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Tips As demand continues, golf resorts need to double down on marketing as a guest service.

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photo of the author Gregg Blanchard

 Sep 23, 2021

It’s crazy to say it, but many golf resorts simply don’t have to generate demand right now. Some are reducing ad spend, some are sending fewer email campaigns, and others are just doing a little less of everything because they don’t have to. They’re already booked solid through the season and, occasionally, into the next.

But what’s extremely important to remember is that marketing is not just a demand generation tool, it’s a guest service tool.

And with short staffs and lots of guests lined up to visit, this is a perfect time to set aside the traditional notions of marketing as a demand-gen tool and dig into marketing’s ability to help guests have an incredible trip.

So Good, They’d Pay

The person who gave me the first big break in my career used to have a saying:

“Create marketing so good that people would pay for it.”

Marketing that people would pay for? While the idea seems odd at first, consider the guidebooks of yesteryear. Here’s a document that is designed to help turn a normal trip to a new city into the ultimate trip to a new city. A tool they helps ensure you don’t waste a minute of that hard-earned vacation.

Did they pay for those guidebooks? Absolutely. It was an entire industry.

If you think about your marketing – and specifically your marketing automation – the same way, you’ll find that your marketing campaigns can help give every one of those golfers all the tools they need to have an amazing, flawless trip.

Data-Supported Value

There’s one last thing to mention before we talk about the actual campaigns and topics you’ll want to focus on. Because the value of a guest having a great trip is much, much greater than just a smile on their face when they leave.

Usually Net Promoter Score (NPS) is calculated across groups of guests, but when you look at it on the individual level – the score each guest gave after their trip – you see a clear, unmistakable correlation.

nps vs return rate chart

The more satisfied a guest is when they leave your golf resort, the more likely they are to come back to your golf resort.

Interestingly, we’ve also been able to track clear, measurable increases in NPS from a single, guidebook-style email sent just before a guest arrives.

Marketing as Guest Service

So what does marketing as guest service look like? Well, it starts by honing in, among other things, on two lists:

  • The things that keep people from having a great trip
  • The things that help people have a great trip

Where is the best place to find these? It probably doesn’t take more than a short conversation with your front desk agents, a few minutes perusing survey responses, or a quick search through your social media mentions and comments to give yourself a great starting point.

Here are some common ones.

Getting to the Resort
This is a painfully common issue that, at times, some folks are embarrassed to mention because it implies they’re bad with directions. But there is almost always something that can trip folks up. Maybe it’s a check-in area that doesn’t look like a check-in area. Maybe there’s construction on the highway leading to the resort. Regardless of what it is, helping folks not arrive at the front desk frustrated and annoyed is a great first step.

Not Missing Highlights
Every resort has things that people rave about. Perhaps it’s sunset from the driving range or the famous Arnold Palmers at the clubhouse. These are things that people love to cross off the list during their trip to feel like they got the “full” or “true” experience. Conversely, these are things that can give folks a lot of remorse if they aren’t able to do or, even worse, didn’t know about until it was too late.

Pre-Arrival To Do Lists
Frequently, golf resorts will have things that need to be taken care of ahead of time. For example, lessons may not be available on demand, they need to be booked in advance. Same with dining reservations at the most popular restaurant or a long list of other activities. Again, the worst time for a guest to find out they should have done something earlier is when it’s now too late.

Special Requests or Needs
A large portion of your guests have unique needs that they’ve surely learned to live with but, when catered to, could enhance the experience significantly. Yet again, unless you know what these needs are before they arrive, you likely won’t have enough time to do something about it.

Got a bit of a list? Now it’s time to create our campaigns.

Four Simple, Automated Emails

Before we jump into each of these, try to not overthink any one of them. Remember, you don’t have to sell them on anything – they’ve already booked – you simply need to help them have an incredible, hiccup-free trip.

Confirmations
Your booking confirmation is the perfect time to remind them of the other stuff they need to do before they arrive like book dining reservations or lessons. Yes, you can use other messages to remind them of these things, but customizing your confirmation email will put that information in a campaign that sees the highest open/click rates of virtually any email you’ll ever send.

Pre-Arrival
Each guest’s booking window presents marketers with a golden opportunity to make sure their guests have all the tools, information, and ideas they need to have an incredible experience. This email, sent 7-14 days before arrival, is the perfect time to get those highlights on their radar right in that window of time that the anticipation begins to build.

Pre-Arrival Survey
The timing of this campaign depends more on your team and the services you offer to guests than anything. Look at what you are able to help guests with, design a short survey that captures the information you need to act on these services, build an email campaign with a link to this survey (be sure the responses are tied back to each individual guest), and time it relative to their arrival so you have plenty of time to act on what you learn.

Arrival Day
This is my favorite campaign. Sent the morning of someone’s arrival, this takes everything a guest needs – directions and tips for travel, the phone number of the front desk if they need help, reminders about things they can do in-resort if they have a free hour or two before a tee-time or meal, etc. – at puts it right at the top of their inbox right in the moment they need it most.

Service-Focused Marketing

A series of thoughtful, helpful emails sent between the moment a guest books their vacation and when they arrive at your resort can set them up for success.

The current wave of demand in golf will likely wane in the coming months and years, but if you can help ensure your guests have an incredible trip, this will give you a reservoir of satisfied golfers you can bring back again and again and again long after this wave has passed.

Want to dig deeper into any of these campaigns or see screenshots or copywriting tips for each? Download our free book, The Ultimate Guide to Resort Marketing Automation:
https://corp.inntopia.com/tools/ultimate-guide-to-resort-marketing-automation/

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