The Index of Recreation Marketing Excellence: An Audit Instrument for Measuring the Effectiveness of Marketing Efforts at a Student Recreation Center
Executive Summary: The paper develops and demonstrates the use of a comprehensive audit for evaluating the effectiveness of external marketing, internal marketing, and service quality in the context of a recreation center. The inclusion of internal marketing and service quality in the audit represents an extension of existing audit frameworks in the recreation field that have focused exclusively on external marketing. The purpose of an audit is to identity strengths and weaknesses of the marketing effort, which validates or leads to a revision of a facility’s operating procedures. The Index of Recreation Marketing Excellence audit framework developed in the paper was substantially adapted from an instrument that had been designed for use in the private sector. The 66-item audit instrument was tested at a large recreation center that had recorded over one million visits in the past year and had an extensive array of facilities. It was administrated to a convenience sample of the facility’s users (n=300), all front-line employees (n=150), and all management-level employees (n=40). Response rates of 74, 69, and 82 percent, respectively, were obtained from the three groups. Reliability coefficients of some of the scales in the audit instrument were relatively low, probably because of the small number of items in these scales. The case study data revealed that managers were consistently stronger in their belief that the center’s external marketing strategy was effective than were those responsible for enacting it on the front line. On the selected items of the external marketing scales to which center users were invited to respond, they were generally less positive than management. The internal marketing scales highlighted wages and benefits, raises and awards, and feedback on job performance as items that employees thought needed to be addressed, while good working conditions and positive relations with supervisors and co-workers were strengths. The service quality items identified as needing most attention reflected the heavy use of the facility in that they related to cleanliness and maintenance issues. These implications derived from the case study are not generalizable, but they illustrate the type of insights that might be forthcoming from use of the audit. Suggestions for improving the audit instrument are provided.