How a Venerable Golf Club Became a Hotspot for the Tech Community
MAY 25, 2016 • Blog Post • By Maeghan Ouimet, WIRED BRAND LAB
IN THIS ARTICLE
- An IT infrastructure makeover for a 120-year-old golf club unlocked new revenue opportunities and transformed it into a hotspot for Pittsburghs tech community
How a venerable golf club maintained its roots while tapping into the areas growing tech sector
Two years ago, under the watchful eye of new general manager Dan Brennan, historic Pittsburgh Golf Club got a makeover—not of its multiple clay tennis courts or its outdoor pool, but of its IT infrastructure.
In 2014, PGC decided to outfit its building (which dates back to the 1800s) with Wi-Fi technology made up of indoor and outdoor 802.11ac Aruba Instant APs. Brennan says the move was made in part because the poor Internet in the old building had become a running joke for club patrons, but also because he saw a business opportunity for the private club. The building, Brennan believed, was an ideal spot for groups from the area's burgeoning start-up and tech community to hold meetings or events.
"People that come here through sponsored events have been very happy," Brennan says of the upgrade. "They've been excited to know now that they can come and provide us with their business."
The positive results have been threefold: members are thrilled to hop on their laptops out by the club's pool and do some work or host large events, outside companies and colleges are utilizing the space much more often, and PGC staff can now work with patrons seamlessly through an always-connected point-of-sale system.
A win-win-win for PGC.
A Pittsburgh staple since 1896, early PGC members included U.S. Secretary of Treasury Andrew Mellon. But Brennan knew the times were a-changin': "We felt that we needed to step into the times to create an environment where the working man or woman can do their work in the private confines of the club while enjoying the many amenities it offers, thus increasing our member spending."
Creating a business differentiator
"In the private club industry, we have a very unique need to provide our members with as many amenities as we can for the dollars they spend," Brennan says. "We're competing with the club down the street, and we're trying to get members to join in an economic time where a lot of people aren't joining private clubs anymore."
The new system has boosted PGC’s revenue, not only from their member-sponsored public groups holding events, but also from club members hosting private functions.
"In a private club surrounding, you're only allowed to take a certain amount of revenue that's considered 'non-member,' unrelated business income," Brennan says. "But we've increased our income number from the private functions that are sponsored by our members, and we've seen an increase in revenues from the club member usage side of the business."