Sun City (Ariz.) Country Club and Valqari are teaming to test the use of drones and lockers for on-course food-and-beverage delivery. In this edition of C+RB’s video series, we see the system in action and get input from Jamey Lewis, Sun City’s General Manager, and Ryan Walsh, Co-Founder and CEO of Valqari, on the full possibilities for this service enhancement.
“The Road Back” video series from Club + Resort Business provides fresh insights into how club and resort properties have met the challenges posed by the pandemic and found new and innovative ways to boost business levels and return to full operation.
This episode highlights how an unlikely grouping—food and beverage, drones and lockers—are coming together at Sun City (Ariz.) Country Club. Jamey Lewis, the club’s General Manager, and Ryan Walsh, Founder and CEO of Valqari, have been working together on a system that will help deliver food and/or beverages—and also pro shop merchandise if requested—to designated lockers that are placed strategically on the golf course.
The system being tested has golfers place their orders via an app. Then, with the push of a button, a pre-programmed drone transports the requested items to a secure locker on the course. As seen in this episode, the drone then places the delivery on top of the locker, where an “elevator” lowers it into a designated compartment, waiting for the golfer to retrieve it after being sent a code with notification that it’s ready for pickup.
Lewis doesn’t see this as a replacement of the beverage cart, but rather as a supplement to service.
“It’s just a win-win for the customer needing to be fed during a four-hour round of golf and for the club—versus us having to wait and just cross our fingers and hope that they’re going to come in and utilize our restaurant,” he says. “In addition to creating new efficiencies in our operation and turning heads because it’s so fascinating, it also gives us the option of sending out hot food directly from our kitchen.”
Walsh notes how drones are an ideal fit for this type of application on golf courses, because optimum flying conditions pair well with when activity will be the greatest and extra service will be in demand.
“We’re testing with a number of different drones, to make sure that we can get the ranges and longevity we need from them,” he says. “But most drones these days can go quite a few miles and back, so while golf courses may be spread out, they tend to be rather ideal.”
The system has been designed to handle weights up to the equivalent of “four tall-boy beers for a foursome of golfers,” Walsh adds. “That was the heaviest out of everything we tested, including golf balls and food items.”
Michael Miller, an industry executive, is also involved as a consultant on the project.
“We’re just trying to identify ways that can help to create a new golf experience for today’s golfer, and trying to develop platforms for facilities and clubs to generate additional income through this kind of service,” Miller says.
(Viewing time: 17 minutes)
Previous episodes of “The Road Back” can be viewed at https://clubandresortbusiness.com/category/the-road-back/
Upcoming episodes will highlight one club’s “Beyond Outrageous” indoor mini-golf course setup, and how another club has built up an extremely active takeout F+B program and plans to continue its growth, even as members come back on site.
If you have a great idea or success story you’d like to see featured on a future episode of “The Road Back,” contact email@example.com.