Golf Consulting: Value in Technology

While many golf clubs, resorts, facilities, their owners and management teams are embracing technology in its many guises, many golf facilities still operate as if they are in the dark ages.

Those who have embraced the technology, the early adopters, and those who have been convinced have all understood the potential to engage existing customers and attract potential new ones via the web, social networking, data capture, CRM and better marketing. Not just for the pro and his shop but for all areas of their business.

Despite what some of the old school brigade believe, embracing this new technology is not just a short term fad, nor does it necessarily mean buying expensive gadgetry. Technology and its frequent use is widely adopted in the most cutting edge, profitable and best customer facing industries around. What does it make you think?

I am sure that most people, even PGA professionals, have heard of Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn – and probably even have their own pages. I am also sure that they have also heard of iPhone applications, online tee booking, loyalty schemes, CRM and perhaps had even thought about collecting customer data. My guess is that you will also have heard of video analysis but never quite thought about pulling the jigsaw of all of the above together for full commercial (and most importantly your customer’s) benefit.

The question should then be why should I use technology?

Technology, and in particular, the web, ensures that you are always open for business. As “google” is generally the first point of search reference for anything (buying a woollen jumper, searching for a restaurant or looking to play golf) make sure you don’t lose out by not putting your business online.

Don’t be narrow minded – putting your business online means anything from marketing and promoting your retail offering, tee time booking, offering conference and banqueting, or providing an online brochure for events and to attract packages for the corporate or group market.

This simple search function is strengthened by a simple, but effective strategy of social media, blogging and development of relevant, interesting, trusted information – exactly the sort of thing that

Use of technology, also means a simple, efficient and quick means to collect data. Do not overlook the value of this data either. It is valuable, important data that will quickly provide means to add dollars to your bottom line. (Look out for future posts on data and its value here at Fettes Management).

What is generally important (at an absolute minimum) is customer name, customer address and the cheapest means to communicate with them – an email address. And as a golf facility, you probably have a decent starting database in your membership list.

However, this is data in its simplest form – technological solutions can cheaply allow you to add valuable customer information to this – overlaying buying activities to an individual, group, club or section in order to make assumptions for future marketing interests. Information can come from EPOS systems, retail sales systems, online membership, newsletter subscriptions, smart card membership systems, loyalty schemes and use of promotional codes and marketing vouchers.

But steady on – one step at a time!

Technology also makes marketing your golf facility easy and effective.  The simple capture of an email allows you a quick, “free” means to communicate with your database – with planned messages that are of interest to the recipient.  Again don’t think small – work together – ensuring your bar, food outlet, Club secretary and pro all work together to market appropriately to this database, and equally devise a plan to capture more data each and every day at every customer touch point. As a basic rule – this will stand you in good stead.

Technology ultimately allows you to stay in control. Whatever the blazer brigade tell you about big brother, data theft and the capture of personal information – it is illegal to use it for anything that you do not have permissions for.

Technology does, undoubtedly, allow you to do many things, and as with developments to technology on the golf course, behind the scenes within golf facilities it helps make doing business far quicker, far easier and with greater success than with the old fashion methods. It would be strongly advised that any golf business that has not yet embraced what is out there to help you – to reconsider as otherwise you will fall behind.

For further information, email me via the Contact section.

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About davidmorganjenkins
I am an experienced international, commercial, strategic business leader delivering customer focussed initiatives for world class leisure & sports brands. I have a credible track record of leadership and senior management experience in particular with business operations, marketing & business development within leisure, sport, ecommerce/retail & B2C sectors. I have a unique creative vision, supported by sound financial management & budgetary responsibility having increased brand awareness, sales & core revenue by 60% & profit 200 % at Football Aid over a 3 year period. In parallel, I am centred on attention to detail ensuring a consistent product offering and the greatest possible customer experience. This is delivered through strong collaborative teamwork and creating a culture of creativity, determination and enthusiasm amongst team members. I possess an ability to cement & develop relationships at all levels and can easily engage, report to & upwardly manage share & stakeholder alliances ensuring delivery of business objectives. Key skills Developing & implementing business plans focussing on sales, profits & volume Bringing sales & marketing strategy to life to inspire customers; making visions/dreams a reality Customer service; driving enhanced customer satisfaction & delivering a reputation for excellence Developing, influencing & implementing plans & partnerships that deliver competitive advantage Effective planning & delivery of multiple channel, venue & geographical programmes & projects Leading & managing operation, marketing & business development teams to believe in their ability to succeed Experience headlines Commercial; sales, strategy, development, marketing, sponsorship, promotion, customers service Business administration: P&L, performance, improvement & operational management Marketing & brand; communications, brand management, development & membership/loyalty Ecommerce & retail; FMCG, optimisation, data (CRM), social media, SEO, PPC & affiliates Technology; CRM, web TV, new media, smart phone/iPhone applications

6 Responses to Golf Consulting: Value in Technology

  1. DIESEL says:

    Running a profitable golf course involves putting the players first. Sometimes monetary decisions will have to be made to create the most possible value for your patrons. In the long-run, your members will thank you!:)

    Nice post!

