Today’s point-of-sale (POS) systems can do much more than punch in and cash out orders. But while many clubs and resorts have made substantial investments in POS technology to try to maximize efficiencies and enhance service, too many still make poor use of the valuable time-saving and reporting features these systems can provide—and as a result, their POS equipment remains little more than an expensive cash register.
When Brian Gillespie, General Manager of Tamarack Country Club in Greenwich, Conn., was recently given the opportunity to purchase a new POS system, efficiency was definitely among the deciding factors. The club’s previous POS system could take as much as 30 minutes to complete a report, Gillespie says. But his new system is the “best fit,” he continues, because “it is very easy to use, and able to meet all of our demands for the dining areas, as well as the golf and tennis shops.”
Tamarack’s new system is user-friendly, Gillespie says, with the look and feel of a web browser. It’s so easy to use, in fact, new staff is trained by existing staff, and the learning curve is a short one, he says.
Even better, Gillespie says, the data-mining capabilities are vast—and simple to use and understand. “When I e-mail reports to any committee chair, they are now able to drill down on the information and view the backup behind the numbers,” he explains.
|SUMMING IT UP
The quality and depth of data that the system now makes available has had a positive impact on both the club’s marketing efforts and membership levels, he adds. “It all comes down to the old saying of ‘garbage in, garbage out,’ ” says Gillespie. “We try to keep all of our census information current, so when we run a report on dependents or spending per a certain demographic, we know the information is correct.”
No Need to Start Anew
In other cases, a completely new system is not necessary—simply upgrading to a newer version or related product can make a big difference. For example, in November 2010, the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort, in Whistler, British Columbia, went live with an upgrade of a system it had used for several years. The improvements, IT Project Manager Yolanda Foose reports, were almost immediately noticeable.
“Previously, we were able to combine all front-line reservations into one solution, except for F&B,” she says, “but this program includes F&B.”
The new POS system also offered many functional improvements, Foose says, including sales channels, payment plans, loyalty voucher tools, and analytics. Not surprisingly, she admits, “We are still working to utilize all of this new functionality.”
Among Foose’s favorite features with Whistler Blackcomb’s upgraded POS solution is the component for flexible payment plans that the system makes available on the resort’s website. “They allow our guests to easily add complimentary product to their cart on the eStore, and pay a down payment in the spring and the final payment for their season pass in the fall,” she explains. “This is a great convenience for the guest, and has made transaction time at the front line quicker as well.”
In addition, the system’s “Voucher” tool has let the staff process Whistler Blackcomb’s Pass Perks program much more efficiently, Foose says.
“We used to have to do a lot of manual tracking of Mountain Money numbers and manually assign items to guest,” she says. “Now, this is all possible in the original sales transaction. This has improved the process for our employees and guests significantly.”
And just because the new system was upgraded last fall doesn’t mean the improvements will stop. For example, Whistler Blackcomb’s POS supplier added a new promotions module this spring that has allowed the team to easily upsell to guests online, through the call center and at the front line.
“We implemented this new feature in the summer, and we hope to see a decrease in transaction time at the front line, and an increase in add-on sales,” Foose says.
Interfaces are still needed to link the POS system to software systems for retail back-office accounting, enterprise resource planning, human resources information, and time and attendance. But Foose looks at the relationship with the POS supplier as a two-way street, ever-evolving to meet the property’s individual needs.
Most recently, Whistler Blackcomb has been working with the provider on a new mobile solution that allows guests to track their ski runs, vertical distance and mileage on their mobile devices. Guests can also easily post their runs for the day on Facebook and Twitter, and can also access weather and lift-status information.
And there are still more mountains to be moved, so to speak, according to Foose: “We are continually working with our supplier to make improvements to the system that will streamline our processes for guests, and for staff,” she says.
It’s no secret that how both the front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house staff are trained on the use of a point-of-sale system has a direct impact on getting full use and benefit from it. That’s a big reason why Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort, in British Columbia, conducts extensive new staff training each spring and fall.
“Each different division is responsible for designing and conducting this training, and the majority of it is classroom-style,” says IT Project Manager Yolanda Foose. “We have also been working to create online tutorials for the areas of the system that are the same across the divisions—for example, logging in, a simple sales transaction, discounting and cashing out. Our guest-service department uses this style of training for all their ticket-window and validation staff.”
Being part of new employee orientation is one thing; maintaining the comfort level with established employees is another. Foose says providing easy access to instructions for how to deal with any system changes is paramount.
“If we have changes to procedures during the season, we develop an online tutorial and send this out though our intranet, ‘The Landing,’” she explains. The internal site also houses procedures, documents and online tutorials that staff can refer to at any time. As a bonus, she adds, the intranet tutorials “also assist with new staff training.”
The goal that Whistler Blackcomb is working toward, Foose says, is to continue to expand the online training.
“We hope to get to the point where staff can learn about the system online, and we can track which staff has completed which modules,” she concludes.