Becoming a Destination

For 80%* of members and visitors, the golf course is the aspect of a club they hold most dear. It is pivotal to the club’s reputation.

However, when we imagine a ‘golf destination’, don’t we think of something more than just a club with a great golf course?

The word destination intimates something that goes beyond the golf course. It could be a desirable location, a known identity, a famed history, a longstanding tradition, exceptional service or just an overarching experience of quality.

If a club wishes to elevate its status, to be recognized as a destination, then there are three key areas that club leaders need to develop:

1. Developing the Customer Experience

The customer experience itself is typically comprised of three parts: the complete customer journey, a customer’s interaction with brand touchpoints, and the environments a customer experiences – including digital.

By developing an intimate understanding of each of these areas, and thoughtfully mapping them to the satisfaction of members and guests, you can make significant strides in the customer experience at your club.

A ‘complete customer journey’ is different for each and every individual, but starts before you think it might. Earlier this year I spoke of the advent and importance of online reviews – which are just one way customers research your club. Add in social media, web presence and press coverage and you’ll quickly realize that, actually, the customer journey and experience can often start well before they enter the front gates.

To learn about this in greater detail, member and customer surveys provide an excellent opportunity to seek intelligence and data. Reviewing these insights in the context of your club’s mission statement will then reveal improvements you can make.

Next, how do customers experience, navigate and interact with your club once they are through the gates? What is the first thing they see when entering? Who is the first person they will meet? What improvements can you make to improve or enhance that welcome or first interaction?

Remember: Customer’s expectations are often informed by their experiences elsewhere and can be unfair, misaligned, or even unreasonable in the context of your club. Expectations relating to food and beverage provision can be informed by the Michelin Star restaurant in a major metropolitan area, or expectations of service may be informed by their recent stay at a five-star hotel.

For this reason, any changes that you make should be in the context of fulfilling – or reviewing – your club’s mission statement: this brings an authenticity, integrity and brand-oriented focus to the experience improvements you make.

2. Developing Surrounding Facilities

Destination clubs typically focus new development or capital enhancement efforts in one of two areas: facilities that complement their core service offering OR facilities which offer them a competitive advantage over their local market and immediate competitors.

The trend in recent years has been to focus capital improvements on facilities appealing to families, children and, more generally, health and wellbeing. Clubs putting in place such additional amenities look to do so with the support of a long-term strategic plan, underpinned by strategic intelligence. In other words, they are taking the necessary steps to secure the long-term sustainability of their club.

Clubs looking to capitalize on trends and gain a competitive advantage have often done so with smaller, yet impactful additions. Take casual dining for example, where we have come across café/lounge-style areas conducive to working and individual club utilization, or straightforward, family-friendly dining experiences like fire pits, pizza ovens, ice cream bars and food trucks.

Developing facilities and expanding the amenity package can help to position the club as ‘the only place with _______’, and support the need and ambition to offer a genuine competitive point of difference in a challenging marketplace.

3. Appealing to a Wider Audience

Aside from offering an exceptional customer experience, true destination clubs cast a wide net by appealing to a broad spectrum of audiences. Membership privileges often include such things as extended family access; customized, unique, and well-attended social events; reciprocal and travel programs with other destinations; as well as tournaments, competitions, and special events that support the continued expansion of the club’s brand footprint and reach.

The key to enhancing the club’s appeal to a wider audience is not simply an exercise in volume or offering a litany of activities, but it is rather to position the club as a network extender. The club should be perceived as a way to enjoy shared, common experiences – known to be highly connected to achieving a sense of happiness and fulfillment. The club isn’t just for the ‘primary member’ anymore, it should be for everyone relevant to that members’ life.

This is not to say full privileges for all. The suggestion is that drawing connections between the club and customers’ social lives increases relevance, which is essential in support of member and customer retention and overall club satisfaction.

In the eyes of members and customers, for a club to be truly recognized as a destination, it must become a conduit for their lifestyle. The club is a platform to more effectively enable them to live the life they want to lead.

To facilitate that, embrace an unerring commitment to cultivating a superior customer experience, developing surrounding facilities, and appealing to a wider audience. By delivering on these key criteria a club can embark on the journey to changing customer’s perceptions and be known for being much more than just a place to play golf.

*Syngenta, Growing Golf in the UK, 2014

This article was authored by GGA Manager and Member Satisfaction expert Bennett DeLozier.

