Starting this month, we are replacing one of our Weekly App Tip's each month to share with you a Featured Course App and that course's operator to highlight what has been working for them. In our first month ever, we have Gary Nedergard from Northlands Golf Course, a municipal course in Vancouver, BC.
- Published the app in March 2012
- To date, 9,567 downloads
- Approximately one-third of all rounds played are booked through their app
- From inception of the app, $2.75 million in green fees booked through the app at an average rate of $56 per round
- Average of about 48,000 rounds per year played at the course
Gary Nedergard, Northlands Golf Course
The success Northlands has had with the app can be directly attributed to their team, and their leader Gary Nedergard. Their recognition of the capabilities to drive revenue they have with the tools of the app has driven this. Upon launching the app they immediately had their entire team embrace the app, and from there getting their customers to do the same became easy. Just like any investment a club makes in its future, Northlands has treated the app as a key piece of its long term success.
I sat down and had a great conversation with Gary recently about the role of their app for Northlands. Further below you can listen to our conversation, but here it is in text for you:
Rob @ Gallus Golf: "Tell me a little about your experience with the app, how customers have embraced it, and what role it plays day to day for Northlands."
Gary @ Northlands: "We embraced it right off the bat, as soon as we got wind there was an app available that people can book tee times right on their phone, we jumped all over the opportunity. We like to think of ourselves as being on the forefront of trying new technology and trying to do things differently from what other golf courses are doing, and as soon as we saw the app and how well it worked with our booking engine, we immediately saw opportunity. It's so hard today to communicate with your core golfers, and as a municipal, public golf course with no membership base, and when people tend not to read emails as much any more, and print advertising is just not effective enough, so we immediately thought when we saw the app, 'you know what, let's give it a try.'
We knew it was going to be successful, but our customer base here embraced it right off the bat. We had our staff, along with the promotional materials from Gallus, begin talking about the app right away. We would show our customers 'it's so simple and it's free, just download it right to your phone.' We put the QR codes everywhere, our starter was telling people to download it for the GPS, and right from day one it has been just outstanding."
Rob @ Gallus Golf: "Do you think that's been a key for you then, getting your staff to 'buy-in' and make sure you're increasing customer awareness of the app?"
Gary @ Northlands: "Exactly it has. To this day, I think we are in year 4 with the app, even though our power carts have GPS screens on them, which are pretty slick, we still promote the app to everyone to download. We are about a 60% ratio of riding to walking course. We are constantly letting people know, this is not just for GPS, this is for specials, access to last minute discounts, traffic notifications, again, just communicating with our golfers in general, we let them know the app is the best way for all of that.
It is not intrusive, it's not an email with people not opening them as much any more, considering them pretty much junk mail. So our staff to this day, even with a good core, loyal base here, we are still getting faces we have never seen before each day. I hear our staff saying all of the time, 'oh, by the way, if you don't have our mobile app and you plan to play here, it takes just a few seconds to download', and they do it right there at the counter.
So, the staff does have to buy in, but I know I have been talking over the years with other operators interested in the Gallus app, and one of the first questions they ask me is, 'how did you get your staff to buy in?' I would reply, 'There really is no buy-in. That's part of their job, telling people about this great tool we have.' So at every access point, the counter, the starter, the marshall, on our website, just so many avenues, you have opportunities to drive it home to the customer to get the app."
Rob @ Gallus Golf: "Tell me, Northlands, typical calendar year, how many rounds of golf?"
Gary @ Northlands: "We budget for 48,000. Our high mark was 52,000 back before the crash, or before Tiger crashed his vehicle into a tree! With weather being such a factor, we have averaged about 46,000 over the last 5 years."
Rob @ Gallus Golf: "So it looks like based on the numbers I know, about one-third of your rounds are being booked through the app then?"
Gary @ Northlands: "That's right. I would say about 80-85% of all rounds booked are done online or through the app. We do still take phone calls, but our online booking rate has been that high. Even before the app we may have been a bit high compared to other courses, but since we got the app up and running, BOOM, it took off big time, and this just proves that simple technology works. Once you put your information it, it is a quick three step booking process, and that is with a booking engine we consider 'clunky' as it is right now, although we are looking to change it."
Here is a screenshot of the push notifications and the dates they have sent them over the last two months (click on it for a larger view):
PLAY THE VIDEO BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW WITH GARY IN ITS ENTIRETY