Have you played here before? It’s an innocuous and generally harmless question with enormous upside. Other industries – especially the restaurant industry – have used this relatively innocent question for decades in order to prime the pump for an engaging customer experience. Asking someone if they have been to your golf course, restaurant, spa – or any other hospitality or leisure venue – opens the door for conversation and questions, builds rapport and emotional connection between the customer and your staff/brand, and provides an opportunity to share your club’s best stories or things a customer should know before heading out. 59club USA has crunched the numbers and, once again, the top-performing clubs never miss an opportunity to ask this question. The rest of the pack, however, fails to ask this question 64% of the time. Let’s dive in.
The most effective way to open the door for an engaging conversation and information gathering is to ask personal questions but asking a customer where they see themselves in five years or what makes them the happiest isn’t really appropriate during the tee time booking process. Asking if they have played the course before, however, is a semi-opened-ended question with a clear goal and hundreds of different avenues for additional conversation. If the customer has played the course before, it begs the question “when?” Was it a long time ago or before a recent renovation? Have there been changes to improve the club since then? Why did they take so long in between rounds? Are they from out of town and should their name and email address go into a special “feeder market” list bucket in your CRM system? Enormous amounts of information all gained from starting with one simple question.
These types of conversation starters not only gather important information for marketing and customer service operations, but also provide an opportunity to tell positive stories or provide important general information about your club to someone who may not know. If someone is playing for the first time, they might want to hear about a featured hole, strategy on how to play the course, where to find restrooms, course rankings or accolades, humorous anecdotes and other positive stories. If your club is undergoing capital improvements or repairing part of the course, this is the perfect time to alert the player so they aren’t blindsided when they encounter the issue on-course and so angry they create a Yelp profile just to leave you a poor review. The truth, they say, shall set you free.
Once again, the top clubs are doing this and the majority of other clubs simply aren’t. Every single club at the 59club USA Podium Level – an aggregate of the highest scoring clubs – asks this question during the tee-time booking process without fail. The industry average, however, is an abysmal 36%, meaning an extremely high percentage of clubs are leaving easily gatherable information on the table, and leaving the first impression of the golf club up to the player. The golf and leisure clubs who take charge of the first impression and subsequent conversations tend to score higher in other areas as well, creating a domino effect of individual, positive experiences which lead to a better experience overall.