Online sales at UK courses finished the year 234% up on 2019 on average, despite four to five months being lost to the weather and lockdown restrictions. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about some ground-breaking changes to the industry and online bookings in particular. Not only was there an increase in visitor sales that has not been witnessed before but on average more than half of the bookings are now being made online, making it the primary method that visitors are using to reserve a tee time.
The average green fee has increased to £23.27 from £19.62 in 2019. Although many courses have increased their prices, the volume of member play has been much greater leaving little access to the peak times, making the increase even more significant than the £3.65 suggests. Average booking value has risen by £6.54 and although this should have increased in line with the average green fee, the two ball limitations at certain times of the year, along with unprecedented demand prevented further growth as the average group size fell from 2.31 to 2.22 players per booking. It is important to note that some courses have enabled pairing up of golfers and therefore the actual revenue per tee time may be greater.
Outside of the lockdown periods, average web traffic has consistently been three to four time greater than 2019 which illustrates the sharp rise in demand and an indication that the UK visitor golf market has increased in size.
Looking forward to 2021, the initial demand at the end of the current lockdown is likely to be extremely high. With increased daylight and hopefully better weather coinciding with a lifting of restrictions at some point in the spring, the level of pent-up demand will be unprecedented, we predict more than after lockdown 1.0.
Further limitations on social gathering will almost certainly continue well into the year which should work in the industry’s favour. Golf courses will experience high volumes of sales that should be at least in keeping with 2020 as long as the current lockdown finishes in February/March, and there is no reversion to a full lockdown later in the year.