If you think back to your networking or sales calls in the before the last turn of the century, you might remember the humble business card – something now considered archaic and overly obsolete. But the simple business card was one of the greatest first-party-data collection mechanisms ever made. It provided necessary information in which to produce a customer profile including name and geographical locations, contact information, certain demographic information based on the company and card stock and built trust and rapport throughout the sales process – often in the form of a firm handshake.
With the advent of search engines, social media networks and a near full integration of the internet into most of our waking lives, the need for collecting first-party data waned to the point of near obsolescence itself. Why make what you can buy cheaper? But new rules, regulations and internet navigation habits putting a premium on privacy have changed the game again, and it’s now more important than ever for golf clubs and hospitality venues to collect as much data as they can about their clients and customers – straight from the horse’s mouth.
According to data from 59club USA, golf clubs and hospitality venues are simply not gathering first-party data from their existing customers. And just like past success is the best indicator of future success, getting a new customer is 10 times harder than retaining an existing customer.
Third-Party Data vs. First-Party Data – What are We Talking About?
Anyone who has followed social media in any capacity over the last few years is likely familiar with third-party data. Basically, third-party data is a set of geographic, psychographic or demographic indicators purchased from a third party like an internet service provider or social network. Ever seen an advertisement on Facebook for something you were talking about with your friends? How about an Amazon ad that seems to follow you around the internet for that gadget you wanted? And while your phone or computer is actively listening to you, Facebook and Google are not listening to you to immediately serve you ads. The fact of the matter is you, the user, are freely giving that information to these enormous conglomerates. You just might not be aware of how much you’re giving them. That’s third-party data. And it’s going away – or at least significantly and actively changing.
First-party data is information gathered directly between you and your customers. Someone walks into your shop, fills out a form and gives it back to you for input into your CRM or database. Information can include everything you might find on a business card, but can also include what customers like about your club, what they don’t like, what they expect, what they might want in the future and what they’ve purchased in the golf shop. It’s an infinitely more personal connection, very inexpensive and certainly much more reliable.
Advertising Third Party Info Is Going Away
The past few years has brought with it a general concern about how internet navigation data is being used. Huge companies have been inundated with fines – albeit only a small percentage of their operating budget – and governments across the world have started to crack down on misuse of private information. That especially hurts clubs and venues who rely on tourism dollars from multiple different states and countries because each state and country has their own rules. California, for example, has much more strict internet privacy rules than its neighbor Arizona. And as a whole, Canada is far tougher on data collection than the United States but falls short compared to the European Union. Eventually, rules and regulations will find their way back to the mean – or at least begin to use common language – and by then, the data-aggregation systems your firm may have used will be gone. Putting a premium on collecting first-party data will help your club transition back into earlier models and set your club above competition who might find themselves at a loss later down the line.
The Industry Is Failing to Collect Necessary Information
59club USA data shows the average score of data-collection methods at the club level are substandard – scoring 6.7 out of 10. Most clubs fail to gather email addresses from new and existing customers, while some clubs fail to gather so much as a name or phone number.
The simple solution is to use your point-of-sale staff to collect this information at check in, put it in a system and then analyze the data later. But there are also digital integration systems which mirror common booking engines to automate this process. Then, it’s up to you as a manger what you do with the data. And just like having an umbrella in the trunk, better have it and not need it than need it and not have it.