Revitalizing Your Club Post-Recession

Clubs have navigated their way through recessions before, but many are still feeling the lingering effects of the Great Recession of the late 2000s. The result has been a lack of development, particularly in amenities.

GGA Partner Stephen Johnston shows how clubs can emerge from the downturn and offer a compelling proposition in today’s marketplace.

GGA and the CSCM Launch First of Two Research Initiatives

The Canadian Society of Club Managers (CSCM) and GGA have formed a strategic partnership to produce research and insight for the benefit of CSCM members and the club industry at large.

The first joint research initiative launched December 6, 2018 with a comprehensive survey of CSCM members that focuses on attitudes, trends and best practices from club leaders. The purpose of this survey is to gain insights on the Canadian club industry and gauge the opinions of Club leaders on the industry outlook.

The results of the survey will be shared for the benefit of all participants and will form the basis for ongoing industry research that will increase the reach and impact of the CSCM for its members and Canadian club managers.

The December 2018 survey is the first of two club industry research initiatives CSCM and GGA will undertake each year. Following the completion of this survey, the second initiative will target business media through lifestyle research initiatives that generate interest beyond the club industry.

Click here to learn more about Canadian club industry research, trends and best practices.

Effective Beginnings

A good friend says he starts his list of New Year’s resolutions with one word written across the top of a legal pad. The word is “effective,” which is a good choice because it implies results. Results normally require action on our part – and usually not the same things, done the same ways. We need to do things differently and better before we can improve relationships, be more efficient and increase the value we bring to our businesses.

If you hope to be more effective in 2019, here are 10 suggestions.

1. Track your time. Even the busiest and most efficient people waste parts of their day’s most precious resource. The time-stealing culprits are numerous and easily mistaken: idle chit-chat, social media, meetings. Like a sensible diet, each has its place, but moderation is the key. Keep a log for a week to know where every minute was spent. Evaluate how much was spent effectively, in pursuit of goals and objectives. Then repeat the task the next week, keeping in mind the previous week’s wasted time, and compare results. You might be astonished.

2. Measure accomplishments, not effort. It was the Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle who wrote, “We live in deeds, not years.” It’s worth knowing how long it took you or your staff to accomplish a task or project, but it’s the outcome that is the ultimate measure of our work. Did that 12-hour day you just put in move the needle on a strategic objective? If not, where could your time have been better spent?

3. Stop multi-tasking. People like to brag about juggling multiple tasks and priorities. But time and efficiency experts agree that often these same people are deluding themselves, actually doing twice as much work half as effectively. Focus on one task, complete it and move to your next priority. Effective multi-tasking is called delegating.

4. Get started. If 80 percent of success is showing up (Woody Allen is supposed to have said that), getting started must account for at least another 10 or 15 percent. Knowing where to begin starts with knowing where you want to finish. So, start with one of your goals and work back. Develop a routine that gets you going each day. Whatever works, do it consistently.

5. Dress to impress. Unfair though it may be, people begin forming opinions of others before their first word is spoken. They do it based on an untucked shirttail, an ill-fitting sport coat and the shine on a person’s shoes. Don’t let any of those things negatively influence an opinion.

6. Write simply, clearly and factually. Most everyone is called on to report on programs and results. Maybe you’re making a pitch for a budget increase in your area. All of those things start with putting your thoughts on paper. What and how one writes greatly influences how people respond. Organize your thoughts, express them in short sentences composed of carefully chosen words, without misspellings and typos, and then edit carefully. Before hitting “send” or sealing the envelope, read what you’ve written out loud to yourself or a colleague. If the logic seems jumbled or the words don’t flow easily, take the time to fix it.

7. Read and then read some more. President Harry Truman noted, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” For many of us, reading to keep up with trends and developments in our field is the last thing we seem to have time to do. If that’s the case, schedule reading time just as you would time for any other task.

8. Improve your workspace. Your workspace is a reflection of your state of mind and organizational abilities. Are golf clubs, coffee cups and boxes scattered about? Or is it purposely organized to help you to focus on your most immediate responsibilities and tasks? Simplify your work-setting by eliminating the clutter and you’ll find it easier to focus on priorities.

9. Establish your own wind-down routine. Be deliberate in finishing your work, just as you were in starting it. Make your priority list for tomorrow as a part of winding down and then leave, knowing there will always be more work to be done and that there’s always tomorrow.

10. Dream big. How else are you going to be really effective?

GGA’s Henry DeLozier penned this article for Golf Course Industry Magazine.