I am a native of Bucks County, Pennsylvania and graduated from Council Rock High School in Newtown, Pennsylvania. I obtained a Sport Management degree from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia and earned my PGA Membership in 2001.
It is important to me to grow the game. To that end, I’ve worked on several PGA initiatives, including: Tee it Forward, Folds of Honor and Get Golf Ready. These initiatives are in addition to designing player development programs for beginners, ladies and juniors. I have been married to my amazing wife Gina since 1998. We have been blessed with three children: Kennedy, Maria & Ronnie.
MATT WARD : The golf season is just getting started for ’16 — what’s your projection for the year ahead?
RON LEPORATI: 2015 was a record year for our golf program at Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa. We are building this year from the momentum of last and have all confidence we will once again have a banner year. The golf landscape is very exciting right now. The US Open is in Pittsburgh — just 90 minutes from us and our biggest feeder market. The PGA is turning 100. This is also an Olympic Year and golf will be featured. Not to mention — it is also a Ryder Cup year. Brand wide, and in honor of the 2016 election, Omni is tapping into its presidential history and offering presidential-themed golf packages available throughout the year at Omni resorts across the U.S. Come play where the presidents have played and explore our 21 unique courses. You can play like a President at Omni Bedford Springs Resort with our POTUS Package.
MW: Describe the customer who comes to Omni Bedford Springs — from both the male and female side of things.
RL: Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa is a couples destination. We love that our weekend golf customer on weekends is largely couples. There is also a good balance in our base of men’s groups, women’s groups and couples groups. The Resort has everything you need for a memorable 2-3 days of relaxation and play.
MW: Various tee time providers have entered the market in a big time way — most notably — Golf Now. What’s your take on what they do and how does it impact the facility.
RL: It’s clear that the timing and preferred process to book a tee time has changed. We noticed right away as we started working with GolfSwitch that most of our rounds were being booked between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. online when customers are home from work for the day and able to focus on their hobby planning. GolfSwitch has afforded us the versatility to make online tee time booking convenient for our guests and better for our overall golf operation. Further, the mobile application offers numerous benefits at no-charge to our customers. Ultimately, it is golf course operators
MW: Millennials are not playing as much golf as previous generations — what do you believe needs to be done in order to get them excited about both taking up the game and for those who play — to play more?
RL: In our experience, Millennials are not as excited about the fact that our course has a long history, or the story behind it. For them — golf has to be experiential. The Resort has to be experiential. They are interested in our apiary program, stargazing at the fire pit, cigar rolling class, foraging in Chef’s garden. We have opportunities to partner with culinary and spa, to merge our world-class experience in a way that leaves our millennial guests breathless and hungry for more.
MW: How do you solicit customer feedback?
RL: We have a brand wide internal guest survey which is received post-stay via email. On Resort — we provide comment cards on golf carts and we engage regularly with our golfers pre and post-round.
MW: Has there been any specific customer feedback situation actually implemented and what were the circumstances tied to that happening?
RL: Industry trends and guest feedback have initiated us adding a lifestyle component to the golf shop. In that, we’ve added more resort-wear, inclusive of casual and dress shoes. We are as casual as we are formal. You don’t have to wear a blazer to dinner, but you can if that makes you happy. To that end — we’ll launch the Harriet Lane Boutique on Resort this Mother’s Day to feature resort fashion and accessories from top brands.
MW: One of the most enduring issues impacting golf is slow play — what’s the approach followed at Omni Bedford Springs?
RL: Operationally, we have pace of play expectations of four hours and five minutes when carts can scatter. Our expectation for pace of play when carts are required to stay on the cart path is four hours and 35 minutes. To assist our guests with staying on pace — we have designed pace of play charts which break down where they should be during various parts of their round based on their start time. Taking into consideration our five par-3’s, five par-5’s and eight par-4’s — we are able to provide information they might need to help them “stay the course.” While this is rarely necessary based on the amount of experienced golfers we host at Bedford Springs it has served as a beneficial tool.
MW: What do resorts that are heavily involved with golf need to do in order to stay relevant in the 21st century?
RL: Embrace elementary school, Jr. High and High School students with player development programs. Introducing the game to young people is an investment in cultivating future members, golf professionals and leadership with the PGA and the USGA. Mentoring is paramount.
MW: How do you go about selecting your various golf rates — it seems as if many facilities are especially sensitive in not charging too much in order to entice people to actually play more. Few top tier facilities offer “unlimited golf” whether on a weekday or weekend as you do during the prime playing months. Comments?
RL: Our rates are based on course conditions and anticipated overall experience. Guests who want to experience value are encouraged to play during shoulder seasons. Our traditional customers frequent the course multiple times in peak season.
MW: Define the Omni brand and what separates you from others in a very competitive landscape.
RL: What you get with Omni is award-winning resorts. Whether it be a historic course — like ours here at Omni Bedford Springs Resort — or in the desert of Tucson, each experience is its own and you’ll never play the same.
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