59club’s Spotlight on Service Featuring Philippe Pilato of Le Golf National

Philippe Pilato directeur du Golf National.

Philippe Pilato has worked at Ryder Cup venue Le Golf National for more than 26 years and now holds the position of general manager. He outlines how 59club helped elevate the facility to a top service provider and explains how its processes can help French golf in general.

We have been with 59club since 2016, just two years before the Ryder Cup, and, at that time, we were not able to provide a good service to the visitor, in particular, to international clients. Working with 59club helps us improve our services and the quality of our services.

In 2015 and 16 we were only used to working with French visitors and members. Two years out from the Ryder Cup we started working with foreign visitors and it was clear we needed to improve the quality of our service. We needed independent analysis of our strong and weak points, which is important for both the manager and the team. 

We use 59club’s visitor-experience analysis and the my59 customer survey tool, as we needed to know better the needs and wishes of our clients.

We have many different clients at Le Golf National – we have subscribers, we have players who play one or two times a week, visitors from abroad including a lot from the USA, corporate customers and day guests – and, at the beginning, we didn’t know what they needed or expected when they played here.

We segment by type of customer with the survey tool and it’s very interesting and beneficial to receive the varied feedback it gives us.

When we started with 59club, in 2016, our initial results weren’t particularly good – we’d been geared up primarily for domestic visitors until that point. When we started receiving the results of the visits we shared the information with the whole team – the greenkeepers, the welcome desk, in the back office – which was hugely beneficial and we also started staff training with 59club.

We focused on our strong points, which we knew – the golf courses and the pro shop – and the weak areas, such as the service. We’re in France and it’s very expensive to have a lot of employees. We can’t have the same number of employees on the service side of the business as our contemporaries abroad. We needed to be very strong when the customer arrives in the pro shop because this is the first contact they get with a Le Golf National employee.

Across the five years of testing we’ve seen around a 50 per cent improvement in our mark for the ‘meet and greet’ part of the test, and this comes because, thanks to 59club, we trained our staff to be focused solely on the client. Previously, employees were only focused on themselves; we showed them that the most important person at Le Golf National is not them, but the client in front of them.

We did that a lot; it remains a job we do every day as a matter of course and this is why we have improved substantially since 2016. We are much more focused on the golfers, what they expect, and why they’ve chosen to come to Le Golf National. That simple thing – and the way we were able to do it – is the reason our scores are now so much better.

We’ve also tried to be better before and after the arrival of the client. We achieved more consistency with reservations and written confirmation, and things we did not do before partnering with 59club.

We tried to train all the team to adopt a 360-degree vision – the only job on the front desk is not just to offer a smile and to welcome the golfer, you need to be focused on every point: the car park, the driving range, on the first tee, and so on.

I think encouraging staff to think outside of their own sphere and look at the bigger picture has been instrumental in our overall improvement. Indeed, overall, I believe our average rating is among the best in France. The benchmark 59club offers is showing this with our above-70 per cent averages.

We still have a lot to do when it comes to on-course service because, as I explained, we do not have a lot of people in the marshalling team, the buggy bar, the starter, or speaking to the players on the course and asking if they need anything, for example. This area, admittedly, we can still improve upon and we will improve this aspect of the customer experience. I’m not saying we will be perfect but it will be a better experience – nobody’s perfect.

Much of this can be put down to the expense of employing people in France – as I have already mentioned – but the client expects a certain level, with a starter and a marshal, and somebody to take their golf clubs for them at the end of a round. We do have wonderful employees, really, because on some days we may have 200 people on the golf course and it’s very tough for them with so much to cover, yet our customer satisfaction figures remain good.

I would have no hesitation in recommending the services of 59club because it helps professionalise the service one offers to golfers. I think we need this is France. I recently visited a golf club with three of my colleagues from Le Golf National and was astonished that of the three people at the reception desk, not one looked up and said ‘Hello’ or welcomed us in any way. And that’s the simplest thing to do anywhere in the world.

