Not the Time to Wait

Henry DeLozier highlights three important points for club leaders to ramp up club operations and refine their game plan.

When asked what steps they are taking to prepare their business for the post-COVID-19 environment, many small- and medium-sized business owners and managers say they’re taking a “wait-and-see” approach. While that attitude is understandable, with conditions and health and safety guidelines changing by the day, it’s also not advisable.

The more effective strategy is the one that many other businesses are taking to navigate the crisis in creative and productive ways: Anticipating and preparing for a post-COVID-19 business, whenever that may come and whatever it might resemble.

In a wide range of businesses, preemptive leaders are driving revenue through new marketing tactics and sales channels, putting new incentives in place to spur immediate purchasing and capture pent-up demand, moving more of their in-person interactions online, pivoting their business to address new needs and developing new products to position their business when customer demand returns to normal.

Others are enhancing their digital presence by sprucing up their website with new content or fixing online issues for a better customer experience. And many businesses are strategizing by mapping out potential scenarios for the future.

Three important points to consider when ramping up club operations:

1. Update the club’s financial plan.

The business interruption and financial impacts will be profound and may even threaten the club’s existence. The board must reset the club’s financial plan by evaluating the current in-flow of dues revenue and the realistic projection of pending banquet and catering activity. Refer to the club’s historic reference points for revenue as the key component in ramping up successfully. Balance revenue projections with the probable attrition rate caused by members who will leave the club for health and financial reasons.

Look realistically at the club’s expenses and prepare yourself – they will be discouraging. Plan to restart programs and services in a phased manner that focuses on the most popular and engaging programs in the eyes of your members.

It’s important to remember that members may have different priorities in a post-recession world. Knowing what those are through surveys and focus groups is far more advisable than assuming the old normal is also the new normal. Keep in mind that the club may not be able to restart at a level and pace that meets members’ expectations without what may be significant investments.

In a financial sense, the club is starting over financially. This can be good for clubs overloaded with expensive debt since it gives them incentive to renegotiate their debt structure. Interest rates are at historic lows and will remain so for some time. This makes it a good time to restructure the club’s financial plan to remove historic flaws, such as membership-optional communities and outdated governance practices.

2. Strengthen your team.

Every club in your area is being affected differently by the pandemic. Some will retain staff with little change. Others will be forced to reduce operations, programs and staff. Some of your own employees will decide not to return or may be unavailable. Be prepared and recruit aggressively to fill and strengthen key positions on your team. It’s also a good time to review and update personnel records, roles and benefits.

3. Introduce new social programs.

As leaders hit the reset button, remember that private clubs enjoy an emotional relationship with their members far more than a transactional one. When evaluating and creating programs, consider the following:

Members will want to see one another and be seen. There will be a great opportunity for friends to be reunited and reminded that their club is a safe haven for their families and friends.

Look at events that are either successive – where one event sets the stage for the next – or part of a series of similar events. Give members the sense of ongoing relationships rather than one-off types of events.

Host member information exchanges. As members anticipate their clubs reopening, they will have lots of questions, which can be boiled down to “What’s changed – and what hasn’t?” Assemble a team of staff members who constitute the Answers Team.

Get ahead of questions by anticipating as many as you can and communicating the answers widely through email, newsletters and social media.

Creating a Reliable Game Plan

The most effective transitional leaders will be those who can manage information aggressively. Keep your stakeholder groups of members, employees, suppliers, and extended business partners – like bankers and insurance carriers – well-informed.

Your members and stakeholders want information, to be sure. Even more importantly, they want confidence that their club is in steady hands. They want to see evidence – action more so than talk – that the club is taking measured steps and addressing the key strategic issues without distraction with petty short-term matters. This capability requires a reliable game plan.

In May, GGA Partners conducted a series of weekly webinars to help club leaders construct their game plan and illustrate the thought processes that go into reopening and operating again in the wake of COVID-19. The sessions offered a deeper look into these three important points and tactics to prepare for a post-pandemic business environment.

