Tue Jan 13 2009Golf Generation Why?
(Originally published in Golf Business News - September 2008)
Golf operators are currently experiencing an interesting time with the convergence of three different demographics that need to be catered for at the same time. These are:
Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y
As golf facility and club operators you must be in tune every day with what your clients need - be it public, members, social or group golfers. In the current economic climate, you cannot afford to lose any hard-earned loyal business. The challenge is trying to keep these three different generations of clients all happy at the same time. This is easier said than done!
Baby Boomers were born during the years 1946 to 1964 (44-62 yrs old in 2008)
Generation X were born during the years 1965 to 1980 (28 -43yrs old in 2008)
Generation Y were born during the years 1980 to 1994 (14-27 yrs old in 2008)
Your business will be more successful when you market your products specifically to each demographic need. Define your current membership and client base by doing an informal survey to better understand their wants and needs. You cannot change your operation to suit everyone, but you will gain a better understanding of the core essentials to a happier facility, and they will feel like they were listened to.
It is much easier to look after your current membership or client base and not try and grow your market, but if you don't try and attract new members and guests through creative processes, the market will pass you up and facilities will start going bust.
There are many crossovers between what services each generation is looking for from a golf club or facility, but they each do have some distinct requirements that help them decide where they will join.
Baby Boomers - The National Golf Foundation (NGF) in the US reported that: "Although their average rounds are lower due to increased job and family responsibilities, baby boomer participation rates are actually a bit higher than that of the previous generation. Moreover, the sheer number of baby boomer golfers on the cusp of retirement bodes well for the industry."
So are you ready for them? Is there enough access to play golf each week with a respectable pace of play? What type of food and drink are you offering? Do you have enough carts for all players who want one?
Generation X is typically more family centric, so facilities that cater for this will get a bigger market share. What is your facility environment like? Is it welcoming and does it cater well to females and juniors?
Has your facility been upgraded or do you have any plans to do so in the near future? If so, find some extra space to turn into a 'kids area' so whether parents golf or not, they can still visit your club for a meal and the kids are excited about going.
Generation Y is technologically savvy and need to be targeted differently. Send them competition results, tee times and offers via SMS. How strict are you with dress codes and are you stocking different styles in your pro shop that are for the different generational needs?
At the end of the day you must be flexible enough in your operations to cater for different players. Try to have a good cross-section of members who represent each demographic on your boardor at least on a subcommittee.
Managing different generations can be a tough balance but if you succeed you will grow your participation and membership levels, and we still have not even touched on Generation Z!
(This story to be continued…)
By Mike Orloff, Director- Golf Industry Central
Copyright Golf Industry Central September 2008