Channel management when referring to the green fee/visitor business relates to how a golfer books their tee time or green fee. Traditionally golfers had to book direct with the golf course in person or over the telephone as this was the only choice. Even then, golfers sometimes had to book through a member of the course they wanted to play.
Nowadays golfers have a plethora of channels to book their round of golf. The traditional method of telephone or walk-in still plays a large part in the amount of green fees taken by a golf course. However, times are changing and golfers now can book in a number of ways, including but not limited to (and in no particular order):
Third party tee time re-sellers: e.g Teeofftimes.co.uk, GolfNow, Teetimes.co.uk who provide a marketplace for golfers to search and book tee times. Similar to booking.com in the hotel industry and skyscanner.net in the airline industry.
Golf travel agents/tour operators: such as Golfbreaks.com who now offer a ‘tours section’ to their website and service. This means a golfer will tour a number of differnt courses, often staying at a hotel which does not have a golf course attached. There are also a number of other golf travel agents who offer a similar service. It is worth noting that these tour operators are now looking to make bookings via a golf course’s electronic tee sheet, this will aid customer service through providing live tee time availability and reducing administration costs for both golf course and tour operator.
Group Marketing: a number of golf courses in similar locations have also chosen to market themselves together in order to make booking multiple rounds on multiple days easier for the golfer.
Website: Directly through the courses own website/booking engine. This is arguably the most underutilised and under promoted channel for the golf industry.
Open Competitions: sites such as GolfEmpire are essentially a marketplace website for booking open competitions.
Flexible membership schemes: Playmore.golf allows its members to use 20% of their points at an ‘away’ venue. These additional points essentially generate a green fee for the course being played.
Apps: are playing an increasing role in people booking green fees online.
Social Media: golf courses can now enable direct booking through their social media (if they have the right technology).
Traditionally a golf course would measure the number of green fees being paid under two or three categories; visitor, member guest, society and resident (if there is a hotel onsite). In today’s digital world that simply isn’t enough. Each booking channel is likely to have a different cost associated to it and require marketing in a different way. It is important for courses to understand how much business is coming through which channel, what costs are associated to that channel, and how/when to maximise/market the channel.
Here at The Revenue Club we are big believers in channel management and have a number of processes to help courses maximise their returns and minimise their costs. If you would like to learn more about channel management then please send us an email on [email protected]