Big Ridge Mountain Club began accepting memberships in June of last year (here’s what we’ve built so far). Now that we’ve had about 16 months of operations under our belt, it’s time to take all of our learnings and introduce some new plan options to better accommodate the different types of people who want to be a part of our little club.
We now have three options for membership: Small ($500 per month), Medium ($1,000 per month), and Large ($1,500 per month). I know these plan names are terrible, so if you have better ideas, please share them.
Before getting into how each plan differs, I’ll first share what all three plans have in common:
Big Ridge Mountain Club is a non-equity membership club.
The only fees members pay are monthly memberships fees. There aren’t nightly fees or boat fees or firewood fees. Members do not own any real estate. There are no assessments. I share this because that was not my original plan way back when, and to this day, people still ask me if the club is a timeshare, how ownership works, etc. To be clear: It’s a club, people can join the club, membership requires paying membership fees, members can easily cancel their membership.
Members can come as often as they like, provided we have room for them to stay.
People often ask, “So how many nights do I get?” Well, it’s not really set up that way. Membership allows you to reserve dates on the calendar, we limit the reservations you can hold at any one time (by both points and number of reservations), but we don’t limit your frequency of visit. So if there is availability next Monday to Thursday, you have some excess reservation capacity, and you want to come on up, just reserve that time and come on up! If the same is true the following week, come on up again! Theoretically, you can repeat that ad infinitum. In practice, however, “large plan” members have reservations on the books two years into the future and “medium plan” members have reservations a year into the future, so lots of dates are already booked—particularly weekends in the very near future. However, mid-week time (especially in the low season) tends to be very available.
Every lodging has an associated amount of “points” per night depending on the season and day of the week; low season weeknights are half as many points as high season weekend nights; holidays (e.g. Valentine’s Day weekend, the week of Independence Day, Easter weekend, etc) are half again more points than high season weekend nights.
Each membership plan comes with a different amount of points that members can hold in reservation. Larger plans come with the ability to hold both more points in reservation and the ability to reserve dates that are farther into the future than smaller plans. That means the larger your plan, the more dates you can make sure will be available to you.
Members have access to a calendar showing all the openings, and they simply text our team to make reservations. We send everyone a monthly statement—as a reminder of upcoming visits, an accounting of how many points they have available for additional reservations, and as a prompt to check out the calendar. The calendar is pretty low tech (a shared Google sheet).
Signing up, getting the first visit on the calendar, & the timing of the first payment
New members start making reservations the moment they join, but their membership payments don’t begin until the date of their first visit. Many (most?) people have already made a lot of plans for their next several months, so when new members join, they tend to book a first visit that is several months into the future.
Those are the basics! What follows is a description of each of our membership plans, how they work, and for whom each is best suited.
This is best for people with a flexible schedule who can be opportunistic about their visits and are looking for an affordable membership option, as well as companies wanting a great spot for overnight retreats during the week.
Small members can reserve dates that are three to ninety days into the future and hold one reservation of up to 2,000 points on the calendar at a time. 2,000 points works out to be a long weekend in the high season in the Spring House, or five nights over a weekend in the low season. Medium and large members can reserve dates much farther into the future, so small members will generally be getting the “excess capacity” nights that those with larger plans have not already reserved. With that said, there are always openings on the calendar—even in the summer and especially on weekdays—so if someone is flexible and opportunistic, this is a great option.
Because we so often have two- and three-day stretches of open weeknights, I think this would be a great option for small company retreats, and I designed this plan for members who didn’t plan to come up a ton and who also didn’t need to plan very far out—that includes businesses. As of right now (for example), weeknights in the last week of November and first week of December are open; that’s the perfect time for an annual planning retreat.
Medium members can reserve dates that are three days to one year into the future and hold six reservations of up to 10,000 points on the calendar at a time. With some minor tweaks, this is the plan we launched with that the significant majority of our members are on.
For some context as to how this shakes out, members on this plan currently have an average of four reservations on the calendar and visited an average of five times in the last year. Join as a medium member if you’d like to come up to the mountains a bunch, if you’d like to be able to send friends and other members of your family up as your guests, if you’d like to book some trips pretty far into the future, and if you’d like to use the club boat on Lake Glenville.
Large members can reserve dates that are three days to two years into the future and hold ten reservations of up to 15,000 points on the calendar at a time. These are power users! I encourage folks to join as medium members, and if they find they need MORE BIG RIDGE, they should upgrade to this plan.
We will add more capacity as we add more lodging and amenities. For the time being, I think we can comfortably accommodate another four or five medium and large members, and a great many small members. If our members start to struggle to find dates that work for them, we’ll adjust course. My goal is to build something that people want to be a part of for a very long time and I’ve set up the membership so that folks can easily cancel if it’s not working for them. A long, long time ago, I wrote a blog post about trying to set things up so it’s easy to leave but few want to go, and that’s what we’re doing here.
If this sounds great to you, let’s talk and we’ll get you set up.
As we grow, we’ll develop lots of systems and processes, have a bunch of forms, and add layers upon layers of management and bureaucracy. In the meantime, you can just call or text me via the club line at (828) 547-4447.
Posted on September 29, 2023 by Geoff Graham