Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Loyalty Program 2010 - Part 4

Happy New Year!

This is the 4th part of our discussion on new loyalty system for 2010 and beyond. As per your requests we have developed a draft of the new point system for your review. Please consider the following items as you review the new system:

  1. The basic loyalty program is still free and available to all who wish to participate.

  2. Points will now be earned for every dollar spent except for lessons. This includes food and beverage, merchandise, and the driving range.

Loyalty Member Program 2010 - DRAFT

  • Entry Level – Free
    Standard tee time policy, 1 point for every $1 spent, Eclub list

  • Silver Level – Annual fee at the introductory price of $125
    Standard tee time policy, 1 point for every $1 spent, 450 points at signing, Eclub list, Invitation to Loyalty Events, $5 off green fee for each play (certain restrictions will apply)

  • Gold Level – Annual fee at the introductory price of $199
    Standard tee time policy, 1 point for every $1 spent, 700 points at signing, Eclub list, Invitation to Loyalty Events, $10 off green fee for each play (certain restrictions will apply), Employee Pricing on all golf shop merchandise (cost plus 10%)

Proposed Point Reward Program

250 pts: 9-hole weekday round at any golf course
300 pts: 18-hole senior weekday round at any golf course
350 pts: 18 hole weekday round at PV, RW, LV; 9-hole weekend round at any course
400 pts: 18-hole weekday round at ND, NW
450 pts: 18 hole weekday round at HG, LB, FR
500 pts: 18-hole round Friday Any Golf Course
600 pts: 18 hole round Saturday, Sunday, Holiday at PV, LV, RW
650 pts: 18-hole round Saturday, Sunday, Holiday at ND, NW
700 pts: 18 hole round Saturday, Sunday, Holiday at LB, HG, FR
1,000 pts: - $100 Gift Card OR Member Package (Includes an 18-hole round of golf anytime at any course, free range balls for the day, free dozen Titleist Balls, free lunch, free glove, and free hat)
1.500 pts: - $150 Gift Card OR Weekday Foursome any golf course
2,000 pts: - $200 Gift Card OR Weekend Foursome any golf course
2,500 pts: - $250 Gift Card
3,000 pts: - $300 Gift Card OR Players Package (1 pair DryJoys Shoes, 1 Titleist Stand Golf Bag, 1 Dozen ProV1)
5,000 pts: - $500 Gift Card OR a set of Titleist AP2 Irons or Cobra S2 Irons (set of 8 irons in steel or graphite)


Joe said...

Do the points go away to zero upon redemption or do they stay so I can earn a set of irons? Seems like a great program with having more rewards than before other than golf. I was able to pay for up to 4 people and earn 4 points per day, is that still ok or can I earn more now?

Dude said...

How long is the "introductory price" going to be available?

You refer to the "Standard tee time policy," what is the non-standard tee time policy?

I like what you have come up with.

Keith Miller, Executive Director said...

Joe - yes the points do reset after you redeem them for an award but you do have the option to save them for an higher awards if you wish. We are still working on some of the details about earning points.

Dude - We have not made a final determination on the length of the introductory price period but we will let you know. There is no other tee time policy right now but we may consider something in the future.

Bob said...

Thanks. You've helped me become more loyal to non-Montgomery County courses. Seriously, are you out to build a loyalty program or to rack up the dollars?

Camille said...

Really, Bob? This sounds great! If you already play a lot at MCG courses, then you are getting stuff for free, hence the "reward".

Formula155 said...

Do the $5 and $10 dollar discounts on the greens fees for the silver and gold levels respectively apply to 9 hole rounds?

Formula155 said...

And same question about discounts for 9 hole rounds played as part of a league.

Pops said...

Would the points earned carry over to the next year or be reset to zero at the beginning of each year ?

Anonymous said...

At a couple places in the proposal it says the reward will include x-amount of dollar off the usual greens fee but adds "certain restrictions will apply."

Curious what the restrictions might be? No reductions on holidays or something like that?

clp150 said...

I'm sure it will turn out fine but for me it appears to triple the number of rounds needed for a free round.

