Like all technology, golf related systems have come a long way since the early 2000’s where most of it ran from MS-DOS/Windows 95 to now, where the majority is cloud based making it accessible through a variety of web browsers.
Today there is an abundance of technology for all aspects of operating and managing your golf course. Some of the most recent tech development is for managing your golf course, with software using HD ariel images to identify anything from excessive moisture to high turf stress areas. However, I digress and this is not our area of expertise!
In terms of technology used to operate a golf course, we believe there are some key areas to consider:
Tee Sheet (inclusive of digital member/visitor booking experience + reporting)
Communications (automated & manual email, text comms & database management)
Competition & Handicap Management
All of these different areas beg the question should they be ran by one software provider or is integrating two or more providers efficient? Ultimately, this depends on the what the golf course is looking to achieve and how good the integrations are.
Given that our service is all about increasing visitor green fee revenue, we are going to focus on the digital visitor journey, which areas the journey touches, and the questions a golf course should ask itself when looking at technology solutions…
Phase 1 - Website:
A potential visitor lands on your website...
Is the experience mobile responsive?
Is it easy to find the visitor booking engine on both mobile and desktop?
Does the website try to capture any customer data with an offer (or similar) prior to the booking? If so, where does this data go?
Phase 2 – Visitor booking engine/tee sheet:
The potential visitor clicks through to the booking engine...
Again, is the booking engine mobile responsive?
Does it have the ability to accept voucher codes and present multi-ball pricing?
Does the system capture customer data and where does it store this?
How does the golfer pay and is the method PCI compliant?
Do you have the ability to sell additional items such as a buggy, trolley or food items? If so, does the booking engine take items such as buggies out of stock?
Is the booking engine showing live availability from the tee sheet?
Can you present a different price to your direct booking engine versus other third parties channels to encourage direct booking?
Do you have barter tee times showing on your booking engine?
Phase 3 – Booking engine:
The golfer decides to make a booking...
What confirmation does the golfer get?
Is the confirmation email branded with your logo/images, and is it automated from within the email communications tool?
If the golfer fails to make a booking (for whatever reason), does the system send an automated ‘basket abandonment’ email?
Phase 4 – Golfer arrives onsite:
The golfer arrives at the pro shop...
Have all the visitor details been transposed onto the tee sheet?
If the booking is more than a 1 ball, how easy is it to capture the other golfer’s data? Note that some systems offer the ability for the customer to electronically add their data via a tablet.
Is the information easily transposed on to the till whether it be directly linked or a separate system? If the till is linked does it 'arrive' the booking in the tee sheet?
If the booking has changed is it easy to edit?
Phase 5 – Follow up:
The golfer has finished playing golf and gone home...
What communication does the golfer receive in the next 24 – 48 hours and can this be automated?
Does the future communication have the same look and feel as the initial tee time communication so it is easily recognisable?
Has the golfers data gone into the visitor database within your communications suite, and how easy is it to communicate with them by text or email moving forward?
Phase 6 - Analysis and reporting:
The golfer has long left the facility but did the course charge the right price...
This comes down to the reporting available, for example can you monitor course utilisation, lead time and revenue per channel?
Can you easily export this information and use it to make better decisions about your visitor pricing per channel?
The above only covers a small amount of how a golf course will use its technology, and by no means are the questions exhaustive. Even from this small section it's easy to see how a 'straightforward' visitor booking can touch so many areas of the golf courses' technology solution. Plus if these areas are not integrated well or within one solution this will create additional work and lead to data/revenue being lost.
When looking at a technology solution make sure you consider each user group such as Administrators (including staff/committee members), Visitors (including online bookings and societies) and Members (including flexible and 'full' members).
If you would like some independent advice on your technology solution then please do get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org.