The archive of each webinar and accompanying slide deck (if applicable) are available on CMAA University, complimentary to all CMAA members. Once you are signed in to CMAA University, you can find the recording and accompanying resources under CMAA Member Education, COVID-19 Resources. The content is then organized by topic area, see below for where each of the four webinars are housed:

Crisis Management and Communications

Changing Communications for Changing Times – Linda Dillenbeck & Bennett DeLozier – May 27, 2020

Member Surveys in Uncertain Times – Michael Gregory & Ben Hopkinson – May 20, 2020

Reopening Your Club

Transitional Leadership: Restarting Your Club – Henry DeLozier – May 6, 2020

Business Continuity

Future Trends in the Workforce – Patrick DeLozier – May 15, 2020

If you don’t know your login information, please contact CMAA through this online form.

 

This article also featured in Golf Course Industry magazine

Dangers of Depersonalizing the Member Experience

As new innovations continue to help streamline club operations, GGA Partner Henry DeLozier cautions against replacing staff with technology and removing what can be priceless interactions for members and guests alike.

Most clubs today are facing the dual challenges of rising labor costs along with ever-greater member expectations.

In our modern digital age, the obvious solution for many has been to systematize and automate services wherever possible across their operation.

But while this may be cost efficient, clubs must beware…the result is often the depersonalization of member services.

Remember, clubs share an emotional – not transactional – relationship with members. And both research and experience have shown us that the best member services are strictly personal.

For a club, to depersonalize is to chip away at the very foundation of your business.

Here are five tactics for personalizing services at your club:

1) Reserved or Reserved for…?

Recognize reserved tables with a reserved placard that displays the name of the member for whom the table is reserved. It’s a small touch which underscores that “we have been anticipating your arrival”. These little efforts add more to the member experience than you might think.

2) Monitor Club Communications for Engagement

Most clubs blindly issue email communications to members with little-or-no tracking to understand if the message was even received – let alone opened, read, or acted upon.

Follow up your club’s emails with calls to individual members who are not opening or engaging with club communications. Ask if the messages are being received (although your analytics will have revealed this already). This is a chance to learn what topics interest your members…and which topics don’t.

3) Personalize Your Club’s Communications

As suggested above, develop a personal communications profile for each member.
As with Facebook or LinkedIn, you can enable members to populate their own profiles (though some members who are not computer natives will need help with this).

This allows you to learn what topics interest each member, in what media they prefer to received messages, what days and times they want the messages to be delivered, and from whom at the club they wish to receive important information.

In essence, stop issuing “Dear Member” communications.

4) Meet with Members

Whether one-to-one or in small (fewer than four people at a time) member groups, meet to discuss the club and its various priorities. Ask members for their feedback, learn their priorities, and ensure that they know and understand the board’s strategic priorities too. This will make them feel included, valued and empowered.

5) Facilitate Member-to-Member Introductions

Most members are truly acquainted with very few of their fellow members, but clubs are more fun when people know more people.

There are several ways you can help this along, such as hosting multiple welcoming events for new members, enlisting your board, committees, and staff to become the “connectors” between members, and creating a digital (online) member directory to help members learn more about one another.

Using the member profiles described above, you can personalize the effort by connecting people with similar backgrounds – such as universities attended, hometowns, or places of employment.

Keep in mind that private clubs are a platform for socialization. An undeniable characteristic of successful clubs is the sense that “everyone knows one another”. Help your members get to know one another and, in so doing, make your club ever more relevant to the members.

Ultimately, the key is to treat your members as the valuable resource that they are. Keeping your services personalized will help them know that they are recognized, respected, and valued, and provide the strongest possible foundation for your club going forward.

Millennials and the Value Proposition at Your Facility

A First-Look at 2020 Millennial Golf Industry Research Findings

In ongoing research collaboration with Millennial golfer organization Nextgengolf, GGA recently updated its study of the habits, attitudes, and preferences of Millennial golfers.  The 2020 study brings forward survey findings from over 1,600 Millennial golfers and builds upon research conducted in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

A preview of this year’s research findings was unveiled in a presentation delivered at the 2020 PGA Merchandise Show by GGA Partner Henry DeLozier and Director, Nextgengolf Operations, Matt Weinberger.

