Know Your Competitors

Bryan Haas, the 2008 Iowa PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year for Resort Facilities, is the PGA director of golf at Blue Top Ridge at Riverside Casino & Golf Resort in Riverside, Iowa.

In the tournament and outings business, you’re competing with all the courses in your area for a limited number of potential clients. I’ve found it very useful when courting new clients to make a point of learning about what our competitors can offer in order to structure our marketing approach. For instance, as the only resort facility in the area, our competitors are more public/municipal courses. As such, we make a point of explaining what we can offer our clients that other courses cannot, and always put emphasis on our full-service, white-glove approach. For us, an important factor is that we have our own resort catering, and as such can cater our own events rather than force the client to hire an outside catering service (which only adds to the cost of an event as you factor in hiring more companies). Moreover, we make sure to tell clients the services that we can offer to non-golfers who are attending the outing, such as our Golf Performance Studios, casino, the spa, restaurants and shopping venues. We can incorporate these into the events as well, and often offer to set up massage tables for before or after play. For companies to justify the cost of an outing today, they have to make sure a facility has activities for everyone involved, so be sure to focus just as much on the non-golf as on the golf, and this can often set you ahead of your competition.

When it comes to attracting new clients, how you market your facility is often the deciding factor, and we can no longer sit on our laurels and think our Golf Magazine-ranked course is enough to bring in events. Knowing what our competitors can and cannot offer helps us structure our marketing approach to highlight the areas that make us more unique, bringing in more clients who desire more than just a game of golf, and who want full-service treatment. With this approach we’ve already pre-booked 25 percent of our total projected rounds with events for 2009.