golf club marketing

Golf Operator Spotlight - Matt Staffen - St. Marys Golf & Country Club

I had the pleasure of speaking with Matt Staffen, President and General Manager of St. Marys Golf & Country Club in Ontario, Canada. In the three years St. Marys has been us, Matt has been a leader in implementing our messaging tools and technology solutions. With the help of BOOST and Matt’s marketing vision, St. Marys Golf & Country Club App has grown their app users from 800 to over 2,500 - in the last season alone! Plus, their Clubhouse Kitchen sales have increased by 28%!

Whether your golf club is big, small, private or public, we could all take a page out of Matt’s book on how he has grown his business, and more importantly, built a golf community where his customers feel at home.

  • Molly Jasco, Gallus Golf Marketing Manager

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Molly: Can you tell me what career and life decisions led to you the golf industry and becoming the President and General Manager of one of the top golf clubs in Ontario?

Matt: Our family purchased St. Marys Golf & Club Club in the early 90’s when I was about six years old. I started working at the golf course when I was 15 or 16 years old and then went off to university and started working for some really high-end in golf courses up in Muskoka, a well-known tourist region here in Ontario just two hours north of Toronto. I also worked for a big corporate retailer for five years and what drove me back to St. Marys was not just my love for golf, but more of my passion for the marketing side of the industry.  So that’s really what led me to my decision to come back to operate the family business and operate St. Marys and grow it to its full potential.

Molly: How have you utilized your marketing background to grow your club?

Matt: What I really love about this industry and why I love showing up to work every day is the marketing side of it, and what influences a golfer to choose your golf course over the hundreds of other golf courses they have the option to play nowadays. There are 60 golf courses within 45 minutes of us, so that's obviously a big challenge. But we’ve been able to grow our business by taking advantage of the e-marketing side. It started with a lot of emails to our member base, then our Facebook Page, Instagram, and really took off in the last year with the app.  

We're a mature industry and in order to survive today, you have to grow and be the best. That’s the mentality we take every day and we’ve grown the business that way - whether it’s for our weddings, memberships, or our junior program which all have taken off in the last couple years - revenues have grown 100%. It’s been a whole lot of fun to see our golfing community transpire into what it has become today.

Molly: St. Marys is in a competitive golf market, what is your club doing that sets you apart?

Matt: First of all, we are continually staying in touch with them. We’ve found that adding the app to our efforts made perfect sense, especially for the younger generation, under forty, who have their phones in front of them all the time, and are not always checking their emails anymore.

We also have created a culture and an atmosphere from the moment they walk in the club and play 18 holes and then come back in for food and drinks, to the moment they walk out the door. We want them to they feel like they're at home and a part of a community. That was the second part of it.

The third part was reinvestment back into the golf course, back into the property, into our equipment, into our people. For example, the last two years we've undergone a bunker renovation program so we're redoing all of our bunkers and it will be completed next year. We're also buying new golf carts to keep our equipment up to date, our people head of the game, trying to be as progressive as possible, while also growing the revenue side. We know if we only focus on the cost side eventually our competitors will catch up, so the reinvestment was a big initiative for us.

It's really about being innovative, reinvesting back in that property, and creating that culture where people want to spend time.

Molly: You ran an aggressive campaign for “Free 18 Holes For Downloading The St. Marys App”. Some may wonder why you would potentially give a round away to an existing customer. What was your reasoning behind that and how has it impacted your season?

Matt: I felt the need to be aggressive with that offer in order to build our number of users from the 800 range we had been stuck at for the last couple of years.  

With the help of the BOOST Team, I wanted to go after that market, and attack it quickly to grow our app audience. And we successfully grew our number of users from 800 to 2,500 in a matter of a few months.

With the Free 18 Holes offer, we thought it would be easy to give away something for free, but how do you turn that into future sales? We knew the younger generation redeeming this offer would want an experience and beer would be bought on the course and food purchased after their round. That incremental revenue in just doing that offer was good enough for us to justify doing something so aggressive. And now we can reach out to them and try to bring them back with different offers and value plays that will get them interested in spending time here.

We’ve used Push Notifications a lot to target that same demographic of forty and under, who are more likely to receive and look at a push notification than an email. Using that Free 18 holes offer and growing our app users was really about the long-term ability to communicate with our customers in a more modern way.

We’ve also utilized and pushed onTAP to our customer through push notifications. We want to remind people when they are on the course that they can order food through the app. That was a big thing, as well, because our kitchen sales are up 28% this season. If someone has the app on their phone they will make that decision quicker than looking for a local restaurant.

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Molly: Third Party Sites and Golf Network Apps, like 18 Birdies, have a large audience of users and courses available. What would be your advice to someone who is on the fence between using a Golf Network App or a branded golf club app?