For example, Poolesville is my home course. I play 18 holes for $16 with a players pass, $20 without (walking). Under the old plan I get a free round to use on any Montgomery Cty Course (very nice!)every 5 rounds or $80 with players pass,$100 without .

It now appears that I will have to spend $300 to get the same benefit.

mrbobk1943 said...

I like to old program you just doubled the rounds to get a free round. Seem to be going the wrong way for loyalty. May not be playing your courses as much next year. Why the change??? expand if you want but the old program was fine, if it is not broke don't fix it.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with clp150 and mrbobk1943's comments. The amount of money required to be spent to qualify for free rounds of golf seem to be ridiculously high. For these point tiers to be fair, I feel that they should be cut by at least half of what they're proposed at currently (e.g. 18 hole rd on Sat/Sun/Hol at LB/HG/FR should be 350 pts).

To be completely honest, If I have to spend $700 at MoCo courses to be able to earn a free round at one of the "higher tier" MoCo course, I think I'd be less inclined to be "loyal" to MoCo courses.

E said...

it seems like more dollars spent to earn a round to me. i played a lot of MCG golf this year because every 6th round was free. from the point system displayed, I would have to double the number of rounds played to earn one free play. not impressed.

Tom said...

I agree with clp150 and mrbobk1943. I like the old program, getting a free round for every five. Setting the points required for a free round at 350 on up seems too high for weekday rounds. I like the concept of getting points for all dollars spent (including drinks and nine hole courses) but the proposed rewards take too many points and may lead me to look to play at other courses.

Keith Miller, Executive Director said...

Points - We are still working on the final details but as of now points will not expire each year but may expire if an account remains inactive for a period of 6 months.

Restrictions on Discounts - Again we are working on the final details but as of now the only limitation would be that the discount cannot exceed 50% of the green fee. You will receive the discount on 9-hole rounds but with the above stipulation.

Rounds needed for free round - It is very difficult to compare this system to the old system because you are now receiving points for each dollar you spend. So technically you do not have to play a round of golf to receive a free round. If you purchase a full set of clubs you may have enough points to get a free round. The point system is based on the awards being approximately equivalent to a 10% rebate on the money you spend.

Jim said...

So if I'm walking 18 holes on a weekend afternoon, paying about $45 at courses other than HG or LB, it will take me 14 or 15 rounds to earn a free one under this new, improved program. Two years ago it took 5 punches in my card at the various courses to accomplish the same thing. This year it would have taken, what, 8 or 9?

This is better for me how?

E said...

last year i played a lot of discount rounds with - they offered every 10th round free, in addition to deep discounts on each round. When I discovered MCG's 6th round free deal. I became very loyal, very quickly. Under this new program, average players like myself, that don't really buy equipment, etc at the course, really aren't getting a good incentive to remain loyal. I will definitely keep my eyes open for deals elsewhere if this is going to be the new "deal"

clp150 said...

Thanks for your response Keith - "It is very difficult to compare this system to the old system because you are now receiving points for each dollar you spend"

It is not difficult at all for me to compare this system to the old system because I use the County golf courses almost exclusively to play golf, not for shopping or dining.

While I'm glad that the new system may benefit others, it certainly does not benefit me or others who utilize the County course in the same way that I do.

SteveW said...

This does not seem like a very good deal. Especially it makes no economic sense to pay $125 to get additional benefits.
Assuming $50 per round, to earn two free rounds, you must spend $1200. That would be 26 rounds total (24 + 2 free) or $46.15 per round.
If one joins for $125 earning a $5 discount per round, you must spend $750 to earn enough points for two free rounds. At $45 dollars per round that will get you 16.66 rounds plus two free = 18.66 rounds total. However, you have to spend $875 total to do this. Per round, that is $46.89, a little bit more than not joining at all. So what is the incentive to pay $125 to join, the priviledge of being invited to loyalty club events? No thanks.
The existing system is clearly better as free rounds are earned much sooner.
Steve W

Alan said...

where can I find the value of points - for example if I have 2000 points what does that provide?

what are the 2010 rates? and do the $5 or $10 discount apply to senior rate?

Alan said...

where can I find the value of points - for example if I have 2000 points what does that provide?

what are the 2010 rates? and do the $5 or $10 discount apply to senior rate?

