FAQs About Country Club Websites
Why does a private club need a website?
Its all about communications. Websites for private clubs are much different than popular high-volume sites like Amazon and eBay, with whom many of us associate when we think about websites in general. Websites for clubs have a much different and more important mission, to improve communications between members, board, management and staff. Today, all businesses are expected to have a website; clubs need websites too, not only to enhance communications but to project to prospective new members that they are indeed serious about keeping current with the trends of society.
How important is communications for private clubs?
Well, consider that in corporate America the reason most often cited for the failure of a manager is inadequate communications. Not for lack of technical skills, not for lack of hard work, but because they failed to communicate. How does that relate to the private club industry? The average term of a club manager is reportedly something less than three years. That's half of the average for managers in corporate America, and corporate America has been thoroughly focused for years on improving communications between management and staff.
We already have a newsletter; do we need a website too?
Most newsletters are monthly and the news published in them is typically two months old the day the newsletter is delivered in the mail. That kind of timing was okay for news in the olden days before CNN Headline news, email and the internet. But by today's standards the newsletter is pretty slow. What about the player who shot a hole-in-one today? Wouldn't it be cool to show her photo on the website the same day? And what about the great buy the chef found this morning on Maine lobster? Wouldn't it be super to let members know about the lobster special tonight? Or, how about that rumor that surfaced the other day? Wouldn't it be great to publish the facts today to squelch the rumors in short order? These are just samples of how a website can speed up delivery of timely information and to make the club experience more gratifying for members and a great investment for the club.
Would the website replace our newsletter?
No. In fact, the newsletter would be published on the website and can be emailed to members as a means of reducing the cost of printing and postage. Some clubs are actually planning to stop printing and mailing of the newsletter. Instead, members who are not on the internet can pick up a copy at the club, printed from a club computer.
Would the website replace our membership directory?
No. The membership directory would be published on the website. The website provides a major benefit here by prompting members quarterly to update their own personal information directly on the website. Say goodbye to outdated email addresses!
Can we afford this?
Yes. As a pure exercise in ROI calculation, the website will reduce costs while increasing participation in club activities. Check with your accountant too, because as a software investment, the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) may permit capitalizing the initial expenditure for development usually a good thing from a budgeting standpoint.
Are there other financial benefits?
Yes. There are certainly benefits that will accrue that are tangible but difficult to quantify. For example, consider the value to the club of filling in last minute cancellations for events that are sold out. Or the added impetus to come to the club for dinner in response to a special email promotion. These all have a direct financial benefit to the club that can be documented through comparison.
Are there intangible benefits?
Yes. Your club consists of like-minded people who have chosen to come together as a community. That community will only benefit from added communication between the club and members, members and members and club and employees. The sense of sharing, fellowship and community will be enhanced through the website as it becomes a common communications vehicle and source of information.
Will our members welcome a website?
Yes. According to a 2002 survey by the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA), about 67% of all private club members are now connected to the web, so they expect a website. This number tends to vary inversely with the average age of the clubs membership, i.e., the younger the membership age, the greater the use of the internet. Clubs with an older membership base may be less inclined toward a website but this is precisely the type of club that needs the internet presence to attract new and younger prospects for membership.
What skills are required of a Club Website Administrator?
Club Website Administrators need a good working knowledge of Microsoft Office, (Word, Excel); an internet browser, (Microsoft Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape), and a connection to the internet, No special skills are needed other than the ability to save and copy files and navigate through the PCs file system to create, store and retrieve content for the website.
Why is a Club Website Administrator important?
Content. The website administrator is responsible for keeping the information on the website clean, crisp and up-to-date. This is vitally important. Marketing will drive the members to visit the website once or twice but if content is not fresh and new, members will cease visiting the website.
Can the duties of a Club Website Administrator be shared?
Yes. Access to the website administrative area can be given to other staff members so that the workload can be shared. Even members can be granted permission to update an area of the website for which they are involved; for example, a member of the wine tasting committee can be granted access to update the Wine Club page.
How is PrivateGolfCourses.com different from its national competitors?
National competitors serving large areas of the country like PrivateGolfCourses.com are typically loaded with debt and, at least before the .com bust, most had planned to eventually go public. Because of their debt they are beholden to their investors. PrivateGolfCourses.com, on the other hand, is debt free and privately held so our only focus is on our clients.
How is PrivateGolfCourses.com different from the local website programmer?
Local developers can be found everywhere. They usually specialize in general e-commerce rather than communications websites. They can sometimes provide a website for a lower price because they do not have an infrastructure that allows club clerical staff to update the content. Instead, their programmers must make all the content changes and every change comes with an added cost. In the long run, customers of local website developers often quit updating their websites due to add-on programming charges. Local website developers are unfamiliar with the club industry whereas PrivateGolfCourses.com has been serving the private club industry since 1996.
How is PrivateGolfCourses.com different from employing the board member's son?
Giving website design responsibilities to a member or to a member's talented child has some short term benefits. The club gets a free website and it is delivered with enthusiasm and possibly with lots of local knowledge about the club. Updating the website will require the ongoing service of the programmer so keeping the website current will soon become sheer drudgery for even the most inspired member or member's child. Unfortunately there is a darker side to involving members or family. If problems arise in the future, as they usually do in nepotism arrangements, solving the problem often causes hurt feelings or worse. PrivateGolfCourses.com is an experienced professional vendor so nepotism will never become the root of an issue and club management can pursue the best course for the club.