Titled “Millennials and the Value Proposition at Your Facility”, the session introduced key insights and observations from the latest research and supplemented these findings using personal anecdotes shared by participating Millennial golfers.  The session explored what these findings mean for golf facilities and highlighted several tactics some facilities have implemented to enhance their value proposition to Millennial golfers.

Over the next few weeks, be on the lookout for a full, in-depth report of findings.

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Research Overview

In many clubs today, the long-held expectations and perceptions of existing, ageing members are at odds with the entirely different needs and expectations of a new wave of younger, more casual members.  The challenge for clubs?  To create an environment which not only appeals to the new wave, but where members of all types can coexist.

Research findings highlight how golf clubs can adapt and develop their offerings to meet the needs of the next generation of members and customers.  The goal is to provide valuable insights about Millennial golfers, the challenges they face, and the opportunities for clubs to help support the long-term sustainability of the game and the industry as a whole.

Background

As the leading entity for team-based golf in the United States, Nextgengolf connects Millennials to golf and supports the success of their game while GGA specializes in solution engineering and problem solving for golf-related businesses.  A fusion of GGA’s 28-year history of private club research and Nextgengolf’s connection to young golfers afforded the unique opportunity to study a highly valuable Millennial audience.

The survey sample focused exclusively on a sample audience of active, avid Millennial golfers with prior golf interest and experience in tournaments or golf events.  To date, more than 5,200 survey responses have been analyzed during the four-year research study.

Thank you to the Club Management Association of America (CMAA) for the support that makes this research possible.

Walking in the Customer’s Shoes

This article is written and produced by Sue Shapcott, PhD. Sue is the founder of Change Golf Instruction, a golf coaching business that partners with public golf courses, and Sports Query, a consulting business that assists sports organizations incorporate social science into their policies and practices. Sue is based in Madison, WI.


Club staff, including managers and coaching professionals can, over time, become immunized to the customer experience and the various touch points that form it. Guest writer, Sue Shapcott, reveals how clubs should take the time to understand this experience – and why it’s crucial when it comes to attracting women, minorities and families.

Without knowing it, club staff can be reinforcing an experience that is off-putting and unwelcoming to prospective members and (current) minority groups.

In a male-dominated sport such as golf, gender stereotypes play a significant role in shaping and affirming people’s views of a club – particularly women.

Think about it: walking in to see a large group of men congregated at the bar, being greeted with a wall of products for men in the golf shop, clubhouse walls adorned with pictures of men in quintessential golfing attire. All of these cues serve to induce stereotype threat. Stereotype threat, by definition, is the demotivation someone may feel when they identify with a negatively stereotyped social group. The traditional golf environment, unfortunately, is likely to induce stereotype threat in women, children and minorities because it underscores who is, and who isn’t a typical golfer.

As well as inducing stereotype threat, the golf club environment will also impact the sense of belonging women and minority groups experience in traditional golf clubs. Conforming to a club’s traditions means accepting this ecosystem which may feel unfair, unbalanced, and ‘just the way it is (and has always been)’.

But importantly for clubs seeking new members, these groups are making a choice based on their experience at that club. Is this somewhere they visualize spending time (with their family)? Do they want to spend time here? Does it have the potential to become a core part of their life or lifestyle?

If they feel forced to conform, and conforming means signing up to an experience that will not enhance their lifestyle, then, simply put, they will not.

Why does it matter?

Removing stereotype threat experienced by women and minority golfers can be a difficult challenge for many clubs out there. It can mean unpicking a culture which, understandably, takes time.

But allowing the cycle to continue will restrict growth and diversity in your current membership base, as well as your prospective target markets – especially at a time when we know younger generations value family time together. So much so they will base purchasing decisions on how these will enhance their collective lifestyle.

Where to start

Shifting the culture starts by seeing the world through the eyes of women and minority groups.

Accompany existing and prospective members on a customer walkthrough and all of a sudden, things will become more apparent. You’ll quickly see what and why things need to change. For example, does your leadership team look like the face of golf’s past, or future? Does the club have photos that celebrate both men and women players?

