Delta inks deal with ClubLink

In pursuit of new offerings to add to its loyalty program, Delta Hotels has inked a partnership deal with ClubLink, Canada's leading golf course operator....

In pursuit of new offerings to add to its loyalty program, Delta Hotels has inked a partnership deal with ClubLink, Canada’s leading golf course operator.

Under the agreement, Toronto-based Delta will manage ClubLink’s four resort holdings in Ontario’s Muskoka region, and also build a 250-room hotel at the prestigious Glen Abbey golf course in Oakville, Ont., home of the Canadian Open golf tournament.

The deal gives ClubLink a partner with experience in managing and marketing hotels, and gives Delta a strong foothold in Ontario from which to grow its leisure travel business. It also gives the companies access to each other’s customer databases.

‘As we move through the next year, we’ll look at a number of opportunities to cross-sell the two products to our database and to the general public,’ says Ken Lambert, vice-president of sales and marketing at Toronto-based Delta. ‘By and large, I look at this as more of a database marketing opportunity than anything else.’

Delta has a database comprising about 120,000 members of its Delta Privilege program – typically business travellers between the ages of 35 and 50, who also have a propensity for playing golf.

The agreement gives Delta Privilege members preferred access to ClubLink’s daily-fee golf facilities in Ontario and Quebec. But they’re also good prospects for ClubLink’s private club memberships, Lambert suggests. Since the database comprises 70% business travellers, they’re likely to be reasonably affluent and more likely than most to be able to afford a ClubLink membership, he says.

While both ClubLink and Delta do spend significant portions of their marketing budgets on conventional brand advertising, they also focus much of their attention on direct marketing to their internal databases. In fact, a great deal of ClubLink’s corporate group business is generated through contact with its individual members, who tend to be affluent corporate decision-makers – an attractive target audience for Delta.

ClubLink also maintains a database of more than 200,000 prospects to whom it markets its membership packages. These prospects are guests of members who have played at a ClubLink course and filled out a response card. Because they’ve played the course as a guest of a member, they’re likely to have a similar profile, and thus are a good prospect for both ClubLink and Delta, says Joel Rosen, managing partner of Horwath Consultants, ClubLink’s representative in its dealings with Delta.

‘Both databases are very lucrative,’ says Rosen, who was, at one time, vice-president of marketing for the upscale hotelier. ‘In addition, Delta services more than two million guests a year. That’s a significant number of people walking through their portals, so you have the ability to target a very significant market with this resort and golf product.’

It’s a partnership that should benefit both parties, says Lyle Hall, vice-president and national director of KPMG’s hospitality, leisure and tourism industry practice in Toronto.

‘If you look at Delta’s corporate customer base, the advantage for ClubLink to be able to market their golf course memberships is ideal,’ he says. ‘You’re pre-qualifying people who travel a lot and who potentially [work for] companies with liberal expense accounts.’

Hall is also encouraged to see Delta actively pursuing such cross-promotional database activities, since he believes hotel chains, in general, have been slow to leverage the strengths of database marketing.

‘[Database marketing] is not growing as fast as it could or should be, but it’s one of those things that’s starting to gain some momentum,’ says Hall.