golf club app

Golf Operator Spotlight - Ryan K. From Westminster National Golf Course

It’s always great to get to have a conversation with our course operator partners, and recently I was able to sit down and talk shop with Ryan Kraushofer, GM at Westminster National Golf Club in Maryland.  Ryan and Westminster have been with us since April of 2015, and I started with Gallus in March of 2015, so he is one of the first new partners I had the privilege of working with, and some of the things Ryan has done with the app have been very outside the box creative.

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Here’s our conversation in a nutshell:

 

Rob:  Talk to me about your career in golf. What got you started and what is your favorite part of the industry?  And why are you good at it? How did you get started?

Ryan:  I got started in golf when I about was 12 years old.  I would go to the golf course with my parents and hang out with them in the evenings and ride around the course. My dad started working in the Pro Shop and snack shack area, I would hang out with him. Then my parents would play golf and I would hang back in the clubhouse. I would do things around the club, like take out the trash, do some other odd jobs around the course and make $20-30 bucks, and I thought “this is kinda a cool gig”. Luckily my middle school was right around the corner and during my time in middle school and high school in the evenings I would go to the nearby course to help out with landscape and just work as much as I could.

 

Ryan is well respected for his agronomic skills and has been called upon by the USGA to help set up US Open Courses as recently as 2015 at Chambers Bay.  He’s pretty humble about it, but I am fairly certain in Opens since he would have been there as well had it not been for little things, like getting married!

 

Rob:  Having been in golf then your entire adult life and more, what do you see as the biggest challenge golf as an industry has experienced in the last 5 years?

Ryan:  I think the biggest challenge is simple,  getting golfers out to play, growing the game through younger golfers and women, and keeping them coming back. For me, that is the biggest challenge.

 

Rob:  Do you feel we have turned a corner and succeeded, or will that continue to be a major challenge for courses and the game as a whole?

Ryan:  I think so. I think initiatives like what Topgolf is doing will continue to help. In my experience, they are reaching a point that they are getting people interested in going out to the golf course. I have heard some people that say Topgolf hurts the industry but I don't believe that. I think they are doing great things, and I think as a professional in this industry you're always going to have to do something to get new people involved.  It’s not just the growth of our games, but sustaining our careers.

 

Rob: I think that is the case with any business.  If you're not looking to grow your customer base you're probably planning to fail.  

Let’s talk about technology and your mobile app - what impact do you think they have made on your course and your business?

Ryan:  Technology is changing all the time. From agronomics to golf balls, to GPS, to golf balls with GPS!  And smartphones - people are always on the phone on the golf course and instead of looking for ways to end that, we should look for ways to capitalize on it because we are not going to separate people from their phones. We have found they're looking for ways to keep score when playing, whether it's with our app or another technology,  golfers are using it in their games.

There is nothing wrong with technology. It is a change and change is often tough, but people will adapt and change and if your business doesn’t adapt along with them, people will pass you by.  As I mentioned in your first question, Rob, the challenge in our industry is getting people to golf, so accommodating their lifestyles and giving them something to enjoy in that mix is an important part of answering that challenge.

 

Rob:  You have done some pretty unique things with your app, for example selling sponsorships in the tournament Portion of the app to help fund your investment.  I remember you did the same thing with the tournament software registration, where you were selling hole sponsorships through a player registration page you altered to make work this way for you.

Can you talk about some of the ideas you have had and things you're doing to get outside of the box and separate yourself from what others are doing?

Ryan:  It's always tough thinking of different ideas. We will often run a Skins competition through the app.  It’s a quick and easy way to get people engaged, downloading, and using the app because it is something they understand and have been doing for years anyway. Skins competitions are the biggest thing we do in the way of getting people to download.

As far as selling the hole sponsorships I try to do that every year. It's a nice way to offer businesses a new way to reach people, more than just a sign in the ground. It may only be $200, but when you carry that out over a handful of businesses and a number of tournaments, it’s an easy way to cover the investment of our app each year.

The Loyalty programs you have built for us are working very well too.  We are punching loyalty cards every day. So those golfers are using the app every day and they are seeing the hole sponsorships, playing in the Skins games, keeping and posting scores - each way contributes to us being connected to our customers and is worth the effort to separate ourselves in a challenging business like golf.

 

Rob:  Let’s talk briefly about a challenge I hear way too often - the older demographic.  A lot of courses, ones I am afraid are going to be closing shop in the next 10 years or so without an adjustment, tell us that the bulk of their clients are much older and just won’t download and use the app.  What’s your take on this?

Ryan:  You know when we first launched the app, I agree, the older guys weren’t using it as much as the younger guys. But with the development of the loyalty program in the app, we offered free golf after 10 rounds of golf, and the older guys end up wanting the rewards so they end up downloading the app. I would say my senior group has downloaded it just to get the rewards and I think enticing them with the rewards has pushed me over the edge to using all of the other features.