Unite all the club staff around this process. Educate them on the prevalence of stereotypes, and their effect. You can then arm staff with the knowledge they need to neutralize the environment. Tackling the issue in unison will ensure that staff are conscious and aware, and there are no gaps in the club’s approach.

What areas can you expect to confront and overcome stereotype threat typically experienced by women and minority golfers? Here are some areas which are common, yet often overlooked:

Marketing – if you market to the spouses of existing members what images and/or videos are you choosing to include? What is that telling them about the club? Chances are, you could be confirming stereotypes without realizing it. It’s not about provisioning certain types of images and videos ‘because it’s the right thing to do’. It’s about doing it because clubs need to understand their influence and not inadvertently confirm certain stereotypes – especially when it will harm their goals in the long run.

Coaching – coaches should make it clear to women that they have a high expectation of their ability and performance (dispelling the stereotype that women are somehow not as strong in their ability).

Clubhouse – a contemporary environment which suits the needs of all members is what clubs should strive for. Remove unnecessary imagery which serves to reaffirm certain stereotypes and make it a place where all profiles of member can enjoy, relax and spend time.

Golf Shop – being greeted by rows of hardware, mainly for men, can be a daunting experience – especially so for women new to the game. Make service your priority, and dispel any fears minority groups may have by handing them the knowledge they need to make informed purchasing decisions.

On the course – tees labelled by gender are extremely commonplace, yet are a constant reminder that women don’t hit the ball as far and that this somehow makes their ability inferior. By changing your tees to difficulty-based rather than gender-based creates more of a level playing field and removes the gender factor and associated stereotype threat.

A rallying call

Change at clubs is always difficult when there’s a threat of alienating a certain group – in this case the core membership. But this is where it’s important to take a step back and assess the fork in the road in which we find ourselves:

Road A: We do the same thing. Members age, member numbers recede, and the cycle of stereotype threat experienced by women and minorities continue.

Road B: We open up, we see our club differently, we remove stereotype threats and create an environment a more diverse range of prospects want to be a part of.

As a stakeholder in this industry, I know which future I would rather be a part of.

 

Connect with Sue Shapcott

The Family Opinion

Member surveys are not as clear cut as simply gauging satisfaction or opinion of members. GGA’s Andrew Milne explains how, by reaching out to include spouses or family in club surveys, you can gain invaluable insights on how your club is viewed in the context of modern family life.

Renewing a club membership used to be a straightforward matter. The member receives dues notification, pays a subscription, and club life continues. But as much as club managers may want that to be the case, increasingly, it simply is not.

The perfect storm of increased time, family and economic pressures for members means leisure outings are more heavily scrutinized and, occasionally, result in the end of membership and/or the club’s prominence in an individual’s day-to-day life.

Rather than having these decisions debated behind closed doors, with no prior knowledge that they even exist, clubs do have a vital tool at their disposal, in extending a bespoke member survey to spouses and family members.

Branching out

GGA spouse and family member surveys were introduced nearly a decade ago and what we have learned during that time unambiguously supports their role in helping club leaders develop a product and service that is relevant to the whole family.

Among the headline findings collated from across North America, we found:

  1. Clubs typically underestimate utilization by spouses and families. The introduction of spouse and family surveys helped clubs better understand utilization patterns in order to:
    • Realize greater operational efficiencies
    • Develop better informed events calendars
    • Target specific groups of spouses and families with relevant information
  1. Significant variances in capital project support. Spousal and family member support can vary up to +/- 15% when compared to primary member support. Combine this with their increased involvement in the membership purchase decision, and the importance of building a plan which appeals to all comes into sharp focus.
  2. Restrictions to access are a key concern. When contemplating any membership alterations which involve increased time and/or amenity restrictions, input from all member categories will help to arrive at more reasonable, rational and accepted changes and mitigate any negative impact to satisfaction levels.

A club for the entire family

Identifying the importance of both spouses and families is one thing, making changes to the club operation to increase their satisfaction levels (alongside those of primary members) is another.

