You've probably heard of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the famous self-help book written in the late 1980s by Stephen Covey.
I was thinking about the book recently and realized that a lot of these habits apply to golf courses and resorts.
It turns out that five of Covey's seven "habits of highly effective people" can also be seen as "habits of highly effective golf courses and resorts."
Take a look at these and let me know what others you'd like to add...
As far as I'm concerned, the first rule of customer service - not just in travel but in any business - is: "Keep the customer informed." The resorts who put themselves in their guests' shoes tend to communicate best and clearest. Here are a few examples of great proactive behavior:
- Informing guests -- during the reservation process -- of any maintenance issues
- Sending upcoming guests an email with events and activities for the days of their stay
- Offering to pair a twosome with another twosome in order to smooth out pace of play
- Pre-marking players' scorecards with cart-path-only holes on a morning after overnight rain
- In case of a mix-up or mistake, not just apologizing but giving some info as to what's being done to rectify the error
"Put First Things First"
Some resorts seem to be hell-bent on trying to please every possible type of visitor - buddy groups, families, business travelers. These different groups have different expectations and needs, and can sometimes mix like oil and water. What inevitably happens is that property concerned with attracting everyone ends up delighting no one.
What makes Mike Keiser's developments - Bandon Dunes, Cabot, Sand Valley - so unequivocally successful is that they all seem to spring from one guiding principle: "Build the best possible golf courses and people will come." If you want to attract golfers, and you build world-class golf courses, chances are you're going to succeed.
Yes, the leisure business is just that: a business. But I can't help but think that the nickel-and-dime tactics some resorts seem to deploy actually hurt their balance sheets in the long run by annoying some guests into seeking R&R elsewhere.
Let's be honest: is charging $15 for a yardage book really so necessary that you want to give up the chance to create warm-fuzzy feeling that golfers get when extras like a yardage book and a bag tag show up in the golf cart, included in the guest fee? Those facilities make golfers feel special and enrich themselves by creating strong repeat business.
This is especially crucial when it comes to booking both the golf and lodging for a trip at the same time, or with the same person. Highly effective golf resorts have well trained reservations staff who are as well-versed in golf operations and tee time bookings as they are in lodging concerns. Likewise, a golf staffer who can help make you a dinner reservation is a great ally.
"Sharpen the Saw"
Trends are constantly cropping up and dissipating. Golfers' behaviors are changing. Yet some courses and resorts seem to be stuck in 1995. "Highly effective" courses and resorts aren't afraid to implement new ideas and seek feedback from their clientele. Six-hole rates. FootGolf options. Relaxed dress codes. Not every new initiative becomes permanent, but the inclination to experiment is a sign of attentive leadership, which makes for a better guest experience.
What are the most important "habits of highly effective golf resorts," in your experience? Please do us the honor of sharing your thoughts in the comments below!