This week we were struggling to for an idea to write about for the letter ‘J’, but thanks to a brain wave from friend of The Revenue Club, this blog is all about a golfer’s journey to booking a tee time.
The journey a golfer takes to book a tee time has significantly changed over the past 15 years, primarily due to the internet and mobile phones. Although we have talked a lot about technology, websites and e-commerce in previous blogs, it is important to remember that the customers themselves have changed their behaviour and therefore demand to book a tee time in a different way. The golf industry must adapt to this, and must adapt at a faster rate than it has so far.
The change in booking technology across all aspects of our lives has undoubtedly influenced golfers booking behaviour to change. One of the key changes in the golf industry was the introduction of marketplace websites such as ‘reservatee’ (for those of you remember that platform) and more well-known sites such as teetimes.co.uk & teeofftimes.co.uk, which made it simple to book a tee time as a visitor online.
Comparing how technology has influenced in other industries can help us understand how to adapt and evolve with technology changes. Fifteen years ago having a map in a car for directions was common place, now with the introduction of Google Maps on mobile technology and satellite navigation, it’s rare you see anyone using a paper map to find their way. Looking to the future, Tesla are rapidly changing consumer behaviour by introducing new technology. Their cars are fitted with what I would describe as a massive iPad (I think Tesla call it a Control Panel), which has replaced the traditional centre console and helps the car to self-drive. Whilst I love talking about cars, my point is that technology changed and is evolving, which in turn changed consumer behaviour and will continue to do so in the future – soon enough we will all be passengers in cars, not driving them! (There was a pun in there somewhere about car journey and customer journey but I just couldn’t bring myself to write it!)
At The Revenue Club we always like to ask the question, ‘so what’? Well, as the change in consumer behaviour has been driven by evolving technology, this means golf courses must adopt new technology and adapt the way green fees are marketed and sold. Any golf club encouraging visitors to play will significantly benefit from a mobile responsive booking engine, utilising revenue management/dynamic pricing, whilst implementing digital marketing tactics, such as SEO (organic search engine optimisation), SEM (generally paid search engine marketing such as Google AdWords) and proactive work on social media (paid & organic) – all things we can help with through our monthly subscription service.
Golf course operators also need to be aware of potential customer objections from new strategies, and how to handle them. One of our partner courses had recently been challenged by a golfer about the price they paid at the time of booking, versus what price was available online 20 minutes before the tee time (the tee time was booked around 3 weeks before the day of play, over the telephone, and no deposit was taken). The manager handled the objection by using an example from the hotel industry, he asked ‘if you had booked a hotel 3 weeks prior to arriving over the telephone, would you have arrived at the reception, checked the price online, then asked to pay that rate?’. This of course, was delivered in a friendly non-challenging manner, and the golfer then said, ‘fair point’, paid the money and enjoyed the rest of their day, probably thinking nothing more about it. In virtually all other industries customers are aware that the price they pay will flex based on a number of factors, including when and how they book. We as an industry need to make sure customers are educated and understand this. In this example, it is also worth noting that if you were to reserve a hotel room, pre-payment or a deposit would be the norm, this is generally not the case in golf.
Not only is the way golfers book changing, but also the time they book. Because of technology golfers can book 24/7 meaning bookings are coming in out of hours, and on a much shorter lead time. Whilst at Teeofftimes.co.uk we learnt that the average group size of an online booking was around 2.3 golfers per tee time and that around 70% of bookings were made within 48 hours of play. One of the reasons for shorter lead times is down to the mobile telephone, communication is now so easy, from creating groups in WhatsApp to booking on the go – this makes organising a round of golf quick and easy, influencing a more last minute tee time booking (not to mention the good old British weather).
If you would like to learn more about your digital golfer customer journey then please do get in touch.