Massive social and economic changes rocked the past few years across nearly every industry, golf included. With financial highs and lows, social distancing and health requirements, and work-from-home becoming increasingly normal, businesses of all sizes are wondering how their client base will change in the near future.
Luckily for the golf industry, the COVID-19 pandemic caused an uptick in golfers across North America thanks to its outdoor, socially-distanced nature. Unfortunately, recent economic lows are trending toward a recession in the United States, and many golfers may soon see a decrease in disposable income.
While those of us in the industry understand the value of golf, many customers may be inclined to see course and club memberships as an unnecessary expense when wallets begin to grow tighter. If you aren’t creating value for all of your members, your business may be losing loyal golfers — especially when it comes to newer customers that may not have had as many positive experiences as longer-standing clients.
The good news is that you’ve already taken a crucial first step by reading this article and seeking out knowledge: being prepared for the worst. It’s important to approach difficult situations practically and with clear eyes. Acknowledging that a recession may be coming and that your business could very well be affected by it will prevent surprises down the road.
Creating value for your golfers
Membership at any golf course or club requires financial commitment on the part of the golfer, and that’s especially true for private and semi-private courses that thrive from these memberships. Whether your membership fees are the most affordable or the most luxurious in your area, you always face the possibility that members may choose to terminate their relationship with your business.
In order to minimize that risk, it’s crucial to create value for your loyal golfers. There are dozens of ways to do this, and you may already be implementing these strategies. While golf at your course is valuable in its own right, offering additional benefits to members could be the make-or-break factor when a customer is deciding to stay or go.
Online booking and prepayment
In 2022, no one wants to have to call and speak to someone over the phone in order to book a tee time. If your booking process requires a phone call or face-to-face interaction, golfers may turn to competitors that have an easier, more streamlined process for reservations.
Setting up online and mobile tee sheets for your course is more than possible — it’s simple! Thousands of courses across North America have already implemented online booking, and the implementation process with software providers like foreUP is smooth and painless, even for the non-technical individuals at your course.
Online booking gives your golfers the power to book a tee time 24/7. That gives them more power and flexibility and leads to more reservations coming in for you because no one has to be present and available when a tee time is reserved. Additionally, eliminating the tedium of manually organizing a tee sheet gives your staff more time to focus on the neverending tasks that vie for their attention on a given day.
Hand-in-hand with online booking is the practice of requiring prepayments on tee times. foreUP research has shown that no-shows decrease by upwards of 20% when prepayment is required. That means costly no-shows will be minimized for your business and golfers are getting the tee times they pay for. Required prepayment also benefits your customers as they won’t have to stop in the pro shop before or after their round to pay — instead, they’ll be able to maximize the time spent on the green.
Subscriptions and predictable revenue
Golf subscription models are going to benefit your business, especially in uncertain financial times. Subscription models have been proven to create predictable revenue for golf courses and clubs, meaning you’ll see a consistent inflow of money while still serving your golfers. Courses that use third-party marketplaces for their tee times are likely losing out on profit due to a lack of loyal, repeat customers and a lack of smart promotions for less popular tee times.
Your business can tailor a subscription model to find your needs best. If Thursdays tend to be slow days with fewer reservations, offering subscriptions with perks on Thursdays can eliminate that dead time. Maybe your course offers free golf on Thursdays for a small additional fee to pass holders, or maybe members get a free bucket of balls for every Thursday tee time.
This model is also beneficial to golfers who have a more open schedule and are looking for the best possible time to get in practice rounds. Offering these subscription perks will be easier on their wallets and demonstrate your course’s desire to benefit loyal golfers.
Other membership benefits
There are dozens of other ways to show your golfers that you value their business and want to create excellent experiences for them.
- For loyal golfers, try offering one or multiple of the following perks:
- Small discounts at your facility’s restaurant
- Time-locked rewards, like a free course polo after 6 months of membership
- Discounts on any brands you may partner with in your pro shop
- One free beverage for every 5–10 rounds played
- Personalized coupons and messages for birthdays and anniversaries
The most important thing when providing value to your members is showing that you care about them and value their patronage. Personal touches like remembering names and special occasions or personalizing your email and text communications go a long way in increasing a golfer’s desire to keep coming back.
Facing a financial crisis as a business owner can be terrifying, but with the right tools and preparedness, you’ll be able to weather the storm with minimal damage.
Want to learn more about the industry’s best software for online tee sheets, prepayments, subscriptions, marketing, and more? Get a foreUP demo today.