Do the benefits outweigh the time and resource investment?

If it’s about an underlying connection, then yes. More interaction with spouses and family members will inevitably put the club more front-and-center in their minds, and help clarify its attributes and future role among these individuals.

There are more reasons to engage this audience too:

  • It improves buy-in for future decisions (as supported by survey findings). For example, if family members indicate their dissatisfaction with the current junior leagues at the club and provide insight on how they wish to see them improve, they are more likely to participate after the club implements an updated junior league program.
  • Spouses and family members will feel valued, and appreciate their opinions are being solicited, captured, and considered with care.
  • With the increasing influence of spouses and families on lifestyle and recreation choices, engaging them can help shape the future relevance and strategy for the club and drive overall membership sales.
  • A key challenge for clubs around the world is finding and engaging young prospects to grow the membership pipeline within the club. Collecting feedback from family members can identify the key drivers for this demographic and help position the club to best appeal to this group.

Moving out of the comfort zone

It may seem counter-intuitive to develop a future vision for your club formed from the views of those who may appear not to spend a great deal of time there.

However, across the world we are witnessing clubs making moves towards developing amenities and services which appeal to the entire family and encourage them to spend more time there. These are the clubs already profiting from family and spousal survey insights, building out the core of their membership to now include spouses and family members, and simultaneously becoming a more appealing destination to prospects.

Taking the first steps are difficult, but by seeking a wider base of opinions you might be surprised by what you learn and the future opportunities that arise.

How to Develop an Enviable (and Profitable) Events Calendar

A thriving events calendar, if delivered well, can propel member satisfaction and loyalty to new levels. But first you need to understand what works, and how to measure event success. We enlisted the help of GGA’s Patrick DeLozier, who has over 14 years’ experience delivering events at some of the top clubs in the country, to explain what clubs need to know.

A thriving events calendar has been a staple at the top clubs I have been fortunate to manage in recent years. Are they hard work? Yes, absolutely. Are they worth it? Without a doubt.

I have witnessed first-hand how events create memorable and meaningful moments in people’s lives, strengthening the bonds they have with a club and enriching relationships with other members.

While a number of events you deliver may not quite achieve this ‘magic’, there is a formula and steps you can take to deliver a compelling events calendar.

Keeping it fresh

The key to delivering outstanding club events lies in not standing still. Inject some creativity and fresh ideas into each and every event. This does not mean needing to stage new events every year, but adding new twists or new dimensions to established, traditional ones.

Sometimes this could be as simple as hosting an event in a different area of your property. Not only does this create a different ambience, it also serves to introduce members to parts of the property they may not normally see, or facilities they may not typically utilize. This is something we would routinely do at Augusta National to great success and satisfaction amongst members.

Timing it right

Simply put, one of the critical things to get right is timing. It can be easy to overlook, but so fundamentally important. Clubs of a certain size will need to communicate with other departments to avoid internal date conflict with other events, but all managers should also be attuned to events happening elsewhere either in the community or beyond.

Sports events, school events or charity fundraising events may all impact your club’s event calendar, so don’t fall into the trap of choosing the wrong date and marketing the event before needing to change. The same can be true of major sporting events such as the Super Bowl or The Ryder Cup. Set dates carefully, then market them with confidence and assurance.

Understanding what works

Fundamentally, you want members to engage with and enjoy the events your club chooses to stage. And when it comes to measuring success, their satisfaction should feature prominently. But events need to be well attended for them to be viable, both from a satisfaction standpoint for members and commercial standpoint for the club.

At the point of conception or planning, it will help to determine what constitutes reasonable participation numbers for particular events. This will provide a sound barometer of success not only for the current year, but future years too. If the popularity of certain events begins to grow, you can begin to unpick the reasons why and use the insights to fuel ideas for new ones.

When it gets to the events themselves, attend. Especially If you are relatively new to the club; it will give you the opportunity to engage with members and see for yourself how the events are received. Although we want to put a measure next to all aspects of an event, sometimes you have to accept some events carry a special aura – which you can only experience by being there.