  2. It does require putting the players first, but dont be narrow minded enough to believe that its only them that are of value. Im sure the PGA would teach you differently, but equally important (and perhaps more important) is the restaurant customers, the pay as you play customers, the corporate bookers (who you woulud want to have return year on year) and those who come to spend money in the club shop. If you look at it that way, your members are only a small slice of the potential market and there is more out there to bring in.

    Sadly, sometimes its little wonder why so many golf clubs are in trouble.

  3. David Long says:

    I totally agree with the points you raised in this blog post. It seems to me that there are four core areas of business for a golf club. Membership (keeping the ones you have and getting more to join); Pro shop (equipment sales and tuition); Visitors (pay and play, societies, corporate days) and last but not least Food & Beverage (bar sales; restaurant, club events and others (weddings etc)
    All of these areas can benefit from enhanced communications, better use of technology etc. And it shouldn’t cost the earth. If you could increase memberships by 2 people per year, or let’s say 8 extra pay and play tee fees a month, would you be willing to adopt new marketing tools and methods?

  4. Matt Pekarek says:

    I have not seen any data demonstrating that the use of technologies mentioned in the original post has increased the number of golf rounds played.

    It makes sense that use of technology can help a club or course compete and steal rounds from other courses, but that is a temporary solution. The underlying problem faced by all golf sectors in the USA is a lack of demand relative to the volume of supply.

    While we all need to embrace technology, doing so will not generate the roughly 50-million new annual rounds of golf needed to put the US golf industry on solid financial footing.

  5. Thanks for your comments Matt, as above, I would not be narrow minded enough to think that only rounds of golf played would be the definitive answer.

    Looking at golf as a business, its component parts (as detailed by David above) are key component parts of your members, and guests, offering – with each one offering a great potential return on its own, but better across all areas from only one customer. Its many business wins with one customer if you get it right at a club level.

    I wouldnt only judge the success of a PGA Pro only by rounds played – if PGA Pros only look after the shop, then retail, rounds and perhaps even working with F&B on joint promotional initiatives would be a better series of KPIs. If a Director of Goif (or with wider remit (rightly or wrongly – see previous blog https://fettesmanagement.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/view-from-the-spire-best-man-for-the-job/)) then I would be looking at any way the facility generates income by association with the very sport at the facilities core. Technology allows you to bring together the strategies and actions of these very disperate component parts of the complicated jigsaw.

    I appreciate that a golf course geography is largely made up of several hundred acres of course and a small shop – but your returns are rarely linked to the ratio of space. So, make sure all parts work for you – and not just getting people playing. Slowely slowely catchy monkey!

    As for getting 50 million new annual rounds – the industry does need to achieve this. But the likelihood is that it will not achieve this working alone – or doing one big thing. It will be by a series of little steps where every golf club that interacts, engages and promotes relevant messages to its known database of members, guests, partners and drives new traffic across all of its areas will succeed as a stand alone venture (that firstly will create security). Then these succesful facilities will become cornerstones of every community.

    Golf in that community will thrive, visitor numbers will increase, membership will grow and most importantly, provided you spend some time on focussing on driving interest and engagement with the young, the future of golf will be brighter. That, my friend, is how you generate 50 million rounds of golfing gold.

    But its not as easy as that – but it is achievable if each individual club focusses (for a short while at least) on its self, makes itself secure and stable and then takes itself forward with a strategy similar to the activities mentioned above.

    Technology exists to make your life easier – you might as well use it.

  6. James says:

    Great post. We have developed a Golf Course Event Management SaaS program called Golf EMS. After 5 years of development through using the system ourselves as a Golf Event Outfitter I have gained an incredible insight into the lack of technology used in the golf industry today.

    My opinion of our technology is that it may help increase rounds, or not, but what it will definitely do is help people with the monstrous task of organizing an event and in doing so increase the likelihood of that organization holding a future event.

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