As the golfing season draws to a close we have begun to reflect on the challenges faced over this golfing season and since launching The Revenue Club a couple of years ago when it comes to implementing dynamic pricing in golf. There is no doubt that dynamic pricing as part of a green fee revenue management strategy increases green fee sales, however, if you are thinking of taking the plunge and implementing this type of pricing then please have a read of the challenges we have come across in the past few years:
Skillset - the revenue management role requires a set of specialised skills and a good understanding of the wider business. As such identifying the right skills and how to improve them is key. Revenue Management is a relatively new concept to golf, so looking to other industries to learn is a good place to start.
Technology - the golf industry falls someway short of other industries when it comes to technology and how it can assist 'revenue managers'. Many industries have automation and algorithms to maximise yield, this is yet to reach the golf industry on any scale. That said, you can make the existing technology work for you, the key is to make sure you are maximising the efficiency of using technology where possible and avoiding issues where two or more tech solutions do not talk with each other.
Communication - we have spoken about about this in previous blog's, and it is possibly one of our greatest learnings since starting The Revenue Club. It is virtually pointless delivering a pricing change, and not getting the message to market. It is crucial to share information internally, so the relavent messaging can reach the most important person, the golfer. In short, if you make a price change, shout about it!
Distribution Costs - distribution costs must be measured completely. As a revenue manager it is important to fully understand the costs associated with each channel. This might be direct booking costs and include the cost of digital advertising, through to the third parties and their associated costs such as barter tee times, booking fees and/or commissions. Third parties are still on the rise, and it is a complicated landscape with various commercial deals available making it more difficult to generate direct sales. Fortunately good marketing can help, an email campaign is a good place to start directing golfers to book directly with you (and its free, aside from a bit of time and effort). Running on-going digital advertising that includes your golf club name will help with overall awareness and should increase all aspects of your business ranging from membership enquiries, society bookings right through to the offline tee time sales.
Pricing - There are various factors which can affect pricing, some within our control and some outside of it. The important factor is to react to these changes. For example if the golf course is in excellent condition, make sure you market that and hold your price high. A great KPI for checking that your overall pricing strategy is working is conversion This measures the number of golfers looking at the booking engine that go on to book. Unfortunately this often has to be manually calculated and i would refer you back to our point about technology! The bottom line is you need to base your pricing decisions on data. Another factor to pay close attention to is other revenue streams which are affected by the price of your green fee, this can include members and society bookers, the key is to provide value for all, whilst maximising utilisation and yield. Don't forget rather than discounting you can include items such as buggies or food/drink in the price of a tee time to make it more appealing, just make sure your tech provider can offer this. Finally, it would be unfair to talk about pricing without making mention of lead time, which plays a significant role in what golfers pay to book/play the course.
'Golf Clubs' - Golf courses outside of a brand or multi-course operator are ideally placed to be even more flexible with their pricing strategy. An individual golf club can deliver personal experiences which create real loyalty. This is how independent coffee shops survive against the marketing clout of Costa or Starbucks.
Speaking of coffee, if you are interested in implementing a new pricing structure in 2020 but not sure where to start, then please do give us a shout and invite us to your club for a coffee... we are happy to have a chat about what could work for your golf course!