Beyond the event, there can be a tendency to focus on what’s next, but don’t miss out on the crucial feedback and insights. There should always be a team debrief for those involved in the event delivery. Typically, we would spend 10% of the time on what went well and 90% of the time on how we could improve, with all staff and committee members challenged to come up with new ideas covering all aspects of event delivery.

Externally, send a feedback form to event attendees (do this quickly, so that you collate as many insights from the most members possible while the event is still fresh in their memory). This will enable you to identify areas for future improvement and pick up on any negative feedback (where appropriate).

Bringing it all together

By implementing this defined approach to event delivery, from planning through to evaluation, you will establish a culture of measuring success, defining continuous improvement, and translating this through to the events you choose to stage.

Combine this with a sprinkling of creative flair and you should have the basis for a calendar of thriving, well-attended events.

It may take some time to get there, but the impact on member satisfaction and the bottom line will be more than worth waiting for.

Inspiring Member Introductions

New members can be difficult to come by, especially during times of economic turbulence. But your existing core membership can hold the key to unlocking a wave of new members. GGA’s Michael Gregory explains how.

Why are your current members a valuable avenue for new members?

Members who have developed an emotional connection with your club will be proud to show it off to friends and peers. Friends and peers who will typically be of a similar income bracket, age and family profile.

Since the club’s membership proposition already appeals to those existing members, its relevance to their friends and peers is naturally much higher than it would be for a typical prospect.

Add in our findings; surveys of over 50,000 private club members each year reveal that ‘friends and family who are members’ is consistently one of the top three factors in the decision to join. For millennials, it’s even more important. All of a sudden, the importance of existing members comes into focus.

But what is it that gets these prospects over the line?

Ordinarily, a club employee will be the one selling the benefits of membership to prospects. In this case, however, its existing members. They’ll be your best advocates, your best sales men and women. They can express what it means to be a member, told through the eyes of the members themselves. A compelling and convincing message, and an effective mechanism to generate new members.

Should there be an official referral scheme in place to incentivize current members?

Before developing a formal or informal scheme you should scrutinize the current numbers. How many member referral leads do you generate? In our experience, over half of member leads usually come from referrals. If your number is far lower, you first need to ask why.

A member satisfaction survey can provide the answers. If satisfaction is low in areas central to your club’s value proposition, then existing members will not be as forthcoming in promoting the club to their friends and peers.

After your survey, isolate the areas in need of improvement and build these into your strategic plan. With the root causes of dissatisfaction being addressed, the club will organically become somewhere that members have a stronger connection with, and in turn a place they are more likely to recommend to potential new members.

It’s true that a catalyst may still be required to supplement this process and to help overturn a culture of non-referral. But a word of caution on this: a referral scheme should not be rolled out as a short-term solution to get more members. It could come across as desperate, distorting the value perception of membership at your club, and you could give too much away if not carefully developed.

We have found that recognition can be just as motivating as monetary incentives. So, before opting for the financial route, give some recognition to those who have referred members in a given month or year (which could be as simple as acknowledging the individuals in the club newsletter), then see if this spurs on more to act.

Is there something else club managers should be doing to ‘activate’ their members?

A lack of satisfaction can be one cause of low member referral numbers, but it might be as simple as not having created the opportunities for referrals to happen.

The good news is there are some simple and effective tactics you can roll out to create a fertile referral environment:

Golf days – the most obvious but often overlooked. Open days, invitation days and corporate days are a great way for prospects to experience what the club has to offer and provide the opportunity to spend some quality time on the course with other members.

Social events – allow members to invite guests along to select social events. It will introduce them to the club environment, they’ll get to meet other members and begin to feel what it’s like to be part of the membership community.

Crucially, welcome families along to these events too. We know how important spouses can be in the decision to join a club, so they need to get a first-hand look at how membership could enrich their life.

Discovery days – host a discovery day for existing members to bring along selected guests. Put together a dedicated itinerary where prospects can experience what it’s like to be a member, and give them the opportunity to join at the end of it.

