Academic journal article Australian Journal of Hospitality Management

A Profile of Sydney Club Members: Implications for Strategic Management in a Competitive Environment

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Hospitality Management

A Profile of Sydney Club Members: Implications for Strategic Management in a Competitive Environment

Article excerpt


Registered clubs in New South Wales, Australia have enjoyed a privileged competitive position for four decades, being the only providers of machine gambling in the state. However, increased competition for this core product and heightened awareness of its social impacts, as reflected in two recent government inquiries, point to a need to reassess their strategic direction, an exercise benefiting from comprehensive knowledge of market characteristics. Accordingly, this paper reports on a study of 3 000 members of six large Sydney clubs, profiling them in terms of socio-demographic characteristics, club patronage, participation in club activities and gambling behaviour. The results confirm the role of large Sydney clubs as multi-functional leisure establishments, catering to middle-aged, working class patrons with their key revenue-generating markets drawn from lower socio-economic groups. Implications of the findings are presented as alternatives for clubs such as those sampled to pursue strategies of market penetration, market development, product development or diversification to sustain their long-term competitiveness.

Keywords: Registered Club, Gaming, Gambling, Club Membership


Despite the status of registered (or licensed) clubs as major hospitality and gambling providers in most jurisdictions in Australia, little published research has been conducted into their membership. Club members are simultaneously shareholders and customers of these organisations so club boards and management must strive to meet members' needs as paying customers and to safeguard the financial interests of their clubs on behalf of these same shareholders. Thus, a knowledge of the characteristics of club members and their patronage of clubs would appear important in meeting these twin objectives through effective strategic management which takes into account, amongst other factors, changing external conditions. While individual clubs sometimes gather this information for their own use, there is little collective data in the public arena on club members. This paper aims to address this void by presenting results of a study involving 3 000 members of six large clubs in Sydney, New South Wales (NSW).

Drawing on this sample, this paper aims to:

* profile the socio-demographic characteristics, club patronage, club-based activities and gambling behaviours of the club members;

* profile the socio-demographic characteristics of regular gaming machine players, which are the main revenue-generating market for NSW clubs; and

* discuss the implications of the findings for the future strategic management of large NSW clubs.

The paper firstly provides a brief overview of the NSW registered clubs industry and reviews prior research into club membership. It then explains the methodology used, presents results and discusses their implications for the future strategic management of large NSW clubs.

Brief History of the New South Wales Club Industry

The Registered Clubs Association of NSW defines clubs as `groups of people sharing a common interest who have bonded together to pursue or promote that interest' (1994, p.3). The majority of NSW clubs are founded on members' sporting interests or returned service affiliation, although ethnic, religious, workers, social and community clubs are also common. Each of the club's members buys a share or membership in the club, contributing a certain amount to a common fund for the benefit of members (McDonald 1980). For registration, the main requirements under corporation's law and the Registered Clubs Act 1976 NSW are that a club must be incorporated, be conducted in good faith and occupy bonafide premises financed from club funds for the purposes of the club.

The NSW Liquor Act first licensed eighty-five clubs for trading in 1905, although many of these clubs had existed since the late 1800s. …

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