Saturday, June 11, 2011

Outside events and their impact on your club

With membership roles down, for some, to an all-time low, clubs are increasingly looking to outside events to make up the difference in lost revenue.  On paper it looks like a great idea, but in reality, you may end up running off your normal paying customers, your members.

If your club cannot eliminate outside events completely, what then is the “right” amount of events to hold per year?  

The answer will (of course) vary from club to club, but in general, and with respect to your budget, the best approach is to take your revenue goal for the year and divide it by the fewest events you can feasibly hold.    

For example, if your goal is $100,000 in gross sales and you expect $5,000 per event, you will need twenty outside bookings to meet your goal.

Obviously, the fewer events you hold, the better.  Or is it really that obvious?

For clubs with few guidelines other than the simple formula given above or worse, the policy of, “we need as many events as possible so don’t turn ANY down”, the word “obvious” never hits them between the eyes until members start disappearing.

If you don’t think twenty events or more negatively impacts your members on what was sold as a private club, then you are kidding yourself.  

If you are already knee-deep in every other weekend outings along with another 3-4 events per month for good measure, it’s not too late to turn the ship around but you need someone (or several) at the club committed to the goal:  Maximum revenue, minimum impact.  

Below are few suggestions to accomplish MRMI:

1. Keep in mind, you have a (perceived) quality advantage -  If you are like most private clubs you directly and indirectly compete with multiple public golf courses that have conditioned their customers to pay discounted rates through sites such as and  When these courses go back and try to charge “rack” rates after discounting heavily at $15-20 more per round, trust me, it is a tough sell.  Since you probably don’t discount, the perceived value is higher for your course, and as such, should be an easier sell as most people perceive playing a private club as a higher value and a more special outing.  Use this to your advantage!

2. Steer events to Mondays (or slow days) ASAP -  I know, I know, the customer is always right...and for years you have let them dictate what day what works best for them.  But in this case, let’s keep in mind who our real customer base is, the members.  Remember:  Maximum revenue, minimum impact.  If you have traditionally hosted an event for years on a Friday, you should nicely and humbly say to the tournament director, “we have always appreciated you having your tournament with us and are eager to have you come back next year.  One change our board is implementing as a result of several membership survey’s is moving outside events to Mondays when possible.  I know you have always had your outing on Friday and I wish we could continue in that manner but we have decided for the health of our membership to move things to our slower days...”.  If they balk, you could always charge, for example, $85 for weekend events, instead of your standard $60 rate.  Ninety-ninety times out of one hundred, the tournament director will pick the lesser rate and free up your weekends or may hold the event elsewhere which brings up the next point....

3. Focus on Premium events - To maximize revenue and maximize buzz, make it a goal to hold as many “premium” events as possible if you find you need the revenue outside events bring.  “Premium” could and should be defined by the number of players that traditionally play and/or good press, i.e. mega-charities.  If XYZ organization is slow to communicate, promises 80 players, and instead delivers 50-60 players, and you don’t have a group minimum charge (which you should), you might re-think having them at your club going forward.  

4. Get it in writing - One of the biggest problems with country clubs and public courses in general as it relates to tournaments/outside events is their lack of salesmanship when it comes to renewing events?  I have been the tournament director for three separate tournaments, at three different courses, and after playing none of the three said anything more than, “thanks for coming and we hope to see you next year”.  Wow!?!?!  Why clubs/public courses are afraid to ask for a two to three year contract is odd when so many places work on contracts these days.  You could sell them the advantage of locking in the date NOW, locking in food/course rates, and maybe throw in a few extra’s for booking out in the future.  

5. Generously reward the tournament director - this again is so basic, yet so underutilized.  Why?  People love to feel and be appreciated and at times will make their decision based soley on this factor when two seemingly equal offers are on the table.  Do you give the tournament director a few round passes?  A nice shirt with the club logo?  A custom-fit driver or putter?  A couple of lessons with your pro?  When you consider the revenue they bring in and the influence they have, throwing them a few bones is cheap insurance on future business. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011