Just four miles south of Edinburgh City centre you’ll find Liberton Golf Club, a little gem whose parkland course offers an interesting challenge to golfers of all standards. A trailblazer in equal rights, it was one of the first clubs in the UK to put male and female members on an equal footing when it opened in 1920 (postponed from 1914 due to the outbreak of World War I).
Though it will soon celebrate its centenary year, Liberton has an eye on the future as well and last year began to offer online bookings through BRS Golf by GolfNow. Increasing visitor revenue, improving membership retention rates and cutting down on administration were key objectives. After initial presentations of BRS Golf to Club Secretary David Doig and Head Professional Iain Seath, they recommended a full presentation be given to the committee.
David explains: “The committee at Liberton are responsible for all aspects of the club, and it was important that they were all active in evaluating such an important initiative. It would be fair to say that, prior to the meeting, many committee members had concerns about online booking and how effective it could be for Liberton.
“After the presentation, we got the full and unanimous backing of the committee to proceed with stage two of the plan – to hold a members’ information evening, where we could explain what we were trying to do, the benefits to the club and, of course, to let them see how the system worked and provide opportunities to ask questions etc.”
Barry Johnston, BRS Golf Regional Account Manager in 2016, attended the meeting on behalf of the company.
“I frequently get requests to help with members’ evenings, and as the introduction of online booking would certainly impact all members, I can readily appreciate the committee has a duty to share information and consult with the membership,” he says. “I always enjoy such evenings and the night at Liberton was very positive. In my experience no two clubs are the same, and it was great for me to hear how tee times are booked, etc., and allowed me to explain how BRS Golf would operate at the club.”
David continues: “The feedback from the members evening was 100 per cent positive, and after a brief discussion among the committee, we placed the order with BRS Golf in November 2016. The system was installed and all ready to be used by the end of December, but we had decided to commence live booking in February 2017. So we were well ahead of schedule.”
And after using the system for a full year, how successful has the project been?
“Without a doubt, this has been a very successful initiative,” comments David. “We had only a handful of issues with members but these were easily handled with a bit of hand-holding, and the transition from our old booking arrangements to BRS Golf was very smooth.
“We are particularly delighted with the open competition section of visitor online booking, and when we set one of our opens ‘live’ at 9.00am, the event was fully booked by 9.25am and £1,700 had gone directly into our bank account from the online payments each visitor had made.
“All of the entries were processed automatically, and the event only took five minutes to set up. This is a massive saving of administrative effort and a far more secure and accurate way of handling payments!”
Head Professional at the club, Iain Seath, runs a busy shop and managed the paper tee sheet which has now been replaced completely by BRS Golf. Has this been a smooth transition?
“I was keen to get online booking into the club and very supportive of the decision to get BRS Golf, but I did expect teething problems and difficulties when we came to implement the system,” he observes. “But I was delighted that everything went so smoothly and it has made a real difference to our operation.
“In the past I could easily spend an hour on the phone handling booking requests on busy days and that simply does not happen anymore. I can now spend more time with members and visitors who are in the shop, and we are delighted to improve our service level in this way.
“The members are using the system really well and without doubt we are also seeing an increase in green fee revenue from visitor online booking through our own website and the GolfNow distribution channels. I would be pleased to share our positive experience with BRS Golf with any other club considering implementing the system.”
Would anybody at the club prefer to go back to the previous arrangements?
“No way! BRS Golf is a vital part of Liberton Golf Club now,” David answers. “If we took away the booking system we would absolutely hear the member’s wrath, and I certainly don’t want to be on the end of that. I think the members enjoy having the system and see the benefit it has for them, in booking both their casual and competition games of golf.”
David also highlights that, from an administrative point of view, the system provides added value by assisting the office in booking out rooms and halls, which allows the club to fully link their golf visitors, members and room hires to the catering system, providing smoother and improved customer service within the clubhouse.
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