How Golf National solves its business challenges after the Ryder Cup?

By: March 22, 2021

Paul Armitage left the club not so long time ago as the general manager of the Golf National. His successor is Philippe Pilato. He has been at Golf National for 25 years, almost since the day it opened.

Le Golf National 18th green 2018 Ryder Cup

That’s why I thought I would interview the new general manager, as I did with his predecessor before.

Does Golf National have a recovery plan for the post-COVID-19 period?

Yes, initially the business model was built for the international market. Due to the covid-19 crisis, we were forced to change our plans.

We refocused our plan on the domestic market, did a lot of communication work, maintained our customer service quality requirements, and reorganized our HR.

Regarding our communication plans, a collaborator of our staff was appointed specially to develop and ensure an increased presence on social networks. We have focused on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

The results were immediate. You can see our progress on Facebook in the graph below. The grey line at the bottom represent 2020 and the line in blue represent 2021.

Le Golf National Facebook page performance

In terms of the HR reorganization, all areas are involved and we have more than ever committed to multi-skilling and cross-functional work.

The closure of the golf course once a week allows us to put the whole team together on the same days and be more efficient when the activity is high.

How are you mitigating your golf club’s losses due to the coronavirus?

First of all, we have reorganized our operating system. We are now closed one day a week. This has allowed us to reduce the costs, optimize HR and maintain our quality of service without having to recruit

What has the Golf National achieved in terms of digitalizing its business so far?

We are generating more and more business online. Thanks to yield management, we have more and more customers who buy online. This represents almost 35% of our green-fees turnover.

We also provide our customers with an online shop. We are able to do more business through this and our aim is to develop it.

Our future e-commerce plans are linked to an evolution of our website which is currently an “information site” and which I wish to develop into an e-commerce site.

In fact, today we have an information site on which we sell, and I would like to propose a sales site on which we will give information.

Le Golf National 6th hole

How do you define an attractive driving range experience? What are your plans?

The driving range experience must be both fun and allow those who wish to do so to train effectively. At the Golf National, major works are currently underway.

The French Federation is building a performance center for its top players both professionals and amateurs. It will normally open at the end of September.

We will have a studio with the TrackMan system, an indoor putting laboratory, and a physical fitness center. We have already opened a wonderful short game area with tournament facilities.

In addition, we provide TopTracer equipment for our customers to practice in a playful and entertaining way.

How do you reduce the importance of discounts on green fees, pro-shop prices, etc.?

To avoid giving discounts, we segment the offers. Yield management is another key to manage the discounts.

We continue to invest in customer service, work hard to build customer loyalty, and of course, maintain a high quality of play all year round on the Eagle and Albatros course.

Le Golf National 1st hole 2018 Ryder Cup

Do you have a strategy for the employee experience

As far as employees are concerned, we are lucky to highly-experienced staff.  We train them with the help of the European Tour Destination team.

We give them regular feedback on the activity, we value their achievements. Both for the grounds maintenance team and for the customer service team.

How and to what extent are you able to customize your services?

This is something we need to develop and improve on. We want to segment our communication, our commercial offers….

With the help of 59club‘s services, we regularly send out customer surveys to find out about their expectations and their needs, in order to understand if our offers and services are adapted.

One member of our staff is involved in writing-creating, analyzing, and reporting the results.

What are your objectives and projects for the next 5 years as the new GM of Golf National?

We have many challenges to face. The first of these is to maintain the momentum we built after the Ryder Cup.

We will also host different big events such as the French Open, the World Amateurs Championship in 2022, the Olympics in 2024.

Besides, we would like Le Golf National to be the flagship of environmental sustainability.

In the end, we have the ambition to develop the performance center and supply top French players with the very best training facilities.

The French Federation’s ultimate goal is to have more French players in the top 20 world-ranked golfers.

Thank you, Philippe Pilato for the interview.