Tennis Industry magazine

 

Business that clicks

By offering online program enrollment, you’ll have greater participation, reduced costs and better customer retention.

By Kristen Daley

The TIA and USTA continue to move tennis further into the digital age by offering solutions from companies like the Active Network and TennisConnect that increase convenience for facilities and improve service for tennis consumers.

“Facility operators cannot overlook the power of the internet and the opportunity it provides to grow their business,” says TIA Executive Director Jolyn de Boer. “The goal now is for everyone to be able to offer their players the convenience of online enrollment.”

Online enrollment also means increased convenience for administrative staff, including the ability to accept sign-ups and program registrations after normal operating hours.

“24 hours a day, 365 days per year, customers can register for programs they want instead of waiting until normal business hours to call, or perhaps forgetting to call altogether,” says Scott Schultz, USTA managing director of Recreational Tennis. “That’s good customer service.”

Online registration also guarantees timely and consistent information dissemination, and players can receive confirmation emails regarding their registration. “Confirmation emails and reminders add commitment, and online payment strengthens the players’ ties to your programs,” says de Boer. By offering online registration, adds de Boer, you’ll most likely see more players in your programs, reduced costs to administer those programs, and better customer retention.

Moving such administrative operations online, however, “is not a one-size-fits-all business,” de Boer explains. To cater to facilities’ different needs, the USTA and TIA offer a number of choices so facilities and program organizers can identify their particular circumstances and choose the appropriate online solution. And the USTA’s Tennis Service Representatives will be among those spreading the word about the online options available and helping to assess facilities’ needs.

“By providing better service to both providers and customers,” says Schultz, “the bottom line is there will be more people playing tennis.”

Right now, the online registration solutions offered by the USTA and TIA include:

1. Informational ‘Postcards’

For a basic web presence, through the “Growing Tennis” system, facilities can promote and market their programs through free, informational “program postcards” found on major industry websites, including USTA.com, TennisWelcomeCenter.com and others (see “Get Your Programs Listed Online” at right). All facility operators can visit Growing Tennis.com to update their information.

Using the program postcards, facilities can choose to offer online registration without fee collection. This will help give organizers an idea of the number of participants they can expect for a specific program.

2. Active Network

Step up to online enrollment with fee collection through The Active Network, which began its relationship with the USTA last year by hosting and supporting the TennisLink infrastructure, including the USTA’s adult leagues, tournaments, Team Tennis, NTRP, and Rankings programs.

“More and more consumers expect to be able to enter and pay for things online,” says Philip Rowcliffe, senior director of Active Tennis. “It’s great for the tennis organizers and it’s great for the tennis consumer.”

By signing up with Active, a “Click Here to Register” icon is placed among program details, taking consumers to Active’s registration and processing engine.

According to Rowcliffe, Active works as a facilitator for payment between consumers and program organizers. Active reduces expenses for program organizers by eliminating expenses typically associated with customer payment and administrative issues.

“It’s given our existing customers another level of convenience, and it’s brought us some new customers,” says Rex Cajunco, director and head pro of the Village Tennis Center in Dallas. Cuajunco says that since they began using Active five years ago, the percent of customers enrolling for programs online has jumped from 10 percent to 60 percent. “We’ve even talked about going online exclusively,” he says.

3. Full Web Presence

Active also offers a full web presence, as does the TIA’s TennisConnect, which in addition to online registration offers court scheduling, program listings, an e-calendar and more.

“People want interactive experiences,” says Charlie Ruddy, product manager of TennisConnect. “They want to be able to act on information when it’s presented to them. “If you’re in the tennis business, and you’re actively managing on-court programs, TennisConnect is a terrific customer-service tool for your players, and it offers many productivity enhancements for the tennis manager and staff.”

A TennisConnect-hosted website has meant increased business for the Juan Bracho Tennis Academy in Bellaire, Texas. “I wanted to have a more professional-looking website than what I had produced before for my business,” says Juan Bracho, owner and head coach of the academy.

Now, players can go online to book lessons and also reserve and pay for court time on the public courts where Bracho teaches. Customers receive an email confirmation of their booking and transaction. “It’s almost like having a personal secretary, but it’s even better because it’s 24 hours,” says Bracho.

“TennisConnect allows my business to grow,” he adds. “When you’re teaching and you’re making money and helping the students to grow, it’s a win-win situation.”


Get Your Programs Listed Online

By logging in to GrowingTennis.com, you can list your facility and programs for free on consumer websites such as USTA.com, TennisWelcomeCenter.com, CardioTennis.com, Tennis.com, Tennischannel.com, and more. (Also at GrowingTennis.com, you can specify online enrollment options.)

Since these features have been added, GrowingTennis.com has seen a 1000 percent increase in traffic from facilities utilizing this tool to help market their programs through the internet. But even more important, there’s been a 250 percent growth in consumers searching these program “postcards” to find a place to play. Follow this simple step-by-step guide for your free “postcard” listing online.

Step 1

Log in to GrowingTennis.com. Every Tennis Welcome Center, Cardio Tennis site, and thousands of other tennis facility managers have access to GrowingTennis.com, where information you post about your facility and programs will appear for consumers. If you’ve never visited the site, go on it now and create your free profile so you can list your programs and events. If you already have a profile, you can go on the site at any time to update or add to your free listing. Remember, this is a free tool to market your facility and programs.

Step 2

Once your facility is logged in, manage the searchable information that appears on the “program postcards” and other search partner websites. Just click the link to Edit Program 1. You can also add a second program. Note that simply by clicking, you can specify program details and choose which programs can have online sign-up options.

Step 3

Fill in the eCalendar form. When you arrive at the section for “notification and sign-up options,” you can choose from three sign-up options (see arrow at right): allow Quick Sign-Up, use Active.com for registration, or use your own link.

Note: You can register for QuickStart Tennis on the Growing Tennis system.


Attention Retailers!

The GrowingTennis.com system is helping thousands of tennis facilities around the country grow their business. But retailers can also use this system to promote their retail and pro shop operations. Visit GrowingTennis.com to get involved and connected.


For More Information

About Quick Sign-Up:

Matt Allen, Tennis Industry Association

Matt@TennisIndustry.org or 843-686-3036 x.3

About Active.com:

Jimmy Hendricks, Active Networks

Jimmy.Hendricks@ActiveNetwork.com or 858-652-6131

About TennisConnect:

Charlie Ruddy, TennisConnect

Charlie@TennisConnect.org or 888-620-6696 x.1

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About the Author

Kristen Daley  is a contributing editor for RSI magazine.

 

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