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June 2018 Industry Report

In two weeks, the U.S. Open will be held at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, New York. Did you know? Shinnecock Hills receives almost six more hours of daylight per day when comparing the winter solstice (shortest day of the year) and the summer solstice (longest day of the year). With warmer weather comes the opportunity for more play on the tee sheet. See: www.USOpen.com.

An experiential generation

In a world that seamlessly merges the virtual with the real, Americans thirst for travel has never been stronger. In fact, according to a Harris Group survey, 72 percent of millennials (defined as anyone born between 1981 and 1996) would rather spend cash on travel, music festivals, and one-of-a-kind events than cars and homes.

One of the more creative “experiences” I’ve run across during my travels is the upcoming Grand-Con at Sea Island Resorts.  Mirrored after the highly successful Comic-Con in San Diego, Grand-Con invites grandparents to spend an extended weekend with their grandchildren at The Cloister, while enjoying bonding activities that bridge the generational gap. I think it’s a novel idea. Most private clubs/resorts have a long list of activities for parents and their children to enjoy. Few pay special attention to grandparents…who are more likely to have the time and financial resources to attend such events. See: www.SeaIsland.com.

Perceived value

Last month, Amazon raised the price of its annual membership in Amazon Prime from $99 to $119 – or a 20% increase – with hardly a whimper of protest.

Imagine the uproar from members (for private clubs) and meeting planners (for resorts) if overnight, you raised prices 20%.

Why was Amazon so successful? It all comes down to perceived value. Consumers can quickly calculate that for $119/year, they receive free 2-day shipping, unlimited movie streaming, and a bounty of services from Alexa. Amazon gives the impression consumers are getting a “steal” of a value.

The lesson to be learned? Are you explaining in a clear, easy to follow message, the services and amenities provided with monthly dues/room rates.

A hint of inflation

McConnell Golf has 4,000 members, belonging to 14 private clubs, spread across a 400-mile range from the rolling hills of Tennessee to the coast of South Carolina.

The combination of a family inclusive culture and stronger economy is paying dividends with growing membership rosters and increasing revenue per member.

One dark cloud on the horizon is labor costs, particularly in agronomy.

Golf course maintenance requires a special skill set whose shoes can’t be filled by seasonal college students. For most golf facilities, if it’s a snow/rain day, staff is sent home, resulting in lost pay.

Understanding the importance of a steady paycheck, all full-time McConnell Golf employees receive guaranteed benefits and hours. The rub? Lower turnover and increased job satisfaction has led to a stronger company. See: www.McConnellGolf.com.

Teeth of the Dog

Casa de Campo Resort in the Dominican Republic features the famous Pete Dye designed Teeth of the Dog. More than 300 Dominican workers hand-carved the course from a rugged coral landscape. Upon hearing the workers refer to the sharp coral rock with its canine teeth as “diente de perro” (which means teeth of the dog in Spanish), naming the course Teeth of the Dog seemed fitting. More: www.casadecampo.com.do.

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