C+RB’s inaugural Awards for Member Communications/Websites recognize Victory Ranch for creating a multi-pronged approach to keep its members up to speed on all things happening at the club; and GreatHorse for building a responsive and easy-to-navigate website and the GH Dashboard, a new private URL for members to access at their convenience.
The December 2019 issue of Club + Resort Business features the 2019 Innovation Awards, recognizing club and resort properties that have conceived and implemented concepts that have paid real dividends in the form of enduring member and guest satisfaction and loyalty.
These properties were recognized for innovative achievement in the Member Communications / Websites category:
A typical country club often struggles with member communication. Spread that club over 6,700 acres of pristine countryside, and you have potential for people to feel lost—literally and figuratively.
At Victory Ranch in Kamas, Utah, communication is key, so the club worked with Clubessential to create a multi-pronged approach to keeping members in the loop. After all, with such an expansive property, there is potential for families to go their own ways.
Because of Victory Ranch’s unique land-conservancy mission, it’s also important for the club to communicate to the outside world. For that reason, the property’s communications strategy operates on two separate planes—one for members, and one to the outside community.
“It’s not just building big homes,” says General Manager Michael Bratcher. “Our blog helps to share how we use the club, and how we see the club’s mission.”
A central program allows club members to have private dialogues, discussions and share pictures with each other. But they’re busy people, and not always at the property. That’s where the team at Victory Ranch steps in. “A little push notification with a short clip talking about this week’s activities, whether it’s a featured artist at the lodge, snow conditions, fishing reports, or anything in the backcountry—all of that is really critical to members,” Bratcher says.
Victory Ranch’s dedicated brand team also makes sure the club is represented through a consistent voice that is always in step with its mission.
When users start to browse www.greathorse.com, the award-winning website of the former Hampden (Mass.) Country Club that was rebranded and reopened as GreatHorse under new ownership in 2015, they are first greeted by a custom video banner that showcases highlights of all that the property has to offer.
The home page was designed to appear “neat with systematic grids and smooth lines, with an immediate feeling of comfort as you browse through the pictures,” reports Kayla Turowsky, GreatHorse’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator. The news page and social-media scrolling banner “easily consolidate all of our media coverage in one spot, so our audience doesn’t have to travel far to see our online presence,” Turowksy adds.
To provide “an exclusive sneak peek” of the inside of the GreatHorse clubhouse, the website features a virtual tour of the galleria that provides “a visual representation of walking through the front doors,” Turowsky says. “This small tease of the ambience gives prospective members an idea of our mountainside getaway and why we are so different, while only showcasing a small portion of the facilities, to protect the exclusivity of the club,” she notes.
The GreatHorse website was overhauled, Turowsky says, after the club noticed that its weekly e-mails and mailed newsletter weren’t getting much traction. “Having a younger membership, it’s important to adapt to the changes of our target audience,” she says. “With this new generation, when people want something, they want it quick and at their convenience. We thought [we needed] a new communication model that better delivers our services and important messages, and rolled out a new website exclusively for members that includes all club information.”
The GreatHorse website is responsive and easy to navigate on any device, as well as interactive with almost every scroll-over, Turowsky notes.
In addition to the front-facing website, GreatHorse also offers the GH Dashboard, a new private URL for members to access at their convenience. “This custom website was built purposely from the perspective of a member, and is organized visually by amenity,” Turowsky says. “Once you choose the amenity you’d like to learn more about, the page will lead you to a secondary web page that lists all hours, staff, promotions, descriptions, and even a form to make an appointment or reservation. It’s quick, easy to navigate on any device, and gives members the answers they need, right when they need it.”
While most members access the GH Dashboard website on the go, GreatHorse also has it displayed on devices that are spread throughout the clubhouse in sitting areas and other “lounging” spots, Turowsky notes “[And] if we are accommodating a member or their guests overnight, a tablet is placed in each room, so they can see for themselves what’s going on at the clubhouse during their time on site,” she adds.
“As soon as you enter the clubhouse, an iPad is on display for you to scroll through the Dashboard, so you’ll never have to worry about missing out on any clubhouse news,” Turowsky says.
“By having the GH Dashboard, we introduced a new form of communication that better fits [members’] lifestyles,” Turowsky reports. “We have noticed an increase in services, as well as more awareness of club events and updates, all by steering away from classic e-blasts and creating a more effective process of communication.
“Moving forward, we plan to continue to use our digital dashboard, but are also in the process of creating a custom GreatHorse phone app for members to download on their phones,” she adds. “We take pride in continuing to change our communication methods to the needs of membership.
The GreatHorse website recently received recognition from Summit International Awards, an organization that acknowledges innovative and creative concepts, strong execution and user experiences, and the ability to communicate and persuade through a wide range of platforms. The international awards are determined by a professional panel of judges from Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, and South Africa, as well as the U.S.