Pops said...

The idea of being rewarded for spending our money at county golf facilities is great but I think I speak for the majority of players that frequent the county courses when I say that we are not likely to be buying new sets of clubs at these locations. What we want is a fair reward for frequently playing the county courses. That being said it is quite apparent we were better off under the old system.

Anonymous said...

This is really punitive compared to last years program. Last year you would get a free round after 5 rounds irrespective of the price of the round. For a senior like me I usually play for around $30 for 18 holes. That means that under the new system I have to play twice as many rounds to get a free round, that is 10 rounds. This really stinks. Guess I will be playing at other courses is this goes into effect.

Aileen said...

Wow, this doesn't appear to be any kind of deal. I don't see any kind of incentive when currently I get a free round after five rounds. I do not spend the kind of money it would take to reap much in benefits.

schnej said...

I think the proposed changes to the system are awful. I play 25-30 rounds a year at MCG courses and I use to earn a free weekday round (which is the only time I play MCG courses because of the unbearable pace of weekend play)after every 5 rounds. Now I'd have to spend between $350-$450 to earn 1 round at any course. How can you sell that as a "loyalty" program?

avidduffer said...

Two years ago, you play 5 rounds at any course and get a free round at any course along with entry into the year end tournament. There were many good e-club deals.

Last year, you play 5 rounds at any course and get a free round at any course but you had to pay for the cart. There were few e-club deals.

With the 2010 program, I will have to play 12 - 15 rounds to get a free round. Looks like a great improvement but I could always buy a new set of clubs or 70 hot dogs and sodas and get a free round. Sounds like a great program. You may as well scrap the whole program. It is so much cheaper to go north and pay less at nicer courses.

krackstraw said...

I agree that it looks like a pretty poor deal for seniors or weekday players, and perhaps a bit better for others who play alot of rounds per year (25 or more). At at $52 per round (Needwood, walking, weekend), I would need to play 12 rounds with a few buckets of balls to get a free round versus 8 rounds in 2009. There certainly isn't enough incentive to buy clubs at an MC pro shop versus other options with much greater variety and more focused sales staff. I'd make use of the loyalty program, but it's a definite step backwards in my view. I'm wondering if the county found last year's program too expensive to maintain.

krackstraw said...

Oops, in contrast to my post above, I guess it was a free round after every 6 rounds (6 points) at Needwood. Maybe it's different at different courses? In any case, that just makes the new program even worse in comparison to the 2009 program.

jxl2 said...

I agree with those above who think the 2009 points system is better than the proposed 2010 system of points for dollars spent. If you want to improve the loyalty card system for the PLAYERS, I suggest you keep the old system (5 points=1 free round), but add in half points for 9 holes played. Also allow carryover of points from one year to the next, which we could not do this year. Additionally, bring back the year-end shoot-out; total number of rounds played to be determined for eligibility. Combine the best of 2009's rules and the former Montgomery County 'Tour' rules.

SteveAbram said...

Your loyalty program needs a lot of work. Us weekend warriors get nothing out of it. We cannot play enough to make it worthwhile, where as there are other courses that offer loyalty programs where the fifth punch entitles you to a free round of golf. Another one gives you a free round on your birthday. Another one will, for a ONE YEAR commitment, allow you to pay $55 a month and get all the range balls you want, $15 twilight rates and half off on weekends and holidays.

How are you going to compete with these other golf courses?

Baldw said...

For Seniors on fixed incomes (NO SOCIAL SECURITY RAISE IN 2010!!)you had a very good deal in 2009 - Play 5 and the 6th one is free. WHY ARE YOU CHANGING IT ???

Roger Baldwin

Also I have 5 points on my current card and have not been able to get my free round because of the SNOW - What happens to these 5 points??

parisagoodscore said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Keith Miller, Executive Director said...

Thank you for all of the feedback. Please remember that we are using your feedback to make a final decision. Our goal is to continue to improve our system and we can only do that successfully with your input. Some of you seem upset by the proposed program but I urge you to remember what our goal is and nothing is final. Please continue to provide the feedback but also add your suggestions on what we can do to make it better. Lastly, I encourage everyone to remain professional with your posts.

parisagoodscore said...

