Detailed research shows that 93% of customers admit to online reviews impacting on their purchasing decisions*.
For golf clubs, this means they need to find new ways to ensure exceptional service is embedded at every turn of the customer experience. Because wherever there are flaws, the chances are, someone somewhere will know about them, as GGA Director Asia Pacific, Paul Hinton, explains…
If there is a reality club managers need to come to terms with, it is that internal experience impacts external perception, more than ever.
But rather than becoming fearful this will somehow expose areas of weakness, it should be viewed as an opportunity to take a strategic view of service quality. This will help to focus and optimize all aspects (and generate additional revenue), while providing a platform to broaden out to new areas, such as Functions and Events where I have personally witnessed the transformational impact this can have.
Putting needs of the customer first
Clubs are well-known as places where members can socialize, relax and avoid the commercial pressures of the outside world. So, while you may speak to your teams about upselling, cross-selling or add-on sales, to the customer this should only ever be seen as ‘service’.
Whether staff are trained to offer a schooner of beer rather than a middy, a cake or dessert with a coffee, or to pick up on deteriorating grips on members’ golf clubs when they are being cleaned this is all part of putting the customer first.
Providing the service offering is delivered with integrity, the member will feel valued and looked after. Not only will the club benefit from increased revenues in the short-term, but can expect favorable online reviews and an enhanced perception of how the club is run and how customers value it.
Serving as one
A club may account for multiple businesses, from the self-employed PGA Professional to franchise caterers or even events teams, but this is of no significance to the customer. Online reviews will attach themselves to your venue, your brand, whether it is golf, a particular event, a lesson or otherwise. Therefore, the need for a consistency in service quality across all aspects of the venue is critical to its wider success.
At a fundamental level, regular meetings between all business owners should take place, though club executives and/or presidents should take the strategic lead in ensuring an exceptional and consistent customer experience is delivered across all aspects of the business.
Exploring new opportunities
Members needs and expectations are changing; the likes of traditional three-course meals and formal dining is on the decline. As dining trends change, and with a greater desire for socialization emerging, developing a calendar of events for members that offers a range of experiences to different demographic and interest groups represents a sound strategic direction.
A creative and innovative events team is a great starting point to shape this direction. By taking traditional events and transforming them into more contemporary and family-friendly occasions, clubs can better accommodate the needs of its members, create the opportunity to deliver more exceptional service and, crucially, differentiate itself from its competitors.
When it comes to activating an events strategy, share the enthusiasm by planning with the operational committees to engage their help in promoting the event.
Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of word-of-mouth, supported by a communications plan. The event experience starts with the promotion of the event and the booking, so if that is online, ensure the website and booking platforms are functioning correctly and that club staff are briefed on the event. Suggest to members, to extend the invitation to fellow members and or guests during the booking process too.
Service at the event is a critical success factor, from the moment members and visitors arrive at the venue to the moment they depart. This is where trained staff can play an influential role in exceeding expectations by being professional, courteous, respectful and engaging.
Ideally a ‘wow factor’ needs to be created, from room theming to entertainment, ensuring attention-to-detail is at such a level, it provides a positive talking point for members and visitors to take away with them.
Although this may sound like a significant undertaking, I have seen clubs increase food and beverage revenue from $2.5M to $5M in three years, driven by successful club events, improved service and products, innovation and improved marketing and communications.
*Research from Podium ‘2017 State of Online Reviews’ available to view here.
Paul Hinton is a Director of GGA’s Asia Pacific Office, located in Sydney, Australia.