We at Private Club Marketing had the opportunity to have a discussion with Ricky Potts, a content specialist, golfer, craft beer and EDM enthusiast. As Troon Enterprises’ digital communications manager, he imparts valuable insight into how the two worlds of social media and club lifestyle intersect:
Private Club Marketing to Ricky Potts: You have spent the last few years in a key position as Troon’s digital communications manager, overseeing the social media presence of over 250 impeccable club properties in over 30 countries. Can you tell us how your knowledge and experience lead you to this point?
Ricky Potts: Well, to be clear, I’m a resource in the corporate office for all [of] those facilities. We manage over 250 facilities worldwide as of today, in 35 states and more than 30 countries. I’m an advocate and a support vessel for those clubs, and I oversee actually posting to Troon, Troon Golf, Troon Privé, and Honours Golf social media accounts. We also have channels for Troon International, but the team in Dubai, United Arab Emirates handles the content for these. To give you an idea of the dynamics of the company, Troon Golf is our daily fee/resort division, Troon Privé is our private club division, Troon International is our division of facilities outside of the United States and Honors Golf is a division in the southeast. I’m not in charge of the actual content being shared by the facilities, but often I will host webinars where I will answer questions, etc.
I’ll give you an example: we manage a restaurant here in Arizona, and just yesterday they reached out and said they wanted to have a campaign where individuals who have shirts with their logo [on them] can go around the world taking pictures, then have the ability to share their content online. How do we track that? Well, let’s search the conversation using a hashtag, and work with both the management as well as the social media user. So, rather than actually posting on behalf of the individual facility, I am helping to teach them how to fish—so to speak.
PCM: And what lead you specifically to Troon?
RP: I’m originally from the Midwest, and as a junior in college I was working imavex, Troon’s web provider. . . . I knew the Troon brand, and then 5 years later I’m still working with the company and [I] decided to make the move to Scottsdale, Arizona. Through continued relationships with the team at Troon, this opportunity came along, and I couldn’t resist. It was funny, though. When I started, while I was taking my tour of the office, I knew everyone from my days with imavex. The lady leading the tour asked, “Would you like to lead the tour? You know more people than I do!”
PCM: What has been your most effective change or innovation so far to Troon’s social media strategy, and what benefits are you seeing?
RP: I think the biggest difference is that there is now an individual dedicated to responding to the public. And more than just responding to the public on their [social media] platforms, we also seek [customers] out, make sure they have a good experience and that they have a story to tell their buddies. The way we initiate contact with our customers, rather than just respond, is absolutely important. In terms of strategy and changes, . . . we have to change as platforms change. . . . It’s important to always be at the forefront of what’s next. I could spend ten hours a day on just Twitter for Troon. Twitter works because we can insert ourselves into the conversation. We can create the conversation. I like to say Twitter is like public texting. The response time expectation is immediate. Instant personal attention. Instant response.
The important thing is that we’re able to respond in a timely manner on any platform. For instance, I got a Twitter message literally just now and as soon as I hang up the first thing I’m going to do is respond to that. We have a response time on Facebook Messenger of three minutes or less to [address] 100% of the messages that have come to us. . . . The idea is that we are transparent. . . . We’re able, willing and eager to talk to our golfers and our customers. Troon is more than just golf; we are also restaurants, equestrian centers, tennis courts, etc. . . . Being able to respond quickly to our customers is something that I personally pride myself on.
PCM: As someone with a specialized background in many kinds of content, how does your strategy change when you are looking specifically to encourage engagement from a higher class of clientele, i.e. discerning consumers of luxury?
RP: All the different kinds of content that I deal with (from EDM to craft beer, to golfing) — they’re all specific cultures with specific expectations. You know what to expect when you go to a dance club . . . or when you go out to a brewery. It’s the same thing with golf. The strategy itself changes on a per post basis, but it’s important to be aware of the culture and expectations in each situation. . . . The voice of Troon remains consistent, but the expectations of what that content looks like from club to club remain important. The ability to know what a private club lifestyle is like, as opposed to a daily fee experience, helps inform the strategy. [The strategy] is always about what’s best for our customers. I think it helps to put myself in the shoes of the consumer. If I’m speaking as the consumer, I can know what they want.
PCM: How much does the online presence of Troon’s many properties vary? Do you stress one overarching brand strategy, or spend more time focusing on an individual property’s needs?
RP: We have developed an ever-changing multi-phase approach. The first phase — the top of your funnel — is your website. Your website is the only place online where you control your voice, so you had better be really good at [managing] your website, [including] email. We also include three [social media] platforms in that first phase: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. . . Then we can start looking at phase two, [which includes] more networks. We can start walking [our facilities] through what works for them as a part of that phase. Why [should they] be on Pinterest, for instance? We can talk to him about that. Why focus on my trip advisor reviews? We talk about that.
PCM: The sport of golf itself, as well as the lifestyle surrounding club culture, has traditionally been linked with an older consumer, but this association is changing quickly. What do you think is the best digital marketing approach to keep encouraging growth in this younger demographic?
RP: We are focused on growing the game of golf but also on making sure our current customers are here for the long haul. In the last few years we have introduced the Troon Junior Club . . . that includes ages zero to sixteen. We want to talk to our members of the Junior Club. Where are they online? They’re not really on Facebook anymore, or even Twitter. So we have created an Instagram account for the Troon Junior Club. In this instance, that’s the only place online (past the website) where you’re going to find the Junior Club.
One of our clubs, Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club, recently unveiled a short course called #miniDunes. #miniDunes is a 6-hole short course built into the floor of the driving range. The only rule on #miniDunes is that there are no rules. You can play barefoot, or play in a ten-some. It’s about having fun. We can appeal to younger people by providing a place to bend the rules and have fun. You don’t have to be good to have fun, [and] if it’s not intimidating, [people can] go out and have a good time.
For more information and insight about Troon, social media, and the club lifestyle, check out twitter.com/troon.
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