Since Mr. Miller has chosen to censor my last post, I will try again with "suggestions". When he censors this one as well, I will send it to the Montgomery County Council representatives who should understand the kind of people operating their government sanctioned golf monopoly.

I suggest that you consider what MCRA's purpose is.

I suggest that you think about the fact that you are using county land without paying any rent or contributing anything to the county budget.

I suggest that you remember the fact that your entire purpose is to SERVE the residents of the county.

I suggest that you lower your prices. I suggest that you offer resident discounts. I suggest that you have a published schedule of greens fees. I suggest that you do more to support junior golf. I suggest that you lower your overhead costs in an effort to give better value to county residents.

I suggest that you abandon a "membership" style rewards program. I suggest that taking value AWAY from residents by lowering the value of your rewards program is in direct conflict with the purpose of your organization. I suggest that you take your highest level rewards program and make it free to all residents of Montgomery County.

Keith Miller, Executive Director said...

Parisagoodscore - It seems you have blocked your identity and therefore I am not able to contact you directly. I did censored your previous post because it did not respond to the discussion and it was not factually accurate. It seems you have some concerns regarding the operations of the MCRA and I would welcome the opportunity to have that discussion with you. The purpose of this discussion it to develop a loyalty program with the input and feedback of the golfers so we can improve the system. Please let me know how I may contact you to further discuss your concerns.

Bob said...

I'm glad to see that others did the math too. Going back to my January 7 post, you are going in the wrong direction. Keep it simple. I play, I get a card punched. The card never expires. After X number of punches, I get a free round.

And drop this silliness that LB and HG take more points. Yea, some people will pay for cheap rounds and then go play an expensive round for free. So what? Does it cost you more if they play a nicer course? Indeed, some of us play LB a lot and then might use the free round elsewhere, so it evens out. Don't be cheap if you are trying to attract repeat customers and build loyalty.

Bob said...

Adding to the jxl2 comment, the expiration of the card this year was simply ridiculous. I finally reached the level to get a free round at the end of November, then it snowed, got cold, snowed again. Then the card expired.

You can't be loyal to me as a customer, I won't be loyal to you.

parisagoodscore said...

I am happy to discuss this in a public forum Keith. I assume you took issue with my comments on Sligo Creek. The only thing that could have been construed as inaccurate in that post was that the county is subsidizing your operations to the tune of $6 per round. I based that statement on the fact that the Montgomery County Council approved a payment of $150,000 to the Revenue Authority to keep the course open from October 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010. This was under the direct threat of the course being closed as of October 1st. So, tell us how many rounds Sligo does between October and the end of June. I would guess no more than 25,000....which would equate to a $6 per round subsidy from the taxpayers of Montgomery County to the revenue authority. If my estimate is low then all apologies.

I acknowledge this post is entirely off topic. I would welcome you opening a new blog post explaining why the revenue authority is unwilling to use its profits from other courses to support Sligo.

Dien said...

This Loyalty program does not encourage me to play more at all. 600 pts for a free weekend round? That's 10+ paying rounds, are you kidding me? But I guess it's better than nothing. Times are tough so we'll be cutting back on golfing this season. ONLY fee discounts will entice me to open my wallet. The Loyalty program however, is as they say online... *yawn*, *eye-roll*, *smack palm on forehead*.

-rollover points
-lower requirements for free rounds
-free t-shirt/towel/hat day! (club logo on item for free advertisement)
-free practice range bucket day!
-free hotdog day!

Lot of *free* huh? Unfortunately, that's what it will take for us to play more this season.

Ryan said...

Keith, I think your program is a good one. It seems lie a pretty fair system. I've never availed myself of the old loyalty program, although I played HG, NW, LB, and FR this year on a few occasions. Frankly, I didn't know one was available and I didn't play any 5 times, so I wouldn't have qualified, anyway.

It seems to me that the crediting is fairly similar to the plans offered in stores and credit cards -- 1 point for every $1 spent. Touchless Car Wash offers the 11th wash free after 10 paid washes. So, I'm paying $190 to get a $19 benefit. Doesn't sound too far off from what you're proposing here.

