The game of golf has seen significant changes over the past few decades and so have the people who play it. Once stuck with the stigma of being stuffy and elitist, golf is now showing signs of getting younger, more inclusive and available to players of all abilities.
As a result, what was expected of a golf course in the past – in the way of customer service and player experience – is changing at the same rapid rate. In phrase: the days of focusing only on turf conditions are coming to an end.
In this 59club Spotlight on Service, we head to Mallorca, Spain to catch up with Bernat Llobera, Area Golf Director at Arabella Golf who echoes the importance of providing exceptional customer service across the board, and uses 59club’s industry leading services to objectively evaluate their customer experience, drive continuous improvement, and establish a club-wide culture of service across their three golf properties on Spain’s largest island.
“We see nowadays that it is not only about having a course in great shape. It is about a journey, a full experience.” – Bernat Llobera.
For Llobera, identifying growth opportunities – for revenue and service operations – begins with understanding the experience from the player’s perspective. Working with 59club has made that objective infinitely easier through regular mystery shopping services at Arabella Golf.
“59club’s evaluations are incredibly valuable assets as they provide a client’s perspective which resembles a real guest experience,” said Llobera. “The objective insights provided by 59club are far more valuable than internal assessments. The ‘extra bonus’ is being able to compare ourselves, our three courses, and the ability to compare this to the wider industry benchmarks. And once we have identified areas for growth, 59club’s training and education services allow us to make improvements to our systems and protocols extremely quickly.”
Llobera went on to say identifying and fixing problems as they arise is only half the battle. A commitment to continuous improvement must be the driving force behind changes to customer service protocols.
“Once we receive our evaluation results, we immediately sit down to discuss them as a group,” said Llobera. “We look at everything from comments and images to objective ratings and begin to identify trends and long-term solutions, something that wouldn’t be possible if every team member wasn’t completely committed.”
That commitment to improvement at Arabella Golf, and regular training through 59club has created a culture of customer service at the club. Employee training sessions are completed every year in many aspects of hospitality service, including phone skills, upselling options and retail protocols.
“Our team members love the training sessions,” said Llobera. “It’s clear to see that everyone takes them seriously and strives to improve. The common feedback from the team is that 59club knows and understands the intricacies of the business, and from what I know, there is nothing that can be compared to what 59club offers. Most recently 59club training sessions have been instrumental in improving our reservations department – often the first impression with your customer.”
Another goal for Llobera this year? Pick up a few awards.
“We were extremely proud of all three of our properties’ recognition at the most recent Service Excellence Awards, with Son Muntaner leading the way with a gold flag,” said Llobera. “It encourages you to keep working hard. Ultimately, our team members are the ones who create an incredible golf journey for our guests, so it’s especially gratifying to see the entire team recognized for their commitment and hard work.”
The age old saying goes, ‘that great managers lead by example’; and 59club are quick to point out that Llobera was recently invited into 59club’s Eminent Collection, joining only twenty-two managers spanning 59clubs global territory – and the very first in Europe – having achieved this international benchmark of excellence, which recognises the finest individuals who are leading the industry in the customer experience realms.
Eligibility into the Eminent Collection is based solely on achievements across the 59club Service Excellence Awards, with individual and team accolades, along with property flag designations, all contributing towards the Eminent Benchmark of Excellence; measuring performances over a minimum of 5 years.
Golf experience in Spain is being elevated by managers such as Llobera who seek analysis and feedback to support their team to strengthen their proposition in the marketplace. The advice that he would give to other club managers in Europe and across the wider golfing landscape is that “59club’s wide range of services and solutions improve the business, and therefore, the bottom line. Through personal experience they understand the golf operation and the hospitality industry better than anyone we have met before; they are a great support specialising in customer service; I highly recommend them and their services.”