We glimpsed behind the curtain of the elegant and clandestine world of private clubs with our self-initiated Sesame project. Our challenge was to bring this deliberately obscured realm into the digital landscape without removing any of the charm. Our research had us interact with members of the most exclusive clubs in the world as well as lawyers who deal with the notoriously complex federal tax code. In short, it was a blast.



Today, everything is seamlessly connected. Technological innovations have streamlined and simplified communication among individuals and businesses. With the help of a smartphone and a credit card, one can easily make a reservation at a five-star hotel or restaurant, book a plane ticket with customized upgrades, and sign up for a class at an exclusive gym - all while waiting outside for your ride share to transport you to your next destination.

Social clubs have resisted the push to modernize communications, valuing tradition and person-to-person connections over convenience. No aspect of membership is more antiquated than the complicated game of telephone that must be played in order to access reciprocity benefits. While seasoned members may be quite comfortable with the process of making arrangements with clubs by phone - often relying on the help of assistants - the emerging generations of members and potential members are less understanding.

The research trips for this project were beyond informative. In speaking with club owners, staff, and members, we heard the story of generational differences repeated - as well as the theme of the inherent tension between convenience and tradition. In addition, we learned a little more about tax law than we anticipated - clubs are very mindful of the importance of maintaining the allowable balance of revenue from members and non-members.

A little bit of the new world opening up a little bit of the old world without sacrificing the specialness.

THE strategy: OPEN sesame

Exclusive does not have to mean antiquated.

Finchfinger conceptualized Sesame - a mobile application that connects clubs and members around the world with a simple and elegant design. With Sesame, club members are able to access club services and benefits with near-zero friction.

Sesame allows members to quickly and easily confirm access to reciprocal clubs when they are away from their home club. Not only does Sesame simplify the process of accessing reciprocity benefits, it helps to streamline all aspects of club communications and member transactions. Sesame provides members with the ability to easily make reservations or request services from their home club and a way for clubs to offer different tiers of access to reciprocal members and potential new members in order to maximize revenue. It also facilitates synchronous communications by offering in-app texting and call routing, ensuring that members can still access the same personalized service that clubs traditionally offer.

Private clubs are not the only target market for Sesame. Sesame has the potential to serve and connect with other membership-based entities such as museums.

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Our favorite projects are in the Financial technology (fintech) space. Our research for Pennyfeather took us around the globe and presented a crash course in the experience economy, banking and the future of wealth management.


We had the opportunity to support McDonald’s to design a conference communications platform to build connectivity within the iconic restaurant chain’s network of employees, franchisees, and partners.