Mike Beverly is the PGA Director of Golf Operations at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill, in Prattville, Alabama.
I feel it is important to increase rounds each year without having to offer discounted rates. At Capitol Hill, we achieve this by increasing the perceived value of the experience for the customer, by offering the RTJ (Robert Trent Jones) Trail Card. The RTJ Trail Card is a customer incentive card available to Alabama residents, as well as residents of neighboring states who live within 100 miles of a Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail location. There are currently 25,000 RTJ Trail Card holders. We have worked hard to fill the open tee times that we have during our slower summer months. About nine years ago, we implemented “Trail Card Appreciation Days” held from Memorial Day to Labor Day, where we offer a five-play card to Trail Card holders at no extra cost. The Trail Card holders receive a gift each time they play during June, July and August. Gifts range from hats to socks and the fifth visit is usually a sleeve of Pro V1s. The wholesale cost of the gifts range from $4–$10 each for a perceived value to the customer of more than $20. Besides filling tee times, this allows us to thank our customers for their patronage and when they fill up one card, they receive a new card. Once Trail Card Appreciation Days are over and the busier fall season arrives, customers pay the same rate they paid all summer and that is the benefit of not discounting rates.
Using the broader Trail Card database of over 25,000 golfers, we save on advertising costs by emailing potential customers. From 2015 to 2016, sales of Trail Cards increased at our facility by nine percent, and word of mouth helped get information out about our Trail Card Appreciation Days. Rounds increased by four percent over that time frame and greens fees and golf car revenue increased by almost six percent. With more customers at our course, there is a residual benefit to all other areas of the club, as food & beverage serves more lunches, our golf shop sells more hard and soft goods, and our practice range sees more players practicing and warming up before their rounds. Saying thank you to your customers doesn’t have to mean discounting rates.