Remember the song Anticipation by Carly Simon? I heard it the other day on satellite radio on the Music from the 70′s station and it got me thinking about the power of anticipation! Think about it yourself. What do you eagerly anticipate? Is it that special dinner, the Saturday round of golf, the weekend getaway trip, or the day off just to relax? Well, regardless of what it is, it is looked forward to and keeps you going! So ask yourself this. Are you creating Anticipation in your club or resort offerings? Are you keeping it fresh and regularly trying new things? Do you brainstorm with your staff for new ideas? Are you willing to step out of the box? Are your events really special or just called special because that’s what you have always called them.
Three Types of Experience Providers
In my conversations and visits to clubs and resorts I see three pretty distinct types of experience providers:
Things are done at these clubs/resorts because that’s the way it has always been done. They do everything the same way on the same dates with the same format every year. They are either scared to step out and try something new, don’t have the skill set to do so, or are just plain not motivated. The word lazy comes to mind.
These people know that they should try some different things, but change doesn’t come easy to many people. So, on occasion, they will put a twist on an event or even try a new event. But they are quite tentative and more concerned about why something might not work versus devoting the planning, energy, marketing, and execution to make it work.
This is the group that creates fun, entertainment, and eager anticipation. Franchises are good example of this and this is a big reason that the success rate of franchises is so high and the success rate of individually owned businesses is so low. Walk into almost any franchise and your senses are bombarded with information about food features, drink features, loyalty programs, and an upbeat atmosphere and energy created with music, lighting, props, and smartly uniformed, smiling staff.
There is a buzz and a sense of arrival. Why is there a sense of arrival? Because something is going on! And the savvy operators have something going on every day, in some cases every hour. What’s going on in your club or resort today or tonight? What do members/guests point to and plan to attend all week? What’s creating the “buzz” this week? What’s new? What’s exciting? What is creating intrigue, interest, and ANTICIPATION?
I recently stayed at an Embassy Suites. They have a complimentary cocktail hour from 5PM to 7PM daily. I had a meeting in the lounge area near the bar and as 5PM approached people began appearing from everywhere for the party. There was a buzz. It was clear that a great majority of these people were eagerly anticipating this event all day. I was looking forward to it myself. Attending the PGA Show in Las Vegas I noticed that the sushi bar in the Mandalay Bay Hotel had $5 sake and $5 sushi rolls from 4PM to 7PM weekdays. A great deal for a high end restaurant in a high end Vegas casino. Our party of four attended and had a great pre- Jersey Boys show snack, even though the Sapporo beer we also had was $13 for a bottle.
Returning from an out of town trip last week I stopped at a Fridays because it was one of the few places open at 10:30PM. Not expecting much I was overwhelmed with all of the options they had for drinking and dining, and even though the bar was not crowded, there was a great sense that I just arrived at a party put on just for me. I had special appetizer options, featured drink choices, it was happy hour, there were featured entrees, a great vibe from the music, and college basketball tournaments on all the dozen or so televisions. I was also given a calendar of the upcoming events for the next month.
With my check, I was given a website address to access for a free appetizer on my next visit as they were also trying to capture data from their patrons. I had not been to a Friday’s since they served steak on a stick when I was in college, but was back in this one 3 nights later. And, I have several of their menus and promotional pieces to share with our partners.
So how can I get this happening at my golf club or resort?
It’s not hard, but like anything worthwhile it requires work and the desire to do so. Brainstorm with your staff, get feedback from your members/guests, visit franchises and other clubs/resorts in your market. When you travel on business or pleasure take notes, pick up menus and other collateral material, and then DO IT! You can start simply with things like a wine tasting, a business networking event, a single malt whiskey tasting, a candlelight dinner with music on a particularly scenic hole on your golf course, a sushi chef for a sushi night monthly, a demo day, night golf, or special entertainment.
You can kick it up with a turn back the clock golf event with knickers, wooden shafted golf clubs, and gutta percha golf balls. Challenge you members/guests to take a tour of European countries by providing a selection of 5 beers from each country over 10 months. Provide custom club/resort logoed mugs and specialty glasses or other promotional items from the brewers of the beers you select. Get creative, maybe even a little crazy. People seek unique and fun activities and if well carried out, are willing to pay for them.
We’re in the Entertainment Business
Clubs and resorts face fierce competition and consumers who are becoming more judicious with their spending. Simply being a private club, having a well designed and maintained golf course, and having a great resort facility is not enough. Clubs and resorts must evolve to succeed and continually creating new events and activities and a sense of arrival will logically lead to ANTICIPATION of what’s scheduled and what’s next! So where do you fit? If you’re not an Innovator, make the choice to become one today. You can do it if you simply decide to dedicate the necessary effort to do so.