Use Member Guest as a Marketing Event

Krause_Brent-whiteBrent Krause, the 2002 PGA Horton Smith Award winner and the 2007 PGA Golf Professional of the Year, is a PGA Master Professional, general manager and director of golf at Wynlakes Golf and Country Club in Montgomery, Ala.

You can have a member-guest or you can have a memorable event. At Wynlakes, we have turned our member-guest tournaments into events through the use of themes. This makes them into marketing events, and increases membership sales. It’s all about driving value, and it’s working. By including our member-guests in our marketing budget, we’re able to invest in theme-related activities and take our event to the next level. My favorite so far was our Wynlakes “WynWay Park” Homerun Derby, held on the driving range with the staff in umpire uniforms. We rented industrial lighting to make the range look like a ballpark. Wives, dates, and other fans cheered on their favorite “jack hammer” as they hit balls out of the park; that was fun. For our Party on the Moon theme, we built a replica rocketship. That’s right, a 10-foot high metallic silver sheet metal projectile! And, our band for the event was “Party on the Moon” from Atlanta, Ga. During the golf portion of the events, we use a professional LED digital scoreboard, so players feel they’re at a professional tour event. Team pictures, names of players, and the respective flights are scrolled on the big board. The members get into the themes, too. Last year, we had four attorneys come walking into the club dressed as Rickie Fowler lookalikes.

At a member-guest, we have a captive audience of roughly 100 members who are really, really proud of their club. That’s 100 ambassadors for our club, and who are they going to bring? Some will invite former members who are thinking about returning and some bring prospective members. 2013 should be terrific: the WynBayou Cajun Fest! We typically underwrite our member-guest. Our entry fee is only $595, but if we did it to break even, we’d have to charge $1,000 or more. By running the member-guest as a marketing event, we’re able to invest the money to create an incredibly successful event that drives membership sales. About six percent of our marketing budget goes to the member-guest; It’s an investment, not an expense. If we pick up four to five members, and you look at the lifetime value of a customer, we reap the dividends. In the last seven years while private clubs were struggling to retain members, we saw a net increase of 17 members. If you consider the lifetime benefit to the club of those members, including annual membership fees, cart fees, merchandise sales and food & beverage, we more than make back what we’ve invested in these events.