Hayling GC: 125 years old, 21st century diary and booking system
Hayling GC is a rare example of a genuine 18 hole links course on the South Coast, established 128 years ago and widely admired as a great test of golf. Its Art Deco clubhouse became a famous landmark on the coastline, and while it has since been re-built its style stayed completely faithful to the original design.
Hayling is a classic long established private members’ golf club and Secretary Manager Ian Walton is challenged with maintaining the traditions and membership privileges that come with a long established club, while bringing it into the 21st century and improving its bottom line. Ian works closely with the members’ Committee implementing strategy, and in operational terms with his small back office team, the bar and catering team and the Pro Shop.
Online booking: handling societies the 21st century way
A 45% reduction in Ian’s back office team focused the need to maximise the remaining administrative resource’s efficiency and Ian’s time in terms of handling society enquiries and bookings, invoicing etc. So in February 2010 the BRS Golf admin module, the online version of the Club Diary, was installed. Ian saw an immediate return and benefit: “We set it up so that the Pro Shop that handled green fees and society reception could see everything online as well as those of us in the office.”
“With a reduced admin team I needed to make sure my limited resources were being used as efficiently as possible, especially when it came to dealing with societies. I was very aware that society organisers were able to tell the difference between clubs that handled their enquiries efficiently, professionally and in a matter of minutes, and those that seemed to do everything manually and had to come back to them perhaps days later. To be fair, the Committee was somewhat apprehensive about the change.”
“However, with the BRS system I was soon able to take organisers through all their requirements – even the ones they hadn’t thought of - and with a couple of clicks tell them how much the day would cost, capture all their contact details and any special notes about eg. food requirements. Then at the end of our conversation on the ‘phone, I just send them an e-mail confirming all the arrangements, along with an invoice for the initial deposit to confirm their booking.”
“I could tell straightaway from their feedback that one organiser after another was really impressed with this level of response, and that we were giving them a much higher level of service that they wanted and appreciated. It was changing the image of the club, and looking back, this was essential to ensure the administration ‘mirrored’ the quality of the golf course experience. That is making Hayling a much more sustainable business as well as a super club at which to have a golf day.”
Members’ competitions: making access fairer for everyone
By the end of 2010, Ian wanted to start changing the form of access for those entering Members’ competitions, of which Hayling has a lot throughout most weekends of the year. The main problem was that with the paper-based tee time booking sheets pinned up on the board, all the usual things were happening: illegible names, people changing their times and snowpaking their names out and so on, but the chief complaint that Ian used to get was simply the lack of accessibility: “The paper sheets went up 2 weeks before a competition and members living locally would get to the club at 7am and put their names up. This meant those living further afield couldn’t get on to the sheet and enter, which created a major source of complaints.”
“By changing to an online competition entry system, we could make the whole thing fairer and more open to everyone. We initially trialled another system that was part of the existing club administration software we were using for membership, subs etc. but it lacked the functionality of the BRS system, so we changed over to BRS. It was tested early in the New Year with our senior golfers over the Christmas and New Year and the effect was immediate – the members loved it.”
“We set it up so that those who wanted to book at the club could still do so on the recently purchased touch-screen, but they had a window of 2 hours from 7am, and from 9am the competitions went live and online to anyone who wanted to enter from their home or office. “Having trialled the BRS system successfully, we then decided to make all the competition entries online.
We went to great lengths to communicate with and update all the members in terms of what we were doing, what they had to do to enter, etc. We had two trial events with several members trained up as volunteers next to the touch screen PCs we’d set up in the bar and in the Pro Shop. Each of these PCs had swipe card readers to make logging on and identification really easy.”
“We trialled this in the Bar initially with all the senior golfers in the Monday morning crowd, and then when that went well and people found it was easier and much less challenging than they thought it would be, we extended it to Saturdays when it went live 2 weeks prior to a competition. We haven’t looked back since then, and the complaints about fairness of access have evaporated.”
Harmonising the Club Diary, managing a busy course
Arguably the greatest strength of the BRS Golf online booking system is its ability to become the centralised Club Diary, and by setting it up on Hayling’s ClubView website, everyone can now see the Diary of the club’s events and the bookings. The Club Diary is set up so that every day of each month can be seen. All the tee times of golf societies, Men’s, Ladies’ and Juniors’ competitions, casual visitors, and so on can be seen, as can all the events and functions taking place in the clubhouse itself. This has improved enormously the degree to which anyone can see what’s happening at Hayling GC. Any casual visitor can check and see when they should be able to play, and then ‘phone Ian’s office to make their booking, paying at the Pro Shop when they arrive for their game.
From time to time, Ian can also block book a tee time period exclusively for the members on busy days eg. in between society bookings, so that there is still the opportunity for them to play. This leaves the Ian, the office and the Pro Shop completely in control of the busy course’s usage: “We had three diaries running before: the ClubView one, the BRS one and another I used in the office on an Excel spreadsheet. Obviously it was impossible to keep all three in sync, and I wanted to move to just the one that I and all my depart managers – Pro Shop, Catering, Bar, green keeping - could see, and all the members, casual visitors, society organisers, etc.”
BRS Golf and ClubView have fully integrated their own software systems, and this helped Ian a great deal to achieve his goal of a single centralised online Diary. “The great thing is that everyone can see it and use the information as they need to, either for checking when they can play, or for my departments to see forward bookings they need to know about, and with special admin access, see all the notes about an event or booking.”
“Having a single online public Club Diary makes things much better operationally throughout the whole club, and I think it’s probably for me as the Club Manager the single biggest asset of the BRS system as a club management tool.”