The Power of Women
- November 11, 2019
- Business Planning, Insight, Latest News, Membership, Private Clubs, Strategy, Success
Women are widely regarded as connectors, more likely to invite family members and friends to join them in activities and pursuits than their male counterparts. With that in mind, GGA’s Linda Dillenbeck explores ways in which clubs can increase their appeal to women and unlock new customers in the process.
You have probably read articles encouraging clubs to increase their efforts to attract women and families as a strategy to improve long-term private club sustainability. Most articles focus on amenities clubs may choose to add or expand, such as adding swimming pools, more casual dining options, or even introducing other sports, such as tennis.
Although the amenity package offered will certainly be a part of a prospect’s decision-making process, equally important, if not more so, is the atmosphere and ambiance a prospect will experience while visiting the club.
Make perception reflect reality
Let’s start with a simple sobering fact; your perception of your club is probably not most people’s reality. To gain a clear picture of how your club is perceived by women and families, you first need to understand what’s important to them and the type of experience they expect.
Conducting a walk-through with different profiles of female and family customers can provide invaluable insights. It’s something all club leaders should be encouraged to do.
To supplement individual club efforts, and help operational teams understand and improve methods of providing a welcoming experience to women and families, I interviewed a number of private club members and club professionals across North America, with some interesting feedback.
“Women are more social then men,” commented Teresa S. “They want to find a connection beyond business or golf, and really get to know someone. If those opportunities are provided through club events, women will bring their family and friends to share in the experience,” she added.
The vast majority of women play golf to have fun and socialize, rather than to post a score. As Kathy G. outlined: “Staff should encourage women and families to play the game as they wish, as long as it doesn’t impede others.”
Comments from several women players related to tee sheet access and were summarized by what Tiffany N. shared. “The times ladies are allowed to play, typically on Tuesday or Wednesday morning, are not conducive to those of us who have careers. Until private clubs open up their tee sheets, it will be difficult to attract more play for business and pleasure,” she said.
“I always find it interesting when I approach the first tee and meet the starter,” stated Paula F. “They think they are being helpful by telling me where the forward tees are located. They make that statement based on gender, not skill. My advice to any course operator is to instruct their starters to remember this thought: ‘If you wouldn’t say it to a male golfer, don’t say it to a female golfer’.”
Create fun and relaxing events
Keeping two thoughts in mind - women value social experiences and enjoy connecting with family and friends while having fun - will help staff understand the elements your club should focus upon when planning events. To help you get started, here are some examples of events designed to gather women, their families and friends at the club.
- Schedule ‘Play as you Wish’ days, inviting members to bring family and friends to play golf using formats such as alternate shot, best ball, or middle of the fairway tees that won’t impede play, but will be less intimidating for those who are not avid players.
- Create ‘Share the Game with a Friend’ days which are crafted to be informative and fun. Instructors can provide basic tips, along with their Top 5 Ways to Feel Comfortable on the Course (positioning this as ‘Course Etiquette’ is not a good idea). Follow the range time with the opportunity to play three holes after which everyone can gather for fun, food, and have the opportunity to ‘ask the pros’ questions that arise from their experience.
- Hosted events, conducive to family and friends that don’t involve golf, but focus on entertainment and enjoying time spent with each other. For example, a pumpkin-decorating contest with the club providing the pumpkins and tools, an annual gingerbread house-decorating event for the holidays, or a charitable giving day where members bring items (to which the club adds more) and come together with other members, families, friends and staff to assemble care packages for the local shelter.
Know your audience
Women I know do not believe they deserve special treatment because of their gender. Rather, they simply want to have the opportunity to share experiences with friends and family in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, where the goal is having fun and creating some lasting memories of time spent together.
When you provide a relaxed and friendly club atmosphere as a stage, where women can accomplish this goal, they will be your most loyal recruiters, spreading positive word-of-mouth advertising and peer-to-peer reviews across their social networks, encouraging family and friends to connect through your club.