Matt: Third Party Sites has helped grow our revenue, but it's a challenge because if you’re not the cheapest you’re less likely to get the sale and to me, that is not a good long-term play. I want to control as many of the green fee bookings as possible. So if we can do that through our app and website (with dynamic pricing), that will keep the customer coming directly to us. Also, it's a lot easier to communicate our message to them as opposed to competing with every other golf course that’s on those 3rd Party Sites. With the Gallus Golf services, we can bring them here by owning that communication.

Molly: It can be very difficult for any business to grow their social media following, but St. Marys app and social media engagement is very strong. How have you grown your online audience?

Matt: I think if courses focus on growing your brand and not trying to sell, that is key. We typically don’t go on Facebook and promote an offer. It’s more about having your audience see what the brand brings, what the experience and the culture we are trying to create at St. Marys. We believe they will be attracted to that.



Molly: Given the success St. Marys has experienced due to your strong marketing strategy, what suggestions would you have to clubs who are struggling to find time to market their Club App?

Matt: The Golf Tournament Module has been big for us and it’s so easy to use. Our Pro Shop Manager, who initially didn’t want to have anything to do with computers, now uses it for everything - even our Glow Golf Night, for scorecards and cart signs. He has really embraced it this year and we’ve even added sponsors to each hole. This allowed us to increase our annual hole sponsor fee by $50, so it’s helped our club on many different levels.

Obviously with the BOOST program that was big for me. It made me take the app more seriously and realize its benefits. Why we moved forward with BOOST was because we were content with our 800 followers but it also meant I had to spend a lot of time during the busy season coming up with marketing ideas. When I have our monthly meetings with the BOOST Team it makes it much easier to just talk about those good ideas and put them into action. It work on both sides, but it keeps us organized and forces us to stick to a plan. BOOST is always timely that way. To try to manage the app, in addition to Facebook, and email, it can be a lot for operators, especially in an age when we are trying to manage our labor. To have a full-on marketing team, who are good at what they do and also understand the game of golf can be a challenge to find.

Having BOOST on our side gives us a team we can work with, who are quick and ready to take on the things we need to do. To sum it up, the back end module is easy to use, but BOOST will take the app to the next level.

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Molly: Golf can have the reputation for being a little behind the times when it comes to implementing new technology. Sometimes we hear, “Our club doesn’t need an app because our golfers are older” or “We don’t need Instagram because of X, Y, Z”. If a club was unsure of utilizing new technology to communicate to their golfers, what would you say to them?

Matt: There are different ways to target different audiences. The younger generation, who are under forty spend an insane amount of time on their phone, so the way to communicate with them is through the app.

We still have great success with our emails, but I’ve noticed in the last couple of years that our email open rates are declining slightly. The older crowd is still responding, but the younger generation is more engaged with a quick one-line message in a push notification. As marketing evolves and that younger generation becomes your customer base, it will be tougher to target them if you don’t have your app available on their phone.


Molly: Are there any technologies you’ve seen in other industries, that you would like to see the golf industry to adopt?

Matt: Yeah, I think one of the fears with the industry right now, especially with these 3rd parties taking on more and more, is that if you’re not the cheapest, you’re not going to get the customer. Trying to be innovative through marketing, and persuading a customer to come to you, despite what the price is - I think that is a big challenge we are all facing. The hotel and airline industry had experienced this same challenge and figured out the dynamic pricing model, because finding those super cheap deals are not as common today. I believe dynamic pricing is a huge way of the future in our sport and what we do in our industry because it’s figuring out what the price should be in the high and low demand. I think integrating that into the app is a big thing - we’ve done that with our tee sheet.

We shouldn’t be trying to be the cheapest, because then it becomes a race to the bottom. It’s more about trying to provide customer value and an experience. If you have your own app, you can connect with the customer that way and offer different things for them to connect to your business. For example, onTAP is a new way to get orders that can be available to someone on the course or a local nearby that wants to pick up food.

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There are a lot of opportunities out there, you have to figure out who you are targeting and what it is you’re offering - and keeping that customer close to you - instead of the 3rd party sites. Yes, they will always have a place, but if we can control that customer experience, we will all be better off.






Gallus News - Gallus Golf CEO To Speak On Loyalty Rewards Technology At Golf Business Techcon 2018

Featured in The Golf Wire on September 5th, 2018

 

Las Vegas, NV –

Gallus Golf, the industry leader in course branded mobile app software, will be a sponsor and exhibitor at this year’s Golf Business TechCon, held in Las Vegas October 11th-12th. This event is unique to the golf industry as it is focused on technology tools and innovations transforming golf course operations. TechCon is a two-day gathering for golf course owners, operators, and industry professionals to learn about best-in-class products and services in golf and discover the what technology advancements are on the horizon.