In France we need to continue to professionalise our service teams because this is often the case at golf clubs in the country. We receive a lot of feedback from visitors to Le Golf National, and, because of 59club and what it does for us, they’re saying the services and quality of service here is one of the best they’ve experienced in France. 

The problem is not the people, it is a management issue. The team needs to know what it has to do and, I believe, in France, they’re not sure what they should be doing, and that comes from the management. People come in, they take the credit card and take 50€ and send them out to the course and the job is done. But there’s so much more to it than that – or there should be. Sadly, in France, people on the front desk are not sure of what they need to do, so there is much training to be done across the industry.

Working with 59club has helped me, personally, to concentrate on the right things and I think that would help many general managers in France. I think it’s a ‘magic’ tool and has helped elevate Le Golf National to where it is now.

For those wanting a proven strategy to retrain and upskill their workforce, measure in-house standards, elevate customer acquisition, satisfaction, and profits, there has never been a better time to engage with 59club.

Visit www.59club.com for more information.

El servicio destacado de 59club con Kristoff Both del Club de Golf Alcanada.

Kirstoff Both en los premios 59club 2021
Iqda-drcha: Dan Walker (presentador BBC), Kristoff Both (Alcanada), Mark Reed (Director 59club) & Simon Wordsworth (CEO 59club)

Kristoff Both, el director del Club de Golf Alcanada, en la isla de Mallorca, cuenta todo sobre su tiempo trabajando con 59club, el éxito que ha tenido y los múltiples galardones de servicio al cliente celebrados durante sus siete años de compromiso.

Todos pensamos, como directores de golf, que conocemos nuestro producto; que no necesitamos que nadie de fuera nos diga si el césped es verde o no, porque jugamos al golf y la mayor parte lo vemos desde fuera.

Pero hay ciertos procedimientos con los que, sentado en su oficina, no siempre se familiariza, que podrían ser los diferentes puntos de contacto: el restaurante, la tienda profesional, el caddymaster o el buggy bar, donde necesitamos saber sobre el amabilidad y profesionalidad del personal.

Entonces, para nosotros, las auditorías de mistery shopping de 59club son realmente productivas, ¡además me sacan de la línea de fuego! No soy yo quien le dice a alguien ‘no creo que estés haciendo esto o aquello’, es alguien independiente y está ahí en blanco y negro.

Una o dos veces al año, también recibimos una formación presencial con un miembro del equipo de 59club cuya experiencia en la industria habla por sí misma, por lo que también es muy convincente y constructivo para el equipo aquí. Tienes un profesional ayudándolos que ha estado allí e implementó esa práctica en la industria.

La mayoría de la formación o la educación superior que recibimos aquí en España no son específicos al golf, pero están dirigidas al servicio al cliente en general. Tener a alguien que hable sobre las habilidades de ventas, la gestión del tee time y la experiencia general del cliente en el golf lo hace más entretenido, práctico y relevante para el equipo.

Como consecuencia, el equipo es más consciente de cosas como la venta adicional y la venta cruzada y, aunque estamos lejos de estar al 100%, es un recordatorio constante de que tenemos que hacer estas cosas, y tenemos que hacerlos mejor.

La herramienta de comparación, donde podemos medir nuestros niveles de servicio y aptitud de ventas frente a nuestros competidores, es muy útil y esclarecedora. No es una carrera, pero es beneficioso poder demostrar y preguntar ‘¿Por qué otros se están desempeñando mucho mejor?; ¿Qué están haciendo diferente? ¿O qué están ofreciendo que es diferente o se percibe como mejor? Aprender de los demás es otra forma en que podemos progresar como equipo y como club.

Creo que el mayor cambio que hemos implementado desde que trabajamos con 59club está en nuestro procedimiento de reserva, que ahora es mucho más profesional.

Cuando observa los resultados de las auditorías de mistery shopping junto con algunos de los otros lugares, debe tenerse en cuenta que algunos lugares tienen personal dedicado simplemente a tomar reservas, por lo que tienen procedimientos diferentes a los del personal aquí que atiende a otras llamadas por teléfono y trata con los clientes en la tienda. Pero nuestras prácticas y confirmaciones en escrita ahora son más completas en relación con la información que contienen.

