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September 2020

Sand Hollow Resort

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Efficiency with Behind-the-Scenes Technology

By Sally J. Sportsman

Golfers are accustomed to seeing technology in use at the resort destinations they visit. Often, though, it’s the technology they don’t see, in full bloom behind the scenes, that colors their experience, enhances their stay and encourages them to return. This is true at Sand Hollow Resort, in Hurricane, Utah.
 
“Tech is a big part of all businesses now,” says Adam Jasperson, director of resort operations at Sand Hollow Resort, who has been there since the facility’s opening, in 2008. “I’m not aware of anything technology-wise that we are currently missing with our clientele.”

The Southern Utah destination, near St. George, is at an altitude of nearly 3,000 feet. It features the nationally-ranked Championship Golf Course, the nine-hole Links Course, the par-3 Wee Course, multiple outdoor activities and assorted accommodation options – with golf as the magnet. E-commerce and communications software, with a large platform, are integral to how resort personnel interact with guests and one another.

Starters have iPads for access to the tee sheet and cancellations. Credit cards are the main customer payment method, although cash and checks are allowed. With the resort’s communications software, the phone is answered and voicemail is available. The resort phone number can be called via text. If a call is unable to be answered, the resort’s response is delivered via text: “Thank you for contacting us; we are with other customers”; the caller’s texted reply then goes to the desktop of the appropriate department, and a staff member replies to the potential guest. This system allows the staff to multitask.

“We’ve learned that 40% of people prefer to communicate with us via text,” Jasperson says.

The communications software also allows the resort to stay in touch with repeat guests. Jasperson, who oversees all departments, corresponds with his staff via email, text messaging and face-to-face meetings – altogether, encompassing 24/7 operations.

“I get a lot of messages in the middle of the night,” he says.

GPS units have been installed on all golf carts since day one. This technology has evolved and improved over time, according to Jasperson, “helping us increase revenues and decrease expenses. I view it as an asset.”

The resort currently has 112 carts, and the GPS cost is $46 per month per cart, as per the lease agreement. “It took just one season – six months – to recoup our initial expense,” Jasperson says.

A technician is kept on staff at Sand Hollow to maintain the GPS day to day. If a unit malfunctions, it is pulled from the cart and shipped to the company, which then returns or replaces it. Most golfers enjoy using both the cart GPS and their own rangefinders. GPS shows the layout of holes, while rangefinders offer distance information.

“Golfers can see from tee to green and everything in between,” Jasperson says. “And our GPS is a great marketing tool.
“We sell ads to other businesses to reach our guests. We have the ability to do multiple ads on each hole, but we limit them and rotate them.”

Nearly 50 corporate sponsors pay the resort an annual fee. The rate varies widely depending on ad size, frequency and how long the ad will run.

“We have so many corporate sponsors because we can fit their budgets,” says Jasperson. “With 300 to 400 players per day, we charge more for ads during the season.

“Golfers tolerate the ads. We’ve never had a complaint.”

Most companies purchasing ads report that they do see added traffic on their websites, such as responses to promotional codes and direct calls.

“It works to make it worth their while for companies to spend their marketing budgets with us,” Jasperson says.
Another capability is that food can be ordered via GPS; a select menu appears on the screen on the 8th and 17th tee boxes. There’s a quick turnaround. The food & beverage department knows each golf cart number and where the cart is on the course. Golfers pay when they arrive at the takeout window.

The GPS system also helps with pace of play, a frequent challenge. In Jasperson’s view, “It’s not how many people you can get on the golf course, but how many you can get off.” GPS allows the staff to adjust cart speeds –12-13 mph, 7-8 mph on an incline – and create action zones. GPS allows staff to interact with guests, asking questions that guests can respond to by pressing buttons on the touchscreen. Golfers are informed, with a couple of holes notice, that carts need to be back in by dark and are asked to verify this; the GPS won’t revert to normal function until a golfer answers that question.

The biggest platform on which people learn about and connect with Sand Hollow is social media. Special resort packages are promoted this way, focusing on golf stay-and-play offers, other resort activities, extra-night opportunities and extended-stay enticements. Potential customers from across the U.S. and around the world discover Sand Hollow through the resort’s digital marketing initiatives, including the Sand Hollow website and SEO management.

“Technology all falls back to communication,” says Jasperson, “both with our staff and with our guests. At the end of the day, it’s all about making them happy, connecting the dots and exceeding expectations.

“We want the same enjoyment for our staff as for our guests, making sure they enjoy their time here.”

 

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