Take Me Away

By Lindsay Elkins, Assistant Editor | September 01, 2005

The increasing stress of the daily grind has many travelers longing for a getaway filled with relaxation and leisurely activities. However, the hassle of booking and scheduling activities at resorts can oftentimes leave guests feeling in need of another vacation. Golf and spa resort operators are seemingly taking notice and fine-tuning their services accordingly to meet the needs of today's guest. Patrons of these generally exclusive resorts expect to find a relaxing retreat complete with personalized attention and a simple way to book their favorite spa services and golf packages. As the trend toward the rejuvenating vacation continues to grow, resort properties must fulfill these requests if they wish to stay afloat.

Making each guest at the resort feel like a priority among the masses is the goal of many operators, but turning this goal into a reality is no easy task. That's why golf and spa resort operators are continually turning to new technology to help them improve and simplify their guest services and add a personal feel to their vacation packages. "Our software is dedicated to tracking guest preferences," says Lisa Jane Wheaton, rooms revenue and sales operations manager for Vintage Inns in Ontario Canada. Vintage operates three boutique properties: The Prince of Wales Hotel and Spa, Queens Landing Inn and Conference Resort and The Pillar and Post Inn Spa and Conference Center, each with unique decor and 112 to 144 rooms.

Vintage solutions

Vintage Inns utilizes Northwind's Maestro PMS (maestropms.com), which provides seamless control across all three hotels. "It's a very personalized service that can keep extremely detailed records, which are then maintained in a client database. The system can track information such as which polish color a guest chose for their pedicure at their last visit, and then recommend the same color or suggest trying something different," Wheaton adds. Spa software is linked to Vintage Inns' property-management system (PMS) and hotel personnel can book reservations and look up information in separate databases, or access information for all three properties.

Vintage Inns isn't the only property that sees the value of personalized service. Robert Rohrer, senior systems project leader for Kohler Hospitality Systems takes advantage of Springer-Miller's (springermiller.com) golf and recreation scheduling modules at The American Club, a five diamond resort hotel with four 18-hole golf courses and a spa.

"Information about a guest and their scheduled activities is readily available throughout the resort," according to Rohrer. "We have improved our ability to track and analyze guest booking patterns, preferences, experiences and spending habits. We can then use this information to develop products, services and packages that meet market demands, while exceeding our guests' expectations in service and value."

Rohrer notes that the most popular spa packages are those which offer flexibility when choosing different services. "Springer-Miller gives us the ability to design and offer a wider variety of packages that can be tailored to meet guests' needs."

Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in Pinehurst, North Carolina, is home to eight world-class golf courses, a spa, beach club and tennis facility, and was host of the 2005 U.S. Open. Pinehurst uses Visual One Systems' (v1s.com) property management systems to track their guest history. "The reservationist can access a guest's individual information and make sure that they receive the services and packages that they like," explains Janis Brehm of Pinehurst.

Fully integrated

While on vacation a traveler is often looking for a way to do the activities they enjoy, without the need to deal with a separate service and location when booking each activity, insist Bret Anthony, property manager, and Liz Oliver, director of finance at Daufuskie Island Resort and Breathe Spa. Just off the coast of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, Daufuskie operates a spa, two golf courses and various other activities. The property enlisted help from Micros' Opera Enterprise System (micros.com) to help centralize management of the activities. Micros' Opera Enterprise allows guests to book all of their reservations, from boats, to golf carts, to bicycles and beyond, all together in one integrated system when they call to make the initial reservation.

"Up until now the guest would have been directed to one place to make the golf and ferry reservation, and another place for the cart and bike," according to Oliver. "Now if the guest has any questions, just about any employee at the resort has the ability to pull up any reservation. No more of the •let me call the pro-shop.' It's one-stop shopping."

Daufuskie also greatly benefits from the enhanced communication that goes along with the technology. "Just to have everything under one roof greatly enhances the flow of communication, allowing us to be able to keep up with anything that is guest-related in one spot," asserts Anthony. "It's much better for the guests, employees and resort as a whole."

Ocean Reef Club, a private club with 36 holes of golf, a salon and spa in Key Largo, Florida, uses the integration method to ensure that their large resort runs smoothly. The club has appromixately 4,000 members according to vice president of finance, Suzy Carder. "We use Visual Systems' Golf Pro and Spa Management systems," she says. "We utilize Golf Pro for tee times, and in all retail outlets and eight club-owned shops throughout the resort. Having everything integrated has really been the key to making the resort operate more efficiently."

Smooth operations

In the quest to make the resort experience as pleasurable as possible for the guest, a side effect of these technologies is that they also make life easier for the resort's employees, in addition to making daily operations run more smoothly. Pinehurst's Brehm has been using a solution from SRC Software (srcsoftware.com) since 2001 as a forecasting and budgeting tool. "We're a cyclical resort and also very seasonal, so I can look back and run reports showing spa revenue in July 2005 to help us forecast," Brehm says.

According to Brehm, economic forecasting continues to be an important part of the business in the hospitality industry today. "It's become much more critical to become more accurate," she says. "I can build the forecast account by account and build up to the top level and go back and make any changes if necessary."

Forecasting information also plays a significant role at Ocean Reef Club, says Carder. With Visual One's Golf Pro and Spa Management systems, Ocean Reef is able to keep track of how much their members are spending and what time of year they visit the club.

"We utilize the historical information for forecasting and budgeting. Daily reports are a key in managing each area," says Carder. Vintage Inns' Wheaton also sees the benefit to the overall operation of the resort. "Maestro is able to easily pinpoint the highest revenue generator," she says. "We can apply the data to provide enhanced guest service while simultaneously maximizing revenue."

However guest satisfaction still reigns as the driving force behind operators updating their technology. "With the stress of today's living, travelers are looking for relaxation and rejuvenating getaways," says Vintage Inns' Wheaton. And with the new technology in hand, operators are promising guests just that.

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