And your prices are fair -- the Cobra S2s are a little more than $500 and I get them if I spend $5,000.

I get that when you change things, there will be a vocal outcry, especially if you're reducing a benefit. Also, most of us younger folks (I'm 38) don't mind if you have a senior benefit that is better than what we get (so, if they get a 20% discount on greens fees, then they should get a 20% discount on rewards, maybe?).

Membership rewards are a great way to retain and remind golfers. I use Dick's Sporting Goods instead of Sports Authority almost w/o thought because of the rewards points I get from the former.

ParisGoodScore: take a deep breath, let it out slowly. Repeat. I suggest that you probably don't run an entertainment business, so enticing customers who have infinite choices of what to do in their spare time isn't a priority of yours. I do agree that some of the prices can be a bit high, but they are pretty competitive with other courses. And if you lower your prices, you are guaranteeing that you lower your revenue for each round played, whereas if you offer member rewards, it's like having a coupon and not using it -- just having the opportunity to get a reward makes people more likely to buy in the future, and I argue that it certainly makes them more loyal.

So, Keith, my thoughts:
- reasonable rewards
- love the eAlert to prices for the weekend/weekday
- appreciate the work you do
- think you'll get the most vocal opposition from the most active groups because they lose the most benefits
- agree that perhaps residents should pay less than non-residents
- really would like to see your rates posted on the website for each course (that's long overdue)
- don't agree that you should do away with loyalty programs

Ryan said...

Sorry for the lack of error-checking:
Should have been "I think your program is a good one. It seems like a pretty fair system."

Greaney53 said...

I get a penny a buck from AE, rather have play 5 course's for a free round. Don't bring back the punch card this way duplicate courses can be saved and use in the future.

James said...

This plan needs to be simpler and you need to offer better rewards for more loyal customers.

1. People that pay premium prices on the weekends should earn a free round sooner than Joe Retiree who plays on Tuesday. And walks. I dont know where the "5-round" thing came from. At the end of last year I had 11 or 12 (I think) points, and that was NOT enough for a we round + cart at Falls Road.

Make it like Vegas, "high rollers" should get treated right. For example, the point-to-gift card line is linear in this proposal. If you want people to spend big bucks, the rewards have to accelerate faster. If 2500$ = $250 card, $5000 should equal a $750 card (or more).

Kevin said...

Keith -

I recall filling out surveys at the end of last season, and one of the questions asked concerned a true "membership" to MCG courses. Is that ever going to happen?

I (and I assume others) would prefer a one-time fee to play unlimited golf at just one course for the season, and as a bonus maybe a 5% discount at other MCG courses.


phil said...

KEEP IT SIMPLE. There is a lot of competition out there in this economy and I do not think you will get many to buy in to this complex system. Once you buy a card you then have to turn down invites to other courses, hence no card sale. With the standard free membership, I can "sell" the idea to my buddies on a particular weekend, to play a MCG course because they can get the free membership. The multi-tier membership takes the wind out of the sails of the free membership, reducing it to "poor-cousin" status.
Pet-peeve: denying points or credit to anyone playing a discounted round (e.g. twilight, senior, tourney-round, etc.). By denying such credit, it undermines the enthusiasm of the program.
I am in the design profession and a rule-of thumb that always works: "when in doubt, simplify it"
Phil E.

Bill said...

Overall, the old system is best. The only ones who seem to benefit from the new plan are those who spend in the pro shops and eateries, in addition to playing a round of golf. I believe that is a large minority of county golfers. The old plan is best, simplest to follow and maintain, and should be retained.

Keith Miller, Executive Director said...

Thank you for the continued feedback and input. We are in the process of reviewing all of the comments and will be sending out a revised program shortly. Please continue to provide the feedback because we will consider all of the comments as we develop the next phase. Remember we are trying to improve our current program and your feedback and input will help us do that.

Kevin who made a comment about the annual membership. What is the price that you would be willing to pay for such a benefit?

Also we will revisit pace of play soon so that we will have a new program before the season.

Bob said...

