Economic influences may force some clubs to consider cost containment methods to improve the financial stability of the club. Most people understand that the cost of Internet-based communication is a thousand times less expensive now compared to just a couple of years ago. Clubs can effectively apply low-cost electronic communication to realize real saving. This article is the first in a series Clubessential will publish addressing specific ways that the Internet can cut costs at clubs, save money and increase member involvement.
Membership and Online Reservations
More than a year ago Clubessential introduced an integrated suite of reservations products, NetCaddyTM Reservations Suite, which provides tee times, tennis courts, squash courts, paddle courts, professional lessons a la carte dining, events, spa reservations, etc. Clubs that have installed the reservations suite are seeing great results. Since then, feedback has shown great results for the clubs. Clients have reported a 65% drop in phone calls to their pro-shops and reservations desks. Other clients have seen a tenfold increase in website sign-ins after pairing two types of reservations like tennis courts and tee times. Clubs that have implemented an online reservation system have seen increased website traffic, reduced costs and improved service.
- The consistency of the user interface and graphics over multiple types of reservations made the Netcaddy Reservations Systems easier for members to master.
- Members who learned to use one reservations module were quick to adopt another.
- Members visiting the website to make a reservation were more likely to continue browsing the site to find other points of interest.
- Reservation systems that linked to a third party disrupted the member’s website experience causing frustration in learning new systems while many members did not return to the website.
- Members who use reservations systems definitely learn their password and how to sign in to the website; key hurdles to overcome in building a successful website.
- Online reservation booking pages become “expensive real-estate.” Event Announcements placed on the reservation booking pages receive tremendously enhanced readership. The reservation booking pages act a well placed advertisement for activities and announcements at the club.
Online Reservations and Cost Savings
Most General Managers we talk to can see right away how embedded reservations systems result in massive increases in website traffic, but it is not always clear how embedded reservations can translate into reduced costs. Here's how:
- Low cost advertising. Think of all the costs associated with getting a member to see an event announcement in your newsletter just a single time. Figuring in labor, printing, postage, the cost might be as high as $2.00. The comparable cost of causing a member to see an announcement posted next to the tee times reservation system a single time might be as low as $0.01. So "cross marketing" is the least expensive way to communicate to members ever invented by a long way.
- Increased participation. If you ever have trouble selling out events, you know that gaining an additional 5% participation can often be the difference between a large loss and a handsome gain. Use "almost free" advertising to sell out events by placing event notifications on the reservations page.
- Reduced attrition. Engaged members tend to continue as members. More communication leads to greater engagement, so higher website traffic reduces attrition.
- Reduced old school communications costs. Once reservations traffic livens up the website, communicating with paper through the mail can be reduced. These are not trivial savings, as most clubs spend in excess of $80,000 per year on paper, printing, and postage, not counting labor.
Today's technology market is abuzz with new developments but distinguishing the sizzle and gimmicks from the real solutions is critical. Tightly integrated reservations, with simple consistent interfaces, will result in a tenfold increase in website traffic. This traffic will not die out because members grow weary of the latest fad - online reservations are a key service that members expect and appreciate - usage will only increase in years to come.
If you would like further information about the Event Manager or the NetCaddyTM Reservations Suite, CLICK HERE or call Jim Dries at 513-322-4186.