"If any tee times do open up, like last Thursday when we had an event cancel, we sent out a push notification and sold out in about 12 minutes."
- Trevor Secundiak, Manager of Tournaments and Sales at Kananaskis Country Golf Course
I had a great time speaking with Trevor Secundiak, Manager of Tournaments and Sales, at Kananaskis Country Golf Course in Alberta, Canada. Trevor has had huge successes since implementing a custom-branded mobile app at his club since their reopening. This is a unique property that 36-holes of golf and has around only 5 months of the season. They grew their app downloads by over 50% last year and continue to see an increase of around 55-85 downloads per day. Check out some tips and tricks Trevor has picked up along the way.
Holly: Tell me about you and your position at Kananaskis Country Golf Course.
Trevor: I am the Manager of Tournaments and Sales, which involves all the marketing aspects of the golf course. We had a flood in 2013 that shut us down for 5 years. When we decided to rebuild, I came on board to relaunch the sales office, relaunch the marketing plans, and really get a good handle on the corporate sales. Now, our golf course is going into its 4th season this year.
Holly: How did you come across Gallus Golf?
Trevor: I actually knew about Gallus Golf from a previous golf course I was at in Saskatchewan. As we were getting ready to relaunch the golf course, we took a really good look at all the marketing options that were out there when it comes to tee sheets, applications, website, marketing, everything from front to back really, and we chose Gallus Golf. We did notice the technology at the NGCOA conferences over the years. Gallus was quick on the responses and the customer service was excellent. So we knew this is what we wanted to go with and it fit the bill for what we were looking for.
Holly: What marketing tools stuck out to you in the app?
Trevor: It was definitely the GPS feature. The GPS is a really good tool that we could put together and save cost by not putting it on our golf carts. We do have a strong following in the Province of Alberta, but we wanted to directly communicate with people who were interested in hearing from us. Gallus with the push notifications especially, was an easy way to do just that. The GPS and Live Scoring for us is one of the more popular tools we use especially when it comes to corporate tournaments, groups, or even family reunions. Everyone loves to see where their group is on the course and how they are fairing up against their friends and family members - especially for bragging rights. Having the ability to direct people that we want to target to any Offer Locker or anything like that was huge.
Holly: So would you say Live Scoring and GPS are the most popular features amongst your golfers?
Trevor: You know, it's really interesting. Because we only have a 5 month season in Western Alberta, our different areas of the app are just as popular at different times of the year. So this time of the year, when we open, finding a tee time is the biggest feature. We have a very busy 36-hole golf course. If any tee times do open up, like last Thursday when we had an event cancel, we sent out a push notification and sold out in 12 minutes. Having that ability at this time of the year is fantastic. Now as we get into the heat of the season, we really push our food and beverage side of things. We put our menu on there and people have easy access to what they want to do when they go into the restaurant after their round. In post-season, this is when we do a big gift card push for Christmas. We have a plan when it comes to our app over a 12 month period where we know what we are going to push and when. Being in our fourth year of having it, we know exactly what is getting hit at what periods of time over the year. All that comes down to is pulling analytics and reports.
Holly: Do you adjust your app based on these reports and analytics?
Trevor: I look at that analytics page every month. You can easily see what's hot and what's not. If you do have something that isn't gaining the traction and attention as much as something else, you know what, try something different and replace it. You can do it at any given time and really customize the marketing for what your people want to see.
Holly: Would you say your engagement varies by different groups of people?
Trevor: It changes throughout the season. One of the unique things about Kananaskis is that we don't have any members. We don't have 500 people who download the app once and keep it on their phones. Constantly new people are coming in and going out. We have the ability to reach out to a whole new demographic of golfers every day. We definitely keep that in mind when it comes to the marketing side of things.
Holly: How do you promote your app to all these different groups of people on a regular basis?
Trevor: Our strategy with the app at this time of year, when bookings are starting to happen, is putting a link to download the app in our confirmation emails. So when anyone books a tee time, the confirmation emails will take you right to the app store and you can download the app. In season, our on-course ambassadors and staff are absolutely phenomenal. We don't do a lot of print material or anything in the restaurant, but our people around the facility are constantly telling people about the app. Whether it's "Hey, we don't have GPS on the carts, download our app, and here is where you can find it" or just telling someone at check-in, the word of mouth is key. We did some stuff with our Cart signs but our people are the biggest ones. Last year, we were averaging anywhere from 55 to 85 new downloads per day which has given us tremendous growth. After we have them download the app, it's up to us on the marketing team to stop people from uninstalling it. Promote fantastic information and fantastic products.
Holly: Was it hard to get your staff to adopt and take on the app?
Trevor: They were on board from the get-go. Our staff is very vocal with all of our guests and the customer service the app offers makes their experience better. With myself personally, I would check the downloads every day to see how much we would do. It was almost a challenge for our different teams to see if they could do better than the week before. It turned into an internal competition among everyone. Having over 10,000 downloads when we started the season with 4,800 was really cool to watch. The number isn't going down either - it is continuously growing even more into the off-season.
Holly: You mentioned that you try to keep people from deleting the app when they leave the property. What do you do in a marketing sense to help with this?
Trevor: We have done some targeted offers. For example, with our league nights, we will offer a food and beverage voucher and in order to get it, you have to have the app. We will target that voucher into their Offer Locker. We also try to not send too many push notifications. We don't want people to say "this is irrelevant to me" and uninstall the app so we are pretty cautious. In the season, we do a little bit more, especially when tee times do become available. Within the season, it's all about finding a tee time and booking one. When times open up, people want to be the first to know. We promote the app so that people who download the app and say yes to push notifications will be the first people to know of these tee times opening up. It's all in the messaging. Before we go on social, newsletters, or anything like that, a push notification gets sent and they are the first to know. We continue to promote the app as a being-in-the-know type of thing and people continue to pay attention so they don't miss out on an opportunity. We sell the app as "we aren't going to send you things that don't matter to you." If you want to know when the first tee time is, we are going to let you know.
Holly: What is YOUR favorite feature?
Trevor: Personally, I love the GPS feature. Being out here for a few years already, I love how accurate it is and the touchpoints that allow you to see how far the hazards are. From a tournament organizer standpoint, the scoring features are phenomenal. In my position, I like being able to change the app and create the Home Page however we feel the need to use it during certain times of the year. I love the Offer Locker, now we don't do a whole lot with this, but we do use it for league nights. It is an easy way to get 40-50 new downloads every league night if you're throwing something in there that will reward them for downloading the app.
I'm really excited about the Driving Range. I knew about it and a lot of questions our driving range attendants get is how far is this flag or that flag. Our driving range pad is about 32 stalls long and the pins from side to side might be totally different distances. We are going to use this feature a lot this year. I'm super pumped about being able to get out there and see the response from this newer feature.