Keith - I look forward to your revised program. In the meantime, I am curious about the comment that you will revisit pace of play soon. To be honest, to make me a more loyal customer of your golf courses, how many points I can earn or whether I get a free round are not nearly as important as whether I can play in 4-4 and a half hours. I might tolerate 5 on weekends, but I won't go near a County course now on a weekend as 6 hours is more the norm. Fix that, and I'll be back.

Kevin said...

I think if you look at some of the courses in the area:

Redgate: $1700
Univ of MD: $2700
Blue Mash: $3700

I think something in the $2200-$2500 range (for courses like Northwest & Hampshire Greens) would be reasonable.

I also think pace of play is HUGE. Marshals should be on the course to push people. There is no reason for anything longer than a 4.5 hr round. If you fall behind that pace after 6, 9, or 12 holes ... your group should be forced to pick up and go to the hole where you should be. You do that once, and people will stop playing slow. I know you'd be worried about losing business to people who get mad about being forced to skip holes -- but I think more people would play MCG courses knowing a 5 hr round is the absolute MAX.

phil said...

I think the slow-play concerns are very real and since we are talking about "rewards" and other discounts, I have always wondered if it would be possible to give $5 or $10 refunds on the spot, if you finish your round in under a specific amount of time, say 4 1/4 hours. This might help rally those on the course with a tangible incentive for a brisk pace. Another idea is to offer a thirty minute "course" that teaches techniques and ideas for playing quickly. Any one who takes the course is then "certified" and eligible for a discount on their greens fee.
Just some ideas.
Phil E.

Bob #2 said...

I agree that simpler is better, so keep the punch card system. Last year's was especially good because, unlike before, you didn't have to spread out the rounds among five different courses.

But even a good thing can be improved, and I agree with several of the suggestions here: allow half-credit for 9 holes; grant a full credit for any full round, even if paid with a senior or other discount; allow points to carry over into the next year.

If you want to offer a paid membership, do so in addition to the punch card system. The majority of players probably will not want to shell out money for a frequent player program.

Most memberships in the area are way too expensive, several thousand dollars a year. Mr. Miller, if you want a good model, look at the Patriot's Pass program offered at Stonewall in Virginia. I don't remember the exact details, but for a couple of hundred bucks, you get unlimited(!) free(!!) play for three months in the winter, a good percentage discount, either 10 or 20%, for all other rounds for both you and your guests (a key feature); a free appetizer on the day of the round; and a discount at the golf shop. That kind of program would really attract participation.

I agree pace of play is a real problem, and Falls Road on weekends is the worst offender. Empowering--heck, requiring--the marshals to enforce pace of play rules will certainly help, but will only take you so far. Marshals are not cops, and they didn't sign up for their low-paying jobs to confront customers. The real solution is to spread out the tee times, 10 maybe even 12 minutes apart. I realize that means fewers rounds per day, but I suspect you'll find your business will actually increase because golfers will have a quality experience even on the weekends.

Finally, I agree with the comments about keeping the criticisms in perspective. MCG does a really good job for us all. We have a nice selection of well-maintained, interesting, moderately priced courses. Not many jurisdictions come close to this service. Tone down the whining folks.

Pops said...

I just want to say that I agree with everything Bob2 had to say. I think it is especially important to have the marshalls on the course do their job and keep players moving along at the expected rate of play.

FM said...

Bob#2. An "Appetizer" ? Are we playing golf or going to lunch ? "Spread out tee times" ??? If you are behind a group taking 5 1/2 hours to play 18 holes, guess what ? You are also going to be on the course for 5 1/2 hours !!!! When you get to eight, pick up the ball and move to the next hole. Why do you want a nine ? Last summer we spent those hours on almost every MC course. Mr Miller, let's be frank. You are not going to get the volume of play you are seeking charging $60 to $70 to play a Needwood for 5 1/2hrs. Our group moved to other courses two years ago when you lowered the value of your program. We will probably do so again this coming summer. Your program as it's proposed discounts a tee time to us about $ 3 per round. We play all year, every week possible. Not much of a savings. Spend 5 1/2 hrs. on Needwood for $60, or search for a more challenging venue. I wonder which we will do ?