Are your hosting fees tied to the number of features or functions selected for the club's website?
No. Any or all of our features and functions are available to all clients for the same hosting fee, $145 per month. PrivateGolfCourses.com charges a flat monthly hosting fee that is hundreds of dollars less every month than what our national competitors charge. That can add up to some interesting money during their two- or three-year contract period.
Are your hosting fees tied to the club's membership count?
No. That is a tactic to charge large clubs more money; PrivateGolfCourses.com charges a flat rate hosting fee. The fact of the matter is that the number of members has only an infinitesimal bearing on the underlying cost of maintaining and hosting a website today. PrivateGolfCourses.com charges a flat monthly hosting fee that is hundreds of dollars less every month than what our national competitors charge. That can add up to some interesting money during their two- or three-year contract period.
When new features or functions are added to our website do you also increase the monthly hosting fee?
No. The monthly hosting fee is a flat rate at PrivateGolfCourses.com and it remains unchanged when new pages or features or functions are added.
What do you charge for training the club staff on website maintenance?
Nothing. Our website infrastructure has been specifically engineered for ease of use by the club staff. So, updating of content is very straightforward and intuitive. Nevertheless, we provide unlimited and perpetual one-on-one training assistance by phone or email. So even if there is a staff change at the club, friendly help is just a phone call or email away.
How much content can be updated directly by the club staff?
All of it. All text, photos and documents throughout the entire website for both public pages and member only pages can be maintained by club staffers who posses common clerical skills. The structure of the website, that is, the navigation and graphic design, which rarely change, are the only parts of the website that cannot be modified by club staff.
Is there a limit to the amount of content that can be included in a club's website?
No; for all practical purposes the amount of content is unlimited. Back issues of newsletters, dozens of documents, calendars and hundreds of photos are typical. Clients may have as many navigation links as desired both in the public and members only section of the website.
What are your contract terms?
None. PrivateGolfCourses.com does not impose a contract, unlike our competitors who typically require a two or three year contract, sometimes with automatic renewal clauses and escape penalties. PrivateGolfCourses.com clients may choose to change website providers at any time and without penalty. We rely solely on our customer service to keep our customers.
Is special software needed by the club staff to maintain website content?
No. The website can be updated from any computer in the club, at home, on vacation or anywhere in the world that can connect to the internet.
What tools does the club staff need to maintain website content?
The club staff will need basic office tools including a browser and word processor typically, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Microsoft Word. Other helpful tools include utilities to create Adobe Acrobat files and a program to adjust photos for upload to the web.
Does PrivateGolfCourses.com own the content on a club's website?
No. The club owns all content including all text, photos and documents that have been uploaded. The code that enables the website and graphic design, however, are the property of PrivateGolfCourses.com.
My club is a non-profit, member-owned, 501(c)(7) entity for tax purposes; can we have a website?
Yes. There are special considerations for such clubs, however. In short, whatever your club would not do in the public newspaper should not be done on the public pages of a website. And whatever information you post in the clubhouse for members can be posted in the members only section of the website. See the Web Concerns section of this website for in-depth information about 501(c)(7) clubs.
What is your design philosophy for private club websites?
First of all, our designs respect and portray the heritage of the club and its members. Then, our designs tend to be somewhat conservative, functional and simple in appearance. This makes navigation intuitive for members. We do not use movies or splashy introductions but rather, present the visitor with sensible links that help them find the information they need quickly and easily. The age demographic of most private clubs skews higher than for the country at large so our simple and intuitive design is welcomed especially by older members who may be new to the computer and the internet while also providing a no-nonsense interface for younger, computer-savvy members.
Technically, how are your websites delivered, stored and protected?
Servers are located in a secure network operating center in southern California, a typical server farm operating out of an industrial park in a building without signs. Web services are delivered through high speed lines to the internet backbone. Our hardware consists of professional servers and peripheral equipment. Servers are protected against intruders by hardware firewalls. Data is backed up daily.
Do you provide email accounts for the club staff?
No. We have provided this service in the past but now recommend that clients sign up for Google's free email service. The club can use their own domain name yet have Google's servers manage spam and malware. Their service is wonderful and highly recommended by PrivateGolfCourses.com.
Is advertising ever displayed on any pages of a PrivateGolfCourses.com website?
No. We never use ad banners or any kind or pop-up advertising of any kind. We have no alliances whatsoever with purveyors of advertising..
PrivateGolfCourses.com will never provide club or member information of any kind to any company for any purpose whatsoever.
What is the typical development duration for a new website?
It generally takes about two weeks to build a new website to client specifications. This includes graphic design and programming. At that point the website is ready for the club staff to begin uploading content. It may take the club several days or weeks to write and collect the content for uploading to the website, however, once the writing and gathering is finished, all content can be uploaded for an entire website in a single afternoon.
Do you have a demonstration website?
Yes. We have a complete demo website available for your inspection and evaluation. Read more about our demo and sign up for an account by clicking this link.
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