We've been reading up on how dynamic pricing can affect customer behaviour and wanted to share our findings...
It has been fairly standard practice in the UK golf industry to reduce the price of a tee time as you get nearer to it. At one point a few years ago this practice made perfect sense to me, once the tee time has gone then its gone forever. That said, I always appreciated the need to manage the average green fee price based around different customer types such as societies or members.
In the short term, this practice of reducing tee times on a last minute basis (generally 48 hours or less) generally worked, golf courses who did it saw their online green fee sales increase. However, what the golf industry had failed to realise is that we were inadvertently training consumers to book on a last minute basis. This was especially the case as electronic tee sheets became more popular as they gave the ability to automatically reduce rate based on lead time (generally days/24 hours at time).
The lead time for online bookings has got shorter and shorter over the past 10 years and is now on average close to 24 hours. This consumer behaviour has been encouraged by clubs who set their rate structure for the entire season with a 1 or 2 day override price, then do not look at it until the season changes. The golfer who books online is savvy and learns to be more strategic with his tee time purchases.
We face a similar problem with twilight pricing, most golf clubs now have a morning, afternoon and twilight price. Twilight pricing is generally the lowest, even though the 'afternoon' times are usually in least demand and are the have the lowest utilisation. However, to truly affect consumer behaviour the majority of golf courses would be required to decrease their afternoon rate and increase their twilight rate, which would likely lead to better utilisation of the course and an increased yield. If just one course in a 'market' does this, then this will lead to them losing market share in the larger revenue generating twilight time as golfers will likely make the choice to play elsewhere. Also, there is unlikely to be enough demand in the afternoon to make up the shortfall.
So how do we tackle this as an industry? Here at The Revenue Club, we believe that making better decisions based on the data contained within your tee sheet and Google Analytics, which when you combine them is the key to unlocking a better utilised golf course with a higher yield per golfer. For example, if your conversion percentage (website visitors who go on to book) is high, then figure out why and look to increase prices at your most in demand and utilised times. This in turn will lead to better utilisation of the course pushing the price sensitive golfer into the more off peak times and in turn lead to faster rounds of golf.
Unfortunately, this is not a once a season task, to do this well it should be at online booking data at least once per week!