! Offer attractive referral rewards for recommending your membership to friends and colleagues. Word-of-mouth marketing is powerful and organic.
  • Free Trials and Taster Sessions: Give potential members a taste of your unique value proposition. Offer free trials, limited access periods, or webinars to showcase your content, community, and benefits.

Managing Growth Effectively:

  • Invest in Technology and Automation: As your membership base expands, manual processes become unsustainable. Embrace tools like membership management software, automated communication platforms, and data analytics to streamline operations and maintain efficiency.
  • Optimize Your Onboarding Process: Make the first impression count! Craft a seamless onboarding experience with clear instructions, personalized greetings, and helpful resources to guide new members and ensure their successful integration into your community.
  • Community Management and Scalability: As your community grows, ensure strong engagement and positive interactions. Hire dedicated community managers, establish moderation guidelines, and scale your communication channels to foster a thriving and inclusive space.
  • Maintaining Content Quality and Value: Don’t let your standards slip with growth! Allocate resources to create high-quality content, curate exclusive offerings, and personalize member experiences to avoid diluting the value proposition that attracted your initial members.

Case Studies and Success Stories: Membership Magic in Action

To truly solidify your guide’s impact, let’s showcase the power of these strategies through inspiring real-world examples. Here are three diverse case studies highlighting how successful membership businesses have thrived across different industries:

1. MasterClass: The Celebrity Chef’s Secret Sauce

Challenge: Attract culinary enthusiasts and provide exclusive access to renowned chefs beyond traditional cooking shows.

Solution: MasterClass created a membership platform offering in-depth video courses taught by celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Wolfgang Puck, and Sam Sifton. Members gain personalized feedback, downloadable recipes, and interactive community sessions, all for a monthly subscription fee.

Results: MasterClass boasts over 10 million enrolled members and has secured over $800 million in funding. Their unique value proposition of learning directly from culinary icons fosters consistent member engagement and retention.

Key Takeaway: Partnering with high-profile figures and offering personalized learning experiences can set your membership apart.

2. Peloton: Spinning into a Fitness Revolution

Challenge: Motivate indoor cycling enthusiasts and create a sense of community beyond solo workouts.

Solution: Peloton offers subscription access to interactive live and on-demand cycling classes streamed through their bikes and app. Members compete on virtual leaderboards, participate in team challenges, and connect with other riders through online communities.

Results: Peloton has over 6 million subscribers and generates billions in annual revenue. Their focus on interactive technology and community building fosters a strong sense of belonging and keeps members hooked.

Key Takeaway: Leveraging technology to create interactive experiences and fostering online communities can fuel rapid membership growth.

3. Patreon: Empowering the Creative Revolution

Challenge: Provide a sustainable income stream for creators and offer fans exclusive content and direct support.

Solution: Patreon allows creators to build membership communities where fans pledge monthly contributions in exchange for exclusive content, early access to releases, and behind-the-scenes insights. This direct support model gives creators financial stability and fosters deeper connections with their audience.

Results: Patreon boasts over 8 million patrons and supports over 200,000 creators, with its monthly processing volume exceeding $1 billion. Their innovative model empowers creators and cultivates passionate fan communities.

Key Takeaway: Providing exclusive content and building direct relationships with your target audience can attract loyal members and secure recurring revenue.

Bonus Tip: Include visuals alongside these case studies, showcasing screenshots, member testimonials, or social media posts. This enhances engagement and makes the success stories even more impactful.

By weaving these inspiring examples into your guide, you’ll not only motivate your readers with the possibilities of membership models but also offer valuable practical insights they can apply to their own businesses. Remember, people learn best through real-world stories, so let these case studies ignite the spark of membership success in your readers!

FAQ: Membership Business Model Decoded

Q: Is a membership model right for my business?

A: It depends! Consider your target audience, value proposition, and content creation capabilities. If you offer ongoing value, exclusive content, or community benefits, a membership model could be a great fit.

Q: How much does it cost to start a membership business?

A: Costs vary depending on your platform, technology, and marketing strategies. Free platforms exist, but premium tools and marketing campaigns can involve upfront costs.

Q: How do I price my membership?

A: Research competitor pricing, analyze your target audience’s budget, and consider your value proposition. Offer different tiers with varying benefits and pricing to cater to diverse needs.

Q: How do I attract new members?

A: Leverage social media marketing, content marketing, partnerships, and referral programs. Offer free trials or taster sessions to showcase your value.

Q: How do I keep my members engaged and prevent churn?

A: Provide exclusive content, personalized communication, community building activities, and loyalty programs. Proactively address feedback and constantly innovate to keep members excited.

Q: Where can I find more resources on membership businesses?

A: Attend industry events, join online communities, and read blogs and publications dedicated to membership models. Many platforms offer helpful resources and case studies.

Conclusion: From Spark to Membership Empire

Your journey into the world of membership models doesn’t end here. This guide has equipped you with the knowledge, strategies, and inspiring examples to build a thriving community of loyal members. Remember, growth is a marathon, not a sprint. Be patient, adapt to your audience, and constantly strive to deliver exceptional value.

Embrace the power of technology, foster a vibrant community, and personalize the member experience. With dedication and the insights gleaned from this guide, you can transform your spark of an idea into a thriving membership empire, leaving a lasting impact on your members and the industry at large.

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