Resisting New Smart Technologies is Risky Business for Resorts and Golf Courses

How long does it take for you to abandon a website because it’s buffering or loading slowly? If your patience lasts only a few seconds, don’t worry, you’re in the majority. According to a recent Google study, 53% of mobile users will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. Suffice it to say, our expectations for seamless technology are high. 

With more and more homes connected to digital technology, employing devices like Alexa or controlling the TV and thermostat from a smartphone, consumers now expect leisure properties like resorts and golf courses to provide the same level of integrated smart technology as they have at home. 

For instance, a fast WIFI connection is no longer a perk in the hospitality industry. It’s an expectation. If properties go without it, then they can expect less-than-stellar reviews to roll in — just as soon as guests can find a WIFI signal. 

Some resorts and golf courses are adopting new technologies, but the hospitality industry overall has been dragging its feet.  Companies are reluctant to change from already established procedures because it involves switching to unfamiliar systems, taking extended time to implement infrastructure, new training, high costs, and risk.

However, as technology continues to creep into every aspect of our lives, those not willing to adapt and implement new systems may be taking an even greater risk.  

Smart Advances

While some golf courses now have drones delivering drinks on the green and other resorts use mini robots to provide room service, upgrading your smart technology doesn’t necessarily mean you need to employ a fleet of friendly droids to make an impact. You simply need to implement smart technologies that match what guests have come to expect.

Start by connecting your services to guests’ smartphones. This means developing a mobile-friendly website that enables guests to easily book their stay, remotely check in and check out, and utilize their phone as a room key rather than the traditional plastic card. Again, if your website services are slow to load on mobile, then you’re likely hurting your bottom line. The same Google study mentioned above also revealed that websites that load in five seconds earn twice the revenue compared to sites that take nineteen seconds to load. 

New smart technologies have also made their way onto the golf course, elevating player experience, engagement, and enjoyment of the game. The move from manual to digital tee sheets, carts equipped with GPS and course maps, LED touch screens allowing players to order food and beverages right from the cart, plus mobile apps like Trackman so golfers can analyze the trajectory, speed, and height of their microchipped golf balls, all play a role in ensuring golfers will choose to return to a particular course again and again.

Leveraging Data 

The move towards smart technology doesn’t only benefit the guest. Staff equipped with smart watches can lose the walkie talkies and move freely throughout a resort, staying better connected to employees and management while attending to guest’s needs more quickly and efficiently. Robotic lawnmowers and remote-controlled water systems on golf courses save time, money, and resources.  

However, the biggest asset you’ll see from smart technology is data. Data helps create a comprehensive picture of your guest — their wants, needs, and preferences. Personalized experiences make guests feel valued. Knowing that a certain guest likes having extra towels or another has a favorite meal at the clubhouse shows guests that they are listened to and appreciated. 

And if you’re concerned that consumers will feel like these changes are leading to a Big Brother-level invasion of privacy, a study conducted by American Express found that “83% of millennials would let travel brands track their digital patterns if it would provide them with a more personalized experience.” 

This degree of personalization also expands into getting guests into your resort or onto your golf course. Through targeted marketing utilizing social media, email blasts, and tailored itineraries, you’ll be able to reach the right consumers quickly. Those who are able to successfully analyze and leverage guest data will see happier consumers and business growth.

The resistance and challenge to integrating smart technology remains in the cost, training, and time involved in implementing new systems. However, those who make the initial investment will not only stay relevant among their competition but will also see more growth potential, connection, and engagement from both guests and staff.

Frank Jermusek

Frank Jermusek, J.D.

President / Managing Director

Frank Jermusek is a Principal at SVN | Northco headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. SVN has become one of the most recognized commercial real estate brands in the world with over 200 offices globally.