As the way people book golf continues to change and more golfers switch to smart phones and tablets to get their golfing fix, revenue management is becoming more important to a well-run golf course. It’s the way golf courses manage rates, inventory, and distribution in an effort to show the right tee time to the right golfer at the right time at the right price.
Here at The Revenue Club we are discovering that direct bookings are far more cost effective than third party bookings, as they bring a higher yield per booking to the course. Gaining control of your digital booking channels also helps you to better control your online presence (which is important for growing all aspects of the business including membership, society, group and functions/weddings), and it gives you leverage with third parties. When a golfer books direct it is more likely (with good service) you will gain their data, loyalty and increase their lifetime value.
Generally speaking, third parties are far more savvy when it comes to capturing the golfer that books online; paid advertising campaigns with big budgets, good customer booking journeys and the cheapest/most attractive tee time deals through barter tee times. It can feel like a real battle of David (the golf club) versus Goliath (the tech savvy third party).
With that in mind we decided to put together a handy list of hints and tips for golf clubs that are looking to grow direct online green fee bookings. These techniques are extremely effective when you combine them with price adjustments and effective revenue management...
Focus on the customer
Creative for ads to combat third parties should carry the message to book direct with your golf course for savings, or other perks (see below). Entice the customer to book direct for the best rate, best experience and best service. Consider adding a clear list of reasons to book direct near your 'Book Now' button on your website. These items could include:
Free item on arrival e.g branded tees etc
Something unique to your golf course
Make sure to follow through on these promises and plan them into your visitor strategy and rate matrix.
*Credit to Hilton for the picture! Great Direct Booking Campaign - it certainly got my attention!
Maintain your (paid search) brand share
We wrote a blog a few weeks ago (see related posts) asking the question is your golf club being brand jacked? Essentially it looks at Pay-Per-Click advertising and how important it is to ensure you maintain or increase your share of paid search brand impression share.
Re-market to your website visitors
Golfers often research golf courses online, and if they make it on your page you want to make sure you re-target them through digital advertising. This can be done by adding some code into your website (a Facebook Pixel a great example of this), you can then use the information collected by the code to re-target ads on social media/display advertising spaces to keep your course fresh in the mind of a golfer!
Create look-a-like models
Look-a-like campaigns use data intelligence to find consumers that look like the best customers. Most golf clubs do not use the customer data they have very well (although I appreciate GDPR looms, this is a great opportunity to get your customer database in order, and then use it very effectively. These campaigns are extremely customisable, and can be implemented from every channel, to really have that 360-degree approach.
Accurate booking insights for each channel
You should know the cost of acquisition per channel. For example the cost per acquisition of a third party channel will likely be 20% plus booking fees. Consider if it would be worth running a digital advertising campaign to attract that person to book direct - it might be more effort but its definitely cheaper.
We estimate that 2 million rounds of golf were booked online last year. Ask yourself if your golf club is getting their share of them and if so, what percentage come through your own website and could you be doing more?
If you want to put some of these strategies into action, then please do get in touch with us, we can point you in the right direction and help your venue you take advantage of the online opportunity.