Gallus Golf’s’ Founder & CEO, Jason Wilson, will participate in a panel discussion around Loyalty Rewards Programs, and the important role technology plays in their success or failure. “We have seen Loyalty Rewards Programs be extremely successful for many of our course clients, and mobile plays a key role in maximizing their effectiveness with today’s savvy consumer,” said Jason. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to connect with course operators in an environment centered around education on the latest and greatest tech for their business.”

Gallus News - Rob Hoffman to Speak at 2018 GolfCON Rob Hoffman Of Gallus Golf To Speak At Marriott 2018 GolfCON Next Month

Featured in The Golf Wire August 1st, 2018

Rob Hoffman to Speak at 2018 GolfCON

Marriott’s annual GolfCON will be held August 14th – 16th at the JW Marriott Orlando, Grand Lakes in Orlando, FL. In attendance at GolfCON will be the Marriott Golf Top Executives, Golf Club General Managers, Retail and Business Vendors. Representing Gallus Golf, will be Rob Hoffman, VP of Operations, and Molly Jasco, Marketing Manager. Marriott GolfCON is known as a gathering to celebrate the year’s success, build stronger business relationships, and discuss best practices in all facets of golf club management.

Joining the discussion on golf marketing and technology strategies for management organizations will be Rob Hoffman of Gallus Golf, Andy Perez of EZLinks Golf, and Ben Schmidt of GolfNow. All have extensive knowledge on the golf industry as a whole, as well as best practices in implementing technology solutions on a management level. With his twenty years of Marketing and Consulting experience, Hoffman has not only ensured success of their golf club apps, but also contributed to the club revenue growth through his focus on marketing initiatives.

“Every year I look forward to this conference to get an opportunity to share with our great colleagues at Marriott Golf some of the current technology trends as well as a peek into the future. This year, in particular, we are gaining on some major advancements, and getting to share this sneak preview with the Marriott Golf team, gaining their insights, will be rewarding for me” says Hoffman of Gallus Golf.

About Marriott Golf

Marriott Golf, the golf management organization of Marriott International and one of the world’s largest resort golf management companies, is responsible for managing more than 1.5 million rounds of golf each year on more than 1,000 holes of championship golf. Marriott Golf has a simple vision: to be the world’s premier provider of quality golf experiences. This goal is pursued by managing every component of its business with diligence and scrutiny to ensure that it delivers value to everyone involved. Learn More About Marriott Golf

Gallus News - 69 Golf Courses Have Launched Their Mobile Apps With Gallus Golf In The Last 90 Days!

Released on The Golf Wire June 8th, 2018

 

 

San Diego, CA -

From March 1st to May 31st, sixty-nine golf courses have launched their apps with Gallus Golf. When comparing numbers of apps added by Gallus in years past during this same time period, this is a 150% increase from 2017 and 330% from 2016. These statistics reflect the value of mobile technology and it's vast penetration into market. This summer of 2018 marks the 10 year mark of mobile applications inception, and in that short time there are over 2.2 million apps available in Apple App Store with over 197 billion mobile app downloads worldwide. When comparing the time people spend on technology devices, on average, 57% is spent on mobile devices.

Given the market's dependency on mobile applications, it's no surprise we are seeing golf clubs adopting this technology more and more each year. Golf clubs understand the value mobile brings to their customers in a variety of areas such as online bookings, tournament scoring, on course golf GPS, messaging, direct food & beverage ordering, as well as utilizing their branded app as a hub for marketing initiatives. 

Mobile apps connect courses and golfers directly, enhancing the customer experience on and off the course. Among the 69 new courses added, 14 are private country clubs. Adding to the member experience and expected customer service a club should provide its members, the apps are a perfect fit.

Included in the private clubs and resorts added are The Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Club, Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Golf Club, Falmouth Country Club, Legacy Pines Golf and Country Club, and Cherry Creek Golf Club.

In the short time these clubs have been promoting their app they are experiencing a strong customer demand with their engaged users. For example, Cherry Creek Golf Club began promoting their app in the beginning of April 2018, and within a two month time period they have nearly 1,000 app downloads and have produced 147 direct revenue generated activities. 

Because of this enormous growth, Gallus is investing considerable efforts and funds into deepening the connection between course and customer/member. Short and long-term future plans include integrations with Point-of-Sale systems with Artificial Intelligence for smart messaging, manufacturers for direct E-Commerce opportunities, and other software providers to include a suite of best-in-class services all from the mobile app as a hub.

 

Read Article at The Golf Wire

Driving Customer Loyalty With Your App!

Creating a simple to use, easily accessible, and enticing loyalty program can make a significant impact for any business. Earlier this year, Gallus Golf made some great enhancements to the Loyalty Program in your app, adding a new points-based option, in addition to the punch card loyalty program.