 

Rob:  Any other predictions on technology in the golf industry in the next few years? Whether it's app, payments, upgrades to POS with the course?

Ryan:  You tell me haha!

NOW FROM GALLUS -- Included in Your Apps....Loyalty/Rewards !!!

Reach out to help get this set up in your apps now!

 

rob@gallusgolf.com or 858.437.9262

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Driving Engagement with In-App Contests

Any of you who have been following me know, user engagement is a hot topic with me.  I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about ways to increase your users' activity with your apps.  This week I am sharing one of those middle of the night ideas.  Please let me know if you need any help setting this up in your app.

 

THE CONCEPT:   My example is a Trivia game, but you could do this, or a Scavenger Hunt, or really any kind of game that requires a response from your users.

 

 

THE PATH:  First, build a Google Form for Each question/clue you want to put forth.

 

 

(Click on any of the images below to get a larger view)

 

                        Next, connect that form to your app with a Custom Button:

 

Next, Send a Push Notification announcing your contest and deep linking to the button in your app connected to the question/clue form:

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Finally, Review your responses and notify your winners!

 

 

HERE is what your golfers will see in their apps:

 

 

What's to gain by doing this?

  • Increased engagement and excitement about your app overall
  • With increased engagement, when you send other push notifications, your users are now paying closer attention
  • Users that are tuning into you more than they are your competitors,which means more rounds, happier customers, and higher revenues
  • FUN---you gain some fun!

 

WE WANT TO HELP YOU SET THIS UP IN YOUR APP, SO PLEASE REACH OUT FOR HELP IN GETTING THIS DONE WITH YOUR CONTEST IDEAS.  858.437.9262 or rob@gallusgolf.com

 

 

A Report Card, and Continuing to Improve

Sometimes to move forward it is important to take a moment to reflect on where we have been and the trends we have been following.  One of the biggest Key Performance Indicators that I keep pointing to is user engagement.  When I refer to user engagement, I am talking about how much time and how active the people who have downloaded your app are with it.  The stronger the engagement is, the stronger your marketing messages and relationship with your users become.

 

There are a few key components to driving a high level of user engagement:

 

  • Content -- I have said before that "Content is King", and you've listened.  The stats I will show below will demonstrate how well you did in 2015, and our goal with you is to continue that huge growth we have experienced with your apps.  That said, a consistent level of attention to the content of your app, content that will give your users reasons to be paying close attention often, is the most important thing you can do
  • Communication -- Push notifications are an absolute must.  We have found that our apps with the highest level of user engagement are also the ones that are sending on average at least 4-6 push notifications per month.
  • Growth -- Continuing to grow your user base is a never ending task.  Resting at a certain number of downloads is a huge mistake.  It should be a goal of yours to see a consistent level of growth in your download number, and continuing to keep that top of mind for your staff when communicating with your clients, keeping your download collateral visible online and in social media, and promoting the app at least once a month in some format are all keys to growth.

 

Here is a year over year engagement comparison for apps in general:

 

This report is based on apps in general around the world.  It details a comparison between 2014 and 2015 for user engagement.  Notice that the number of times the app was launched increased in 2015 over 2014, but also that the average amount of time spent in the app increased from 5.7 minutes to 6.02 minutes.  This is telling us that, in general, people are using and engaged with apps much more now than they have been previously.

 

So, I wanted to see how you are all doing with your apps by comparison to apps in general worldwide.  We made a big push in 2015 to work with you to raise the level of engagement, and while I am sorry to say in 2014 we were behind general app averages for engagement, I am thrilled to say we SMASHED these general numbers in 2015.

 

Here is our year over year engagement comparison with 2014 shown above 2015:

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So, while apps in general in 2014 were seeing an average session time of 5.7 minutes and were ahead of us, YOUR hard work and dedication to growing your apps in 2015 paid huge dividends and we are over 67% ahead of apps in general in engagement for 2015 with a 10 minutes and 20 seconds average session versus 6.02 minutes for apps as a whole.  NICE WORK!!!

 

So, what do I want you all to take from this?  We operate here from a level of positive dissatisfaction, meaning we can be happy about this current success, but never content with where we are currently at, always wanting to improve.  My challenge to you for the balance of 2016 is to continue the phenomenal growth.  Increase your engagement because the efforts you made last year are showing benefits.  It is time to ride that wave.

 

How do you do it???  See the points above:  Content, Communication, and Growth.  AND, continue to lean on us even more.  We are thrilled with these numbers and want to do all we can to continue to help you.  If you haven't lately, REACH OUT TO US NOW, to help you with a strategy and action plan for this year, and let's get to work.

 

My office direct, 858.437.9262 or rob@gallusgolf.com