Impressing the members of your golf club is a growing challenge in the golf world and is sure to be a hot topic for 2020 and beyond. Creating the best member experience is key for you to not only retain membership levels but indeed, grow it throughout differing demographics.
At Shadowspec, we've been working with a range of golf clubs, world over, to improve their outdoor spaces and we've built up some useful insights that you can take to your committee with a line to improve the facility with an emphasis on data-driven decisions.
We're all competing for a slice of the worlds ever shrinking attention span and spare time. Long forgotten are the weeks for 3 x 18 hole outings and the challenge for clubs is to find other ways to generate income, hold the attention of members and encourage member growth by providing an establishment where members are comfortable and at home.
A common theory for the wider hospitality industry is "Dwell Time". This is a measurement of how long people spend at your establishment "dwelling" with their friends and family. The longer the "Dwell Time", the more they will order extra food and/or beverages from your bar.
We can extrapolate this concept into the clubhouse by providing exceptional service and innovative bar and restaurant facilities. We know golf clubs have a spectrum of visitors and members who all have different reasons for visiting and golfing. Fee-paying-members require a different setting to casual-green-fee players and casual guests-of-members.
We're no experts in improving your driving distance or short game, but we can delve into the 3 key innovations and concepts we often recommend to golf clubs.
1. Comfortable seating in & around the Clubhouse.
The most important factor in keeping members engaged in the holistic ecosystem of your club & course is ensuring the comfort of your members. Golf clubs everywhere are designed to be a calm, quiet retreat and your seating should reflect this. From comfortable seating around the course, to soft cushioned sofas in your member's area, there is a quick easy solution to improving comfort.
Ensure you have got fit for purpose bench seating scattered throughout your course. Every second tee is a terrific starting point. Make sure the seats you choose blend into your setting and are of high quality. We also recommend taking shade into consideration for on-the-course-seating. Whether it's under an established tree or an installed shade solution such as a cantilever outdoor umbrella, looking after your members is important. How much seating? We recommend at least a bench seat every second tee mixed with seating at some of the amazing vantage points your course has to offer.
We know the reality is that the majority of your members will be traversing the course in carts but, it is still nice to cater for the fit individuals who are walking that picturesque setting with their clubs in tow.
Club members will assume a certain status and privilege with their membership. It is an understanding that this facility will come with the utmost comfort for the all-important post-game debrief in the clubhouse. Combining comfortable sofas and ample space to maximise member satisfaction is a great starting point. You'll need to find an equilibrium between the amount of seats and the space between them. More seats equates to more income but it comes at the expense of having less room in the lounge, creating a claustrophobic experience that members may choose to forgo. A full, cramped space isn't premium or exclusive.
The starting point for optimising your seating is to use data to determine how your space is used and how best to optimise that.
For example, what is the daily spend per-member during any given weekend, based on the number of people in the member's lounge and how much they ring through your point-of-sale terminal?
Use this to decide if more or less is best. Will people stay longer, increasing the spend per person if there's more comfort and quiet, or is it better to pack more people in and hedge your bets on volume for your turnover?
We don't have the right answer here, we can implore you to make your decision based on the data you collect to find the most optimal way forward.
On a warm day, you'll notice a distinct exodus from the indoor area during lunch and dinner service. Guests always prefer the novelty of sitting outside to eat and you should take full advantage of that. Create an innovative space that people can enjoy all day long by providing quality outdoor furniture that can put up with the weather and also the rigorous use of high-traffic areas.
Shade and protection are important to outdoor seating areas. Look after your members and their guests with premium outdoor umbrellas such as our flagship: Shadowspec Unity™ Multi-Canopy Cantilever Umbrella. UV protection from the sun, water-resistant and easy to use for your floor staff. It is the premier hospitality product to help elevate your outdoor dining area.
Similar to your indoor areas, you can use data to determine the best way to arrange the seating and be flexible enough to change the layout as the seasons change. We can look up information online about where the sun will be during peak seasons, where and when the sun sets and how hot it's likely to be - use this data to make a decision about where and when you place your shade and seating.
Our favourite idea for creating new dining spaces, to increase table volume, is creating a unique experience with cafe-style dining near the practice green or driving range. Remember every extra table and zone is a potential earner for both revenue and status.
2. Refurbishment time
Is it time for a refurbishment at the club? How do you know if it's time? Data is the cornerstone of decision making across all industries and it's time to embrace it. Start tracking data about how your members use your club, the course and the facilities.
With this information you can take a scientific approach to refurbishment. Choosing the right time of the year to undergo works is make or break. We recommend analysing the data once you have compiled it. Usage data from your grounds will help you match up with weather trends and holiday weekends to determine the best downtime for work to commence. The obvious choice is when fewer rounds of golf are taken by members and guests. Perhaps a better choice could be when fewer members are in the clubhouse itself as opposed to out on the course.
You may find that, for example, some autumn months playtime is standard but occupancy in the bar is lower than usual so this could be the most optimal time to section off a part of the club that is overdue for attention.
3. Stay ahead of the game
We have gone over how technology is changing decision processes for the better. We know it is a challenge to bring technology into golf. Our sport is founded in tradition, process and etiquette. Modernisation, technology and innovation are stretching the foundation of golf (as it always has) and it's important to be careful with each step we take to retain the essence of golf.
There's plenty of conversations from the games brass around the distance balls are flying, the issue, or lack thereof, is compounded by club enhancements and ball technology. Regardless of your opinion, or that of your members, the reality is the game we love is driving forward the technological assistance that we need to be aware of.
We suggest always keeping up to date with the latest trends in the game as well as other hospitality and recreational activities that can pull people away from the clubhouse.
Embrace the change & remember the foundations
Everything in golf is moving forward like a Pro V1 coming off a Mavrik thanks to data and AI design. It's time to take stock of how you can implement data to create a traditional, exceptional experience for your members. No matter the goals of your club, it's important to track who, how and when people are using your facilities to improve your club.
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