Protecting our privileges

20 May 2021

The below update from ClubsNSW CEO, Josh Landis was published in the May issue of ClubLIFE Magazine.

Over the last year, clubs have become masters of the 'pivot'.  Constant changes in health guidelines meant clubs would receive advice from ClubsNSW in the evening, brief their staff in the morning, update their COVID-19 safety plans and be implementing completely new processes by lunchtime.  Club managers who used to say "that can't be done" have got on and done it.

Despite our initial assessment that many clubs risked COVID-related closure, the industry is generally enjoying a surprisingly good year.  Regional clubs in particular are performing well, which is pleasing.

These strong results are due to a few factors, including JobKeeper revenue.  But for many clubs, one of the key drivers has been reduced operating costs by ceasing unprofitable marketing promotions such as bingo, discounted meals or the courtesy bus.

Club CEOs are reporting that they are saving significant sums, without impacting revenue, which means the promotions were ineffective.  Consequently, clubs must make a profit to survive.

Of course, those who used to receive these abandoned marketing benefits will want them re-introduced.  But it is reasonable for clubs to use this opportunity to selectively re-introduce promotions which incentivise attendance by 'good' customers.

There is a flipside to this increased club profitability.  Clubs must remember it is a privilege to operate gaming and that privilege must be respected.  If we are to retain our social licence, more focus is needed on how and where clubs distribute profits.  If unprofitable marketing costs are permanently withdrawn, then donations to worthy local charities and sporting groups must be increased.  Clubs must also increase the promotion of their community support, so people know their club is doing the right thing by its local community.  If we do so, we deserve to retain our social licence.

Regarding COVID-19, we welcomed the Government's decision to allow clubs to host two-up without unnecessarily intrusive conditions.  The final restriction is the one person per two square metres rule.  All of us are wondering when it will be scrapped.

Our advice is that the vaccines will prevent people experiencing symptoms if they catch the virus, mitigating the risk of hospitals being overwhelmed.  But the vaccine will not necessarily prevent people catching or transmitting the virus.  This means social distancing will be required for the foreseeable future. It may also mean that mandatory Service NSW QR code sign-in will be with us for a while longer.  In the meantime, ClubsNSW will continue working on ClubPASS and looks forward to rolling it out in clubs soon.

A few other things...

ClubsNSW has formed a partnership with the NSW Pharmacy Guild.  The intent is to see if pharmacies can be built in clubs and help improve the training and distribution of COVID vaccinations.  I thank the Pharmacy Guild for their support.  This builds upon our partnerships with the NRL, Surf Life Saving NSW and other important institutions which understand the significance of supporting clubs.

Speaking of the support given by clubs, the Clubs & Community Awards night will be held on Thursday, 20 May at the ICC, Sydney.  I can't wait to celebrate the community contribution and spirit of our great industry.  I'm also mindful we were unable to celebrate the centenary anniversary of the establishment of ClubsNSW last year, so we will try to make our "100 plus one" really special.  I hope to see you at "C&C" to share the stories that make clubs so special and integral to their communities.

(SOURCE: Josh Landis, ClubsNSW CEO, ClubLIFE May 2021) 

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