Ratho Park maximises its opportunities with BRS Golf
A golf club is just like a hotel without the bedrooms – it’s about people, service, business, food and beverage, hospitality, leisure. But instead of wanting bedrooms, they want tee times.”
Such a statement may at first seem quite alien to most golf club secretaries, but when it comes from Craig Innes, an experienced golf club manager with a background in hotel management at Marriott and Gleneagles, it’s worth taking seriously and exploring further.
As someone who was used to the hotel business, using an online booking system makes complete sense, indeed as Craig put it: “Alongside great customer service, it’s all about maximizing yield. You can’t manage, let alone maximize, your potential revenues in any hotel without such a system. It’s the same with golf clubs and courses: you have to know when it’s being used, when it isn’t, seasonal trends and so on, in order to pitch your rates and fees at levels that will attract business to the club or onto the course.”
A long term user and satisfied customer of BRS Golf
Having initially seen the system presented at a GCMA meeting and then shown a demonstration at Whitecraigs GC by Club Secretary Alan Keith, Craig knew it was exactly what he was looking for as a management tool. Craig has now been using the BRS Golf online booking system for two years, and to him it’s just like using the yield management systems he used in some of the UK’s top hotels - except that instead of rooms it’s about maximizing tee time and other bookings.
What Craig has found with the BRS Golf system is how much more effectively he has been able to manage Ratho Park’s key income streams such as societies, members’ guests and visitors, and provide a higher standard of service to them all from the moment they call the club to the point where he wants to ask them about their next visit.
Creating great customer service
Craig knows just how important it is to handle calls from prospective society organizers and visitors promptly, professionally and courteously: “Today’s golfers are ‘time poor’ and simply don’t have time to waste. So one of the immediate benefits of the BRS system is that we can handle any external enquiries very efficiently, give them the responses they’re looking for, prompt them for all the things we need to know, deal with any special needs and with one click tell them what the cost will be and how much we require for the deposit. That sort of thing impresses and tells the prospective customer he or she is dealing with a professional and efficiently managed club. It’s a great advert for Ratho Park GC.”
Craig continues: “It’s the same with green fee visitors. They always call and ask to ‘book a tee time’, and that is exactly what we do for them. Wherever they may be calling from – and that may be overseas - they have the absolute promise of knowing they have that particular tee time and day, and all they have to do is turn up and pay the fee.”
Effective society and visitor management tool
Society business is vital to Ratho Park and is primarily responsible for delivering some £90,000 of visitor income a year. Craig particularly likes BRS features such as being able to e-mail the society organizer for deposit requests, confirmations and so on.
While most society enquiries are handled by Craig’s office team, the networked BRS system is also used by club professional Alan Pate and his Pro Shop team for green fee visitors. Alan and his staff are full of praise for BRS Golf and their system, and have an extra way of impressing customers: they now have two screens showing the booking system, one for the staff and one arranged so that the customers can see exactly what is happening click by click with their booking!
Great marketing tool
Another aspect Craig feels is invaluable is the BRS system’s capabilities as a marketing tool: “To market the club, it’s vital to have a database of all your society and visitor e-mail addresses. We deal with around 5 societies a week and many more individual visitors. The BRS system captures all those e-mail addresses for us, and over 18 months or so we’ve built a substantial and very valuable database. All I have to do then is to send an e-mail telling them of our special society and visitor rates for eg. 2010, perhaps with special offers for booking early and so on, and the bookings start to come in and fill up the diary.”
Craig knows how much more competitive this is making Ratho Park GC: “We’ve worked hard to ensure that Ratho Park offers a great product in terms of the course, the clubhouse, the F&B, and the welcome, and it shows because we get a lot of repeat business. Since we’ve had the BRS system and have been exploiting its marketing capabilities, I also know that we’ve built up more society business than the three other peer clubs nearby.”
What about the members? ‘…they love it!’
Booking systems are often the subject of debate between members, but Ratho Park’s members clearly appreciate the benefits of being able to check and book tee times from the convenience of their home and/or office, as Craig can confirm: “We rolled it out to the members two years ago, and they love it! Most are busy people working in or around Edinburgh with little time to waste. For them, being able to go online, look for a time and book it, is both efficient and ideal. They now know that their time is eg. 9.30am next Saturday, so they can plan their day around that certainty. The alternative, ie. coming to the club, waiting for the tee to clear, etc. means wasting hours more time and taking a whole day out instead of what need only be a few hours.”
Payment online coming soon to Ratho Park
The BRS system can do online payment, and Craig is doing this for various Ratho Park GC open competitions in 2010, having heard about the benefits this way of doing things has brought other clubs such Hesketh and West Lancs: “We are introducing online payment in 2010 for some of our open competitions. We already use the system for people who want to book their entries and register their details, and it is an amazingly efficient way of managing open competitions compared to the old pen and paper way where every call took several minutes each and the bits of paper mounted up! Now, the entry process almost looks after itself. Online payment will make the process even more time efficient from our point of view.”
Summary: “I can’t speak highly enough of BRS Golf.”
As a long term user of booking systems, Craig is well qualified to give an opinion about the BRS system. So perhaps it is not surprising, with both his experience and all the benefits to his club’s management and administrative efficiency, marketing and service delivery, Craig is very enthusiastic about the BRS Golf online booking system: “Everyone’s now very comfortable with the BRS system, and knows how easy it is to use. For myself, I can’t speak highly enough of BRS Golf. They are a great team to work with, and the system itself is a fantastic tool.”
“The data it provides me with in terms of eg. the course usage enables me to make properly informed decisions instead of the alternative which would be guesswork. It gives me a super and yet almost no cost marketing tool, and it enables Ratho Park GC to be and be seen to be a professional and obviously well managed club.”
“There’s no excuse nowadays for clubs not doing things professionally, especially when it comes to dealing with visitors. The bottom line is many more clubs should be using an online booking system like BRS, and especially in Scotland, the Home of golf.”