Data will (or at least should ) drive your visitor golf strategy. In order to set a well thought through strategy, a golf course needs to be able to access historical data, and then be able to access this data on the fly to ensure that the strategy is working, and if not change it. When you have access to these things, you can visualise what you need in terms of a distribution/visitor tee time booking strategy and where to focus your attention.
Here are some the things a golf course should know:
Website statistics: Are you analysing the web traffic you are getting, what the source is (social media, Google etc), do they reach your visitor booking engine, if so how many of the visits turn into a booking and is it on the first visit? More than just web stats, you must aggregate website bookings with telephone booking. Considering this information, should highlight if running a digital advertising campaign would help drive more visitors (remember you can run a 'call extension' digital advertising campaign which will help drive telephone direct bookings). If you are already doing digital advertising, what are the campaign costs, call coverage costs, and so forth that factor into direct customer acquisition costs.
Third Party revenue/commissions/barter: I'm still surprised by how few golf courses understand exactly how much their third party business costs and what the impact of those commissions/barter times is on the bottom line. Since we know third parties are valuable for both exposure and for bookings, only when you know this can you determine what percentage to attempt to shift to the direct booking channel.
Pricing strategies: Revenue management is fluid and therefore ever changing. Understanding if you're hitting utilisation goals too quickly can help you adjust rates up. Conversely, if you're not reaching your occupancy goals, you need to look at rates, the market/competition, and your reviews—all at one time, ideally. Once you have done this you can question if more revenue should be coming from societies/longer lead bookings or is there more opportunity to sell more online (generally speaking online is where golf courses miss a trick). You of course have to consider how these strategies will impact all users of the golf course including (and in alot of cases most importantly) members.
The path to purchase: The vast percentage of website traffic disappears. They probably aren't booking in one session and they are likely visiting a third party in between. How can you become more attractive without discounting too deeply on loyalty? Speaking of which… if you're using loyalty schemes (e.g. Flexible membership or loyalty cards) to drive direct bookings, what is the effect on profits? If you are not, are you missing a trick? Also there is generally a quick win of making visitor booking engines easier to find across your digital platforms.
So once you have done this analysis you need to turn it into a series of actions:
Your visitor golf strategy is a living, breathing creature. So often golf courses look at the analytics, take note of some trends (normally provided by a third party so not taking into account the direct bookings), and then set their strategy accordingly. There is no doubt that online bookings are growing, and channel/digital optimisation is not a 'set it and forget it' proposition. Golf courses must consistently monitor and evaluate their visitor strategy, then take specific action to increase or better convert traffic. And, yet, what golf course has the resources to avoid a set-and-forget attitude? Very few, indeed.
This lack of resource is exactly why we started The Revenue Club. Our service allows golf courses to outsource the arduous tasks of analysing, revenue managing and marketing the golf course to visitors to us for a monthly subscription.
We will look at various statistics twice weekly, for example when utilisation gets too low, when REVPATT reaches a certain point, poor pickup, high revenue, and so forth. We also co-ordinate any price changes with outbound digital marketing activity such as email, Google Adwords or Social Media posts/advertising in order to maximise their impact. Pair this with tracking third party commissions and your direct web traffic, gives the golf course a much better grasp on where the visitor strategy currently is, and where the opportunity lies.
If connecting the dots between the analysis to action seems like a task your golf course does not have time for, then please get in touch and we would be happy to run a 1 month free trial with you!