También creo que ha habido una mejora notable con los caddymasters en la forma en que interactúan con los clientes. De hecho, todo lo relacionado con los puntos de contacto con el cliente ha evolucionado a lo largo de los años que llevamos trabajando con 59club, y los resultados de las auditorías han sido fundamentales en esa evolución.

Tengo muchas ganas de trabajar en colaboración con la nueva división 59club Europe South, encabezada por James Beesley. Me complació saber que proporcionarán documentación traducida al español para el mercado español. Poder darle a mi equipo acceso al sistema, en lugar de tener que traducir todo, lo hará mucho más fácil.

Para el personal que no tiene la capacidad de leer inglés, sería muy ventajoso y beneficioso para Alcanada en su conjunto, tener todo en español. Y me imagino que eso también se aplica a los clubes en el resto del país, para poder trabajar en su lengua materna.

La historia de nuestra relación con 59club habla por sí: llevamos siete años trabajando con 59club y estamos muy contentos. Son muy profesionales y muy útiles en todos los aspectos. Y solo hay que mirar la gama de productos que siguen introduciendo para ver que no es una empresa que se quede parada. Ellos están progresando y, como su cliente, nosotros también podemos avanzar.

Los premios a la excelencia en el servicio comenzaron como un pequeño extra, pero a medida que más clientes se vuelven elegibles y 59club se vuelve más internacional, los premios se convertirán rápidamente en los ‘Oscar’ del golf en Europa; tal como se han considerado en el Reino Unido desde hace algún tiempo.

Siempre es bueno recibir reconocimiento por el arduo trabajo que ha realizado, por lo que apreciamos los premios 59club. También hay un elemento de competencia entre colegas en otros lugares que se conocen desde hace tiempo, por lo que se suma al atractivo.

Es alentador para el personal ser honrado con un premio: Alcanada es actualmente un destino con bandera oro de 59club, el galardón más alto disponible para el desempeño de un lugar. Es un gran logro que se nos mencione al mismo tiempo que los lugares que se consideran los mejores del juego.

He estado en el sector durante unos 20 años, y en mi 18.º año en Alcanada, lo que es muy importante para mí es no quedarme quieto, y los productos de 59club me ayudan a estar alerta y al tanto de lo que sucede y está disponible en la industria.

Tenemos que seguir buscando formas de mejorar y cambiar las cosas, y 59club me ayuda a hacerlo. Me anima a mirar por los rincones y no hacer las cosas como siempre se han hecho.

Si tuviera que resumir 59club en una palabra, sería “progresivo”: siempre está progresando y superando los límites, y eso, a su vez, empuja a sus clientes a lograr más, lo que beneficia a toda la industria del golf.

Anexo: Un año después de trabajar con 59club, Alcanada recibió una bandera de plata en reconocimiento a su excelencia en el servicio y, posteriormente, ha sido reconocida todos los años desde entonces, culminando con una designación Gold Flag.

Para aquellos que desean una estrategia comprobada para volver a capacitar y mejorar las habilidades de su fuerza laboral, medir los estándares internos, elevar la adquisición de clientes, la satisfacción y las ganancias, nunca ha habido un mejor momento para comprometerse con 59club.

Visite 59club.com para obtener más información.

59club’s Spotlight on Service Featuring Kristoff Both of Club de Golf Alcanada.

Kristoff Both at the 2021 Service Excellence Awards
From L-R: Dan Walker (BBC Presenter), Kristoff Both (General Manager CdG Alcanada), Mark Reed (Director 59club), & Simon Wordsworth (CEO 59club)

Kristoff Both, the director of Club de Golf Alcanada, on the holiday island of Mallorca, tells all about his time working with 59club, the success it has borne, and the many customer-service accolades celebrated during their seven-year engagement.

We all think, as golf managers, that we know our product; that we don’t need anybody from the outside to tell us if the grass is green or not, because we play golf and we see most of it from the outside.

But there are certain procedures that, sitting in your office, you don’t always get to grips with – that might be the different touchpoints: the restaurant, the pro shop, the caddymaster or the halfway house, where we need to know about the friendliness and professionalism of the staff.