Membership toolkit – arm your members with a “membership tool kit”. This can provide them with clear guidance on what to do should any of their friends or relatives want to visit or even join the club.

Is it all a numbers game?

The thing to remember is, a typical club’s attrition rate stands at around 20-35 members. With conversion rates between 8-12%, that means a club will need at least 200 prospects on any given year just to replace what they lose.

So the numbers are important. Your current members should be your most important pipeline for new members, and if less than half of your prospects come from your existing members, it’s time to pay attention and act. Your future depends on it.

What Works on Social?

The most popular channel may change over time, but the social media momentum continues to grow. For some clubs it can be difficult to know what to post, when and how often. We asked GGA’s Linda Dillenbeck to spell out all things social.

There is not a day that passes that doesn’t have a news report about something posted on a social media channel. Nor does a day pass when you don’t see consumers glued to their devices and feverishly typing the latest content they simply must share.

Whether we like it or not, social media has changed the way consumers communicate and gather information. Today, brands must have a social media presence or they miss the opportunity to reach 78% of the U.S. population who rely on these platforms to connect, gather information and socialize.

Consider these facts from Statistica and the Pew Research Center:

  • 68% of U.S. adults report they are Facebook users. Roughly three-quarters of those users access Facebook daily.
  • Facebook use is relatively common across a range of age groups, with 68% of those in the 50 to 64 age range and nearly half of those 65 and older report they use the site.
  • Over 70% of Instagram users are between the ages of 25-65. The share of users 35-54, a key target for future club prospects, is 30.2%.
  • Twitter has 67,000,000 users in the U.S. Of that number, 46% access the site daily.
  • LinkedIn has approximately 154,000,000 users in the United States, around half of whom are college graduates living in high-income households.
  • Women are nearly three times as likely as men to use Pinterest (42% vs. 15%).

Despite the reach of social media, we often hear the reason clubs are not active on most of these platforms is because they don’t have enough time. Our first recommendation is always this: Find the time.

Your members and prospects are engaging with these platforms on a daily basis, and what they read, see and hear there plays a part in their decision-making. Without any Club presence, you forego this opportunity to engage with their lives and influence them.

Furthermore, a lack of presence can leave you at a competitive disadvantage. In the cases of Instagram and Facebook, these social media platforms will create “unofficial pages” displaying user photos and comments about their experiences. This hands consumers control of your brand message, allowing them to dictate the tone of conversation and could lead to a misrepresentation of your Club in this space.

Channel choice

To select the social sites most appropriate for your Club it helps to understand each platform’s purpose as well as consumer expectations for the type of content they seek.

Facebook users want to be entertained, educated, informed and obtain answers to questions in real time. On Facebook, your posts can be longer and include website links. You can also create events (open or closed) to promote to your members, prospects and wider stakeholders.

Instagram is a platform to share your story through photos and video. When users log onto Instagram, they want to be inspired and surprised by what they see at your Club.

The primary purpose of Twitter is to allow people to share thoughts, opinions, news and events with a large audience. Tweets that generate the most engagement are “how-to” lists, questions and quotes.

Remember, both the nature of the platform and demographic of the users there will dictate that not all are appropriate or impactful for your Club. So be selective, and double up your efforts on which are most fruitful rather than spreading yourself thinly across too many of them.

Crafting your message

The thought of creating content for social sites can be intimidating at first, however, we believe there is plenty of information to share. A few examples include:

  • An individual post of each golf hole with a short description of how to play the hole (that’s 18 or 36 posts).
  • Photos or short videos of your chef preparing signature menu items.
  • Unique and interesting design features found in your clubhouse.
  • Member events and activities. A word of caution here, never post a photo of a member unless they provide permission when the photo is taken.
  • Short golf, swimming or tennis videos offering tips from the professionals on staff.
  • Announcements of staff hires, renovations, special events, etc.
  • Flora and fauna found around the grounds of your Club.

Once you begin posting your content, it is important to monitor the statistics for likes, shares and comments. This information will help you to understand the type of posts generating the most engagement. Once you are equipped with that information, you can focus on how to generate more of the same.

