Kevin Baker
Kevin Baker is the PGA director of golf at Reunion Resort in Kissimmee, Fla.

Kevin Baker on the importance of offering a quality club-shipping service:

About a quarter of our business comes from golf groups, and many of them have their clubs shipped to Reunion. It was always hard to track the clubs because for a group of 12 golfers, we’d usually have 12 different tracking numbers and even different shipping companies.

So we decided to try a golf-specific shipping service that all of our golfers could use. The service we use, Ship Sticks, makes it easy for us. The golfers can ship their clubs to Reunion from home, their office or their home golf course. The shipping company uses UPS and FedEx but takes care of tracking the clubs. When the clubs arrive, we get an email.

My group services manager can actually log on and see that the clubs have all been delivered and are on Reunion property, which is a huge benefit. But the biggest advantage for us is when people are leaving the resort. They come to us at the last minute and tell us they need to ship their clubs. In the past, we’d have to contact our shipping manager, who might not have been immediately available.

The golf shop would then have a quote a price and collect the money from the customer, and often we’d get a bill that was higher than what we charged. We won’t back to the customer for the difference, so we lost money. There was also the perception by the customer that we were making money on shipping, or nickel-and-diming them, even though that wasn’t true. Now, we have the service set up on a computer in the golf shop.

We can click on the Ship Sticks icon, fill out the form, and the customer can pay for it right on the computer with his credit card. We don’t collect the money, so we’ve removed that perception that we’re upcharging them. And the golfers get a better rate than they can get directly with UPS or FedEx.

For example, they had a special roundtrip rate that was cheaper than checking your clubs on the airlines. One foursome flying in from Michigan put everything they were going to wear in the box with the clubs and shipped it, so they only needed a small carry-on. When they arrived, they had their stuff delivered right to their rooms at Reunion.

Kevin Baker on the business impact of offering a quality club-shipping service:

The biggest impact for us is operational. About 25 percent of our business in 2012 was groups, and we’re on target to increase that to about 35 percent in 2013. All together, we do roughly 30,000 rounds of group golf business, and the shipping service streamlines this aspect of the business.

If there’s a problem, the shipping service figures out where the clubs are and ensures they reach the resort. It eliminates the perception that we’re upcharging our customers, and it takes us out of the middle.

Plus, we get a small commission based on our overall sales, so it’s been a really good service for us. We love the ease of booking for ourselves and the golfers, and we don’t have to worry about tracking. Our next step will be pricing the shipping service into our packages; in essence, we’ll be offering complementary shipping.