Looking for family values

Apr 4, 2013   //   by Mike   //   Latest News  //  Comments Off on Looking for family values

I’m constantly on the look out for various ways to improve golf operations for my clients, so I tend to look outside to other service industries to find inspiration. The hotel, airline, and car hire industries have it down to a science on how to generally market to get our business. I’m someone who is always budget conscious and will just look for the best price available, but that is now changing. After several overseas trips at the end of last year with my wife and two-year-old son, there were some simple observations that would have made our trip so much more enjoyable and easier (like leaving the kid home!). If these international service providers would really focus more on family travel they would easily make me a loyal follower of any one of these companies. (Happy child = Happy wife = Happy me!) If the family unit was more catered for by any of the major airlines, especially during long-haul flights, they would pick up a pretty large market share of the users.

One service highlight that blew us away was from AVIS car rental. We were heading into Los Angeles airport early one morning to catch our 8am flight. If you have been to LAX, you understand how long things can take and the need to get there at least two hours early. When we pulled up to check in the car, half asleep and on a cold winter morning, the AVIS service staff saw we had a lot of luggage including a pram, a car seat, and a sleepy child. It was 5:30am and they said they would personally drop us off at the terminal entrance in the car. They were happy to save us the hassle of taking the luggage out of the car, onto the bus and then unload all over again. We gladly took the offer up. I asked them if this was a standard service offer, which they said it was not. It was only offered during slow times. Lucky for us, it was a slow time. If this was a standard offer by any car hire company I am certain they would capture a big part of the family travel business even at a higher average rate to cover any additional costs. What a missed opportunity for AVIS or any other supplier.

It has made me start thinking about catering to families and how this “family values” philosophy would impact golf if applied to our golf clubs around the nation. Would we start retaining some greater loyalty of membership by looking at things through a different set of eyes? A big reason members are leaving clubs is because they don’t have as much time nowadays to play, since both parents are an integral part to raising children. So why don’t we manage to give then some of their time back by offering some basic services that would fill this need? Surely this would result in greater member loyalty.

With our members having more and more family commitments to contend with, what if we all started to offer some of these little extras that were solely focused on a family’s perspective?

Jetstar could have won more of my business if the staff, or the procedures the staff follow, would have put a priority on strollers/prams. When returning a stroller or pram at the oversize luggage terminal on arrival  you think they would get them out to the parents whose kids are running around or falling asleep at the terminal. Instead, all the surfboards and other luggage came out first. If this sounds like whinging, I am. We had just finished a 10-hour flight with a two-year-old who only slept briefly during a 20-hour trip.

So the moral of the story is – try looking through the eyes of your family members. Find a spot somewhere at the club to put up a small playground, like how they do at McDonalds. Parents would love the break of the kid playing while they enjoy a coffee and breakfast. Hold family movie nights where the kids watch a movie and mum and dad have dinner. A night-care facility would go over very well since us parents don’t get out for dinner much anymore!

We get trained into seeking the cheapest deal, but we often get the cheapest service in return. A little extra service made me a RAVING FAN of AVIS. Now go and make your members and guests RAVING FANS of yours.

Written by Mike Orloff, Golf Operation Specialist, Copyright June 2010 Golf Industry Central

Mike can be contacted at (+61)415 682 259