Social media marketing does require time and effort. But once you establish a habit of a monthly or weekly content plan and roll this out you can manage your time investment efficiently, and focus your efforts on establishing a two-way conversation and social identity for your Club. One that, crucially, is consistent with its brand and ethos.

Inspiration

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

 

This article was authored by GGA Manager and Marketing expert Linda Dillenbeck.

2019 Millennial Golf Industry Survey Findings – Part 8

In ongoing research collaboration with Millennial golfer organization Nextgengolf, GGA recently updated its study of the habits, attitudes, and preferences of Millennial golfers.  The 2019 study brings forward survey findings from over 1,400 Millennial golfers and builds upon research conducted in 2017 and 2018.

This is the eighth and final installment of a multi-part series of infographics to feature the latest Millennial golfer feedback. Part 8, below, examines public course golf and the key habits, attributes, and fee tolerances of Millennials who play most of their golf at public facilities. Also included are observations about how this group decides which courses to play, how much they expect to play in the future, and key differences between this group of Millennials and those who play most of their golf at private facilities.

See previous individual installments here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, or view all eight parts here.

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Research Overview

In many clubs today, the long-held expectations and perceptions of existing, ageing members are at odds with the entirely different needs and expectations of a new wave of younger, more casual members.  The challenge for clubs?  To create an environment which not only appeals to the new wave, but where members of all types can coexist.

Research findings highlight how golf clubs can adapt and develop their offerings to meet the needs of the next generation of members and customers.  The goal is to provide valuable insights about Millennial golfers, the challenges they face, and the opportunities for clubs to help support the long-term sustainability of the game and the industry as a whole.

Background

As the leading entity for team-based golf in the United States, Nextgengolf connects Millennials to golf and supports the success of their game while GGA specializes in solution engineering and problem solving for golf-related businesses.  A fusion of GGA’s 27-year history of private club research and Nextgengolf’s connection to young golfers afforded the unique opportunity to study a highly valuable Millennial audience.

The survey sample focused exclusively on a sample audience of active, avid Millennial golfers with prior golf interest and experience in tournaments or golf events.  To date, more than 3,600 survey responses have been analyzed during the three-year research study.

Thank you to the Club Management Association of America (CMAA) for the support that makes this research possible.

2019 Millennial Golf Industry Survey Findings – Part 7

In ongoing research collaboration with Millennial golfer organization Nextgengolf, GGA recently updated its study of the habits, attitudes, and preferences of Millennial golfers.  The 2019 study brings forward survey findings from over 1,400 Millennial golfers and builds upon research conducted in 2017 and 2018.

This is the seventh installment of a multi-part series of infographics to feature the latest Millennial golfer feedback. Part 7, below, explores the importance of non-golf amenities and social components Millennials look for in club offerings. Also included are observations about how their outlook is evolving over time and several takeaways on how the golf industry is responding to Millennial interests.

See previous installments here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and look for the final installment of this series to be released shortly.

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Research Overview

In many clubs today, the long-held expectations and perceptions of existing, ageing members are at odds with the entirely different needs and expectations of a new wave of younger, more casual members.  The challenge for clubs?  To create an environment which not only appeals to the new wave, but where members of all types can coexist.

Research findings highlight how golf clubs can adapt and develop their offerings to meet the needs of the next generation of members and customers.  The goal is to provide valuable insights about Millennial golfers, the challenges they face, and the opportunities for clubs to help support the long-term sustainability of the game and the industry as a whole.

Background

As the leading entity for team-based golf in the United States, Nextgengolf connects Millennials to golf and supports the success of their game while GGA specializes in solution engineering and problem solving for golf-related businesses.  A fusion of GGA’s 27-year history of private club research and Nextgengolf’s connection to young golfers afforded the unique opportunity to study a highly valuable Millennial audience.

The survey sample focused exclusively on a sample audience of active, avid Millennial golfers with prior golf interest and experience in tournaments or golf events.  To date, more than 3,600 survey responses have been analyzed during the three-year research study.

Thank you to the Club Management Association of America (CMAA) for the support that makes this research possible.

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