A few months ago, we released an ebook about one of the big buzzwords in the industry: occupancy. Now, we're focusing on another trending issue, guest experience, in our brand-new guide "Customer Experience."
You’ve heard what just a few improvements to guest experiences can do for a course that really puts some effort into it.
This course doubled their profits in a year, turned angry customers into raving fans, or raised pro shop sales by 100%, just from making a few changes to how they interact with their customers.
But how much effort is enough effort? Can anybody really change their business by treating people better? How much money do you need to invest in order to really improve experiences enough to make a difference?
The answer is that there are many tactics and processes that you can implement to ensure your guests have a 5-star experience. When you’re looking at everything, it looks overwhelming. The trick is finding your biggest opportunities and maximizing on them. The trick for finding those opportunities is where this book comes in.
In the next few posts on our blog, we will take you through four immediate things you can implement at your course to take your customers’ experience to the next level, and increase your club’s profitability in the meantime. These ideas and suggestions are the result of research by marketing and customer experience experts, with the goal of driving immediate results while also helping you really identify the biggest opportunities for change at your course.
Six Simple Changes to Create the Ultimate Player Experience
Many course owners and operators focus on creating the best course possible, with interesting layouts, unexpected challenges, and beautiful landscaping.
But the experience at the golf course begins before the player steps on the greens; it begins with the first interaction they have with the course, whether that be on the phone or on the web, and it ends when they pull out of the parking lot.
There’s a lot that happens between those two events, but for the sake of brevity, we’ll focus on two aspects: what happens before they start, and what happens while they’re waiting.
Before They Begin
There’s a lot of conventional wisdom about customer experience, gathered over the thousands of years we humans have been interacting with one another. That conventional wisdom is as true today as it was one hundred years ago, making it a great place to begin.
Research shows that there is a strong correlation between your body language (as a service provider) and the reaction of your guest—especially with such simple things as smiling.
Want your customer to have a favorable initial impression? Smile.
#2: Engage (Before They Arrive)
You don’t have to wait until players step onto the course or into clubhouse to begin your interaction with them. Rather, you should be sending simple emails and texts to engage with your customers.
Don’t think you or your guests are tech-savvy enough? Technology certainly helps in the engagement arena, and though the golf industry has been slower to adapt to the trends, studies show that every age group is using their phones to communicate with family, friends, and—yes—even businesses.
Start simple, by sending a reminder email about their booking. Alert them to pro shop sales or tee time deals, or give them tips for how the greens are playing that day. This gives your players the feeling that you remembered them and are trying to give them the best experience possible.
#3: Greet Guests by Name
We humans like to be acknowledged, and there’s nothing quite as powerful as saying someone’s name. If you can figure out who’s walking in the clubhouse, it’s extremely advantageous to say their name within the first 10 seconds of greeting them.
This will give your guests a sense of familiarity, and—especially if they’re repeat customers—of community & belonging. This, in turn, means that your guests will want to come back again and again to the place where their name is known and valued.
They’ll also be more likely to bring along their friends. After all, what golfer doesn’t want their social circles to see that their local golf course knows them by name?!
While They're Waiting
#1: Provide Free Public Wi-Fi
People expect unlimited internet access wherever they go, and that is especially true of millennials. Providing WiFi may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it can make the difference between a good experience and a boring one while they’re waiting around for friends—especially if you’re hoping to drive more occupancy among these age brackets.
#2: Refreshments are Refreshing
Even though it doesn’t cost much in effort or money, putting out a small spread of food can make a big difference in players’ perception of a course.
Players of every caliber see “Complimentary Refreshments” as a small item of luxury, and it helps whittle down the minutes while they’re waiting for friends. Consider simple things like granola, crackers, cheese, or fruits.
#3: Consider Charging Stations
More and more people are spending incredible amounts of time on their phones. All that phone time means that people often run out of juice while on the go.
Providing a charging station gives players something to do until their friends show up. If you can afford a charging station with lockers, they can leave their phone in the clubhouse, speeding up rounds outside.
Although smiling does take more muscles than frowning, these six steps require little effort and not much money. But imagine the experience from the player’s perspective!
Picture it… The first player in a group arrives to see a smiling host who calls them by their name, and who has contacted them before they stepped through the doors. Those three factors mean the player immediately feels welcomed and wanted, and their sense of anticipation builds.
Their friends haven’t arrived yet, so player #1 grabs a handful of granola, connects to the WiFi, and plugs in their phone. When the rest of the group shows up, they all leave their phones in the locker and play a quick nine holes before it gets dark.
Creating a great customer experience can start with the simple things that create more personalized interactions. You already have the tools you need to make their time at your facility memorable.
More valuable guest interactions, less wasted waiting time.