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You can now reward your loyal customers for every dollar they spend with you. Each customer will earn a point for a dollar spent, and you can create rewards for different point levels they reach. As always, you control and customize this for what works at your club.

 

Creating a loyalty program that lives IN your app is beneficial for everyone.

 

  • YOUR CUSTOMER has easy access to how close they are to their next reward, and which is important when they are making the decision on where to play their next round.

  • YOU increase the number of customers downloading YOUR app because to benefit from the loyalty program, they must have the app on their phone.


Below are a couple more examples of some easy to set up Loyalty Programs in your app, to drive different areas of revenue at your club. Reach out to your account manager, or contact support@gallusgolf.com if you want help setting up loyalty. GET SOMETHING SETUP FOR YOUR 2017 season!

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Featured App/Operator of the Month

Out of the norm for our App of the Month interview, I actually got to spend some time with this month's app operator from the Golf Wichita app, their super dynamic Assistant Manager of Golf, Shana Appelhanz.  We were both attending the Golf Inc. Strategies Summit in Austin, Texas last week, and I was fortunate enough to capture a quick conversation in video with Shana about their app.

ENJOY!

Use Your News, As Your Club Events/Offerings Calendar

Usually our tips are 100% app centered.  This week, I am sharing something you can use in any of your writing, app included.

 

www.hemingwayapp.com

 

If you visit this site you will find one of the most dynamic writing tools I have ever used.  I wish I had been made aware of it years ago.  It will help you take something you have written, from as short as a push notification to as long as a thesis, and make it more concise, check your grammar and spelling, and point out ways you can improve it.

 

Here is an old blog post of mine as a screenshot being run through this site:

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I would recommend using this app for newsletters, blog posts, emails, news items in your app, social media posts, push notifications, communications with your spouse...

Anyway, we have found it to be very helpful, and hopefully you will too!

Reach out any time, rob@gallusgolf.com or 858.437.9262.

Ideas & Tips for Loyalty/Rewards Programs

 

A couple weeks into the availability of a Loyalty/Rewards program, and with some very solid feedback from some of you, we would love to share some ideas and suggestions based on what we have seen and heard.

 

Tip #1:  Set Attainable Goals.  Launching any program that requires your customers to be engaged should compel you to position them to succeed.  Your customers enroll in your new Loyalty program, get excited about it, begin to participate, and then quickly realize they won't ever earn the rewards, they will quickly become disillusioned and the desired effect of increased Loyalty will actually result in exactly the opposite.

 

Tip #2:  Match Your Loyalty Programs to Internal Business Goals.  Use your new Loyalty capabilities to drive traffic to areas of need within your business.  For example, the restaurant at your club has introduced a fantastic new menu for this season and you're excited to debut it and increase revenue.  Launch a program that earns your patrons punches for levels of dollars spent -- "For every $5 spent in the restaurant, receive a star, and when you reach $100 total spent you will be rewarded with $20 on your next dine-in experience."  Some courses are also using the Loyalty program to drive traffic to their driving ranges, pro shops for merchandise sales, and of course to increase rounds of golf played.  Get outside of the typical golf operator box if you want with these programs because you have complete autonomy in what you set up.

 

Tip #3:  If You Don't Want to Give Away Golf, But Want to Build Around Rounds Played, Find Another Reason to Keep Them Coming Back.  Just because you build a Loyalty program based around a certain number of rounds of golf played does NOT mean you have to reward your golfers with a round of golf to build their loyalty to your club.  If a golfer is choosing where he/she would like to play on any particular day and the opportunity is there to earn some reward, any reward, by playing your course, the likelihood they will choose to play your course increases.  A program could be as simple as this: "Play 5 rounds of golf in the month of June, and with every round played after that until the end of July receive a complimentary hot dog and soda."  This drives frequent play for the month of June, and then when given the choice of where to continue to play over the course of the next month, the golfer is motivated to come back to your course, AND you still get to charge him for golf, only giving away about $1 for the hot dog and fountain soda.

 

Tip #4:  Promote Your Program.  Now that you have it, talk about it.  Put it in your monthly emails you send, post all about it on Facebook, have some fun and make a video about it and share it all over the internet, send push notifications out about it, and most importantly, make it a mandate that your staff talks with every customer about it.  It's not any good if you keep it to yourself!

 

FINALLY, it doesn't have to be perfect.  Don't be afraid to follow these tips and launch something just to get it out there and get your customers participating.  For so many of you who are at the beginning of your seasons, your clients are building their patterns for the year right now, take advantage of this and get them engaged and Loyal now.

 

As always, reach out to our team for help if you need it.  You can call my office direct at 858.437.9262 or email our team at support@gallusgolf.com

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