In a sea of competing sports, you've got to have the shiniest lure
By Jeff Brack

August 2005

We live in a world of high-speed, high-tech, instantaneous gratification. People want to know what you're selling, how much it is, and they want to find out anytime they choose. And how do we ensure that potential players will know what we offer? We make the information so readably available and easily accessible that it practically falls into their lap. So, not only do we need the shiniest lure, but we need it to be in a high traffic area.

Screen capture from the front page of Randolph Tennis Center's website

Screen capture from the front page
of Randolph Tennis Center's website

We are so focused on recruiting new players that we are overlooking the obvious. What about the potential players that are actually seeking out information? What about our current players that we're so desperately trying to retain? Why are we making it so difficult for these people? They are willing to recruit themselves if the information is easy to find (i.e. lessons, clinics, events, etc.).

Any respectable business in this modern world has a website. If you don't, from a customer's point of view, you become irrelevant. I guarantee that if you don't make the information easy to find, the consumer will find someone who does. Don't get me wrong, we must market the virtues of our game to the masses, but first things first. Let's make sure we hook the people who are already interested!

This is a competitive world and I don't mean between tennis facilities. We are competing with other sports! I think we are all very aware of the other mainstream sports that junior and adult athletes have to choose from. What's the big secret we're protecting? We don't want to market our game as well as the other sports do? WE WANT TO DO IT BETTER!

The technology that is available to us now has made reaching the public infinitely easier, and if you pardon the cliche, this is only the tip of the iceberg. We, as a tennis community, have the potential to provide our customers with one-stop-shopping. A website can offer all of the pertinent information about a facility, event schedules, lesson schedules, special event info, online registration for tournaments and clinics, tournament draws, current news and on and on. Why would a tennis facility not want to make this info accessible?

The USTA has taken a fantastic leap forward with TennisLink, which offers online registration and draws for our tournaments. The Southwest Section, demonstrating great vision, recently decided to allow us to post our non-sanctioned events on TennisLink as well. This is a very exciting development and is in perfect synch with the concept that we must make it easy for people to find what they're looking for. The USTA has led the way with recognizing and utilizing the potential of the internet, now it's time for facility directors to follow their example.

If you are a tournament director, you can certainly appreciate the streamlining that the TDM software coupled with the USTA's online registration website, TennisLink, have provided. Now, we need to take advantage of what they've established. Any facility can have a website that highlights their own events with internet links tied directly to the registration page on the USTA site. Competitors register and pay entry fees on the USTA site, and the USTA sends the money to the Tournament Director. Very convenient for the players and organizers alike.

The Randolph Email Bulletin - An HTML email and huge leap forward in communicating with the tennis community

The Randolph Email Bulletin - An HTML email
and huge leap forward in communicating
with the tennis community

Randolph has taken this a step further. We now offer our patrons an email bulletin. They can simply submit their email address on our website and they will be immediately entered into our database and begin receiving bulletins with Tournament Alerts. We?ve made it so easy that people don't even have to remember the events anymore! They can click right on the email and it will send them to online registration.

Here's the best part. It costs almost nothing! Of course you have some upfront expenses with developing the website and email bulletin, but ask any business owner that utilizes this technology and they'll all tell you the same thing. It's worth every penny. Once you have the website in place, you have only periodic maintenance and with the email setup you can reach limitless numbers of people at no charge. Let me say that again, ZERO dollars. Compare that with mass mailings.

Please take a few minutes and peruse the Randolph Tennis Center website (www.randolphtenniscenter.com) and sign up for the Randolph Email Bulletin. Maybe it'll give you some ideas.

Whether you are a club owner, a tournament director or just an avid player, we all want to see our game grow and succeed. Remember, we are competing with not only other well marketed sports, but also with many well marketed entertainment choices. This is the high-tech modern world, we've got to keep up with the Joneses- and the Joneses have the internet.