So, for us, 59club’s mystery shopping audits are really productive – plus it takes me out of the line of fire! It’s not me who is saying to somebody ‘I don’t think you’re doing this or that’, it’s somebody independent and it’s there in black and white in front of them.

Once or twice a year, we also receive an on-site teaching seminar with a member of the 59club team whose experience in the industry speaks for itself, so it’s also very convincing and constructive for the team here. You have a professional helping them who’s been there and implemented that practice in the industry.

Most of the seminars or further education we can get here in Spain are not specific to golf, it’s for customer service in general. But to have somebody talking about retail skills, tee-time management and the overall customer experience in golf makes it more entertaining, hands-on, and relevant to the team.

As a consequence, the team is more conscious of things like upselling and cross-selling, and, while we’re some way from being on it 100 per cent, it’s a constant reminder that we have to do these things, and we have to do them better.

The comparison tool, where we can measure our service levels and sales aptitude against our competitors, is very useful and insightful. It’s not a race, but it’s beneficial to be able to demonstrate and ask ‘Why others are performing so much better?; what are they doing differently? Or what are they offering that is different or perceived to be better?’ Learning from others is another way we can progress as a team and as a facility.

I believe the biggest change we have implemented since working with 59club is in our booking procedure, which is now far more professional.

When you look at the results of the mystery shopper audits alongside some of the other venues, it has to be borne in mind that some venues have staff dedicated to simply taking bookings, so they have different procedures to the staff here who are answering other telephone calls and dealing with customers in the shop. But our written confirmations and practices are now more thorough in terms of the information within.

I also believe there’s been a noticeable improvement with the caddymasters in the way they interact with customers. Indeed, everything around the customer touchpoints has evolved down the years we have been working with 59club, and the results from the audits have been instrumental in that evolution.

I’m looking forward to working closely with the new southern Europe 59club division, headed by James Beesley. I was pleased to learn that they will be providing documentation translated into Spanish, for the Spanish market. To be able to give my team access to the system, instead of me having to translate everything, will make it a lot easier.

For the staff who do not have the ability to read English it would be hugely advantageous, and beneficial for Alcanada as a whole, to have everything in Spanish. And I imagine that goes for clubs in all other countries, too, to be able to work in their native tongue.

The history of our relationship with 59club speaks for itself – we have been working with 59club for seven years and we’re very happy. They’re very professional and very helpful in all aspects. And you only have to look at the range of products they continue to introduce to see that it’s not a company that is standing still. They’re progressing and, as their client, we can progress too.

The service excellence awards began as a nice little extra, but as more and more clients become eligible and, as 59club becomes more international, the awards will quickly become the ‘Oscars’ of golf in Europe; just as they have been regarded in the UK for some time now.

It’s always nice to receive recognition for the hard work you have done, so we do appreciate the 59club awards. There’s also an element of competition between colleagues at other venues who’ve known each other for some time, so that adds to the allure.

It’s encouraging for the staff to be honoured with an award – Alcanada is currently a 59club gold-flag destination, the highest accolade available for a venue’s performance. It’s a great achievement for us to be mentioned in the same breath as venues which are regarded as at the top of the game.

I’ve been in the business for some 20 years, and in my 18th year at Alcanada, so it’s very important for me not to be standing still, and products from 59club help me stay alert and abreast of what’s happening and available in the industry.

We need to continue looking for ways to improve and change things, and 59club helps me to do that. It encourages me to look around corners and not to do things the same way they’ve always been done.

If I had to sum up 59club in one word, it would be ‘progressive’: it’s always progressing and pushing the boundaries, and that, in turn, pushes its clients to achieve more, which is of benefit to the whole golf industry.

Addendum: One year after working with 59club, Alcanada received a silver flag in recognition for its service excellence, and has, subsequently, been recognised every year since, culminating with a Gold Flag designation.

For those wanting a proven strategy to retrain and upskill their workforce, measure in-house standards, elevate customer acquisition, satisfaction, and profits, there has never been a better time to engage with 59club.

Visit 59club.com for more information.