By Doug McPherson, Contributor, Golf Business
When Brian Reed describes life before he adopted tee-time waitlist technology at Simi Hills Golf Course in Simi Valley, California, it sounds a bit like the Stone Age.
“We felt like we were doing pretty good using a call-back list for customers who couldn’t find their desired time,” says Reed, Simi Hill’s general manager. “We’d take their number and call them if we had cancellations. It was hit or miss at best. Plus, we’d get what seemed like 500 calls a week asking about our tee-time availability.”
But today, Reed is feeling like his course is firmly planted in the 21st century since adopting what’s called Noteefy (pronounced notify), software that lets golfers easily find and book tee times.
“Now I can just refer our golfers to Noteefy and take that burden off the staff, while providing the golfers with an improved booking experience,” Reed says.
The bottom-line impact for Simi Hills? Reed says it’s hard to quantify exactly.
“Our utilization was already pretty high on weekends but the ability to fill late cancellations automatically makes a difference,” he says. “And our utilization during prime times went up from the mid-90% range up to close to 100%.”
Jake Gordon, founder and CEO of Noteefy, says the platform features an automated tee-time assistant / waitlist capability for courses to improve the golfer-booking experience while boosting course revenue and efficiency.
The booking assistant lets golfers input their future playing preferences; then they get real-time notifications when their desired tee time becomes available. Golfers then book on the existing point-of-sale tee sheet as they normally would and the course keeps 100% of the revenue. Gordon says courses using Noteefy are paying “anywhere between a few hundred to a few thousand a month” for the software and it’s free for golfers.
“Most operators are seeing a payback period for the full year in the first month after turning on the Noteefy platform,” Gordon says. “Many operators have used Google sheets or paper waitlists … to keep track of golfers who call and want to play on a specific day or time. Unfortunately, this is not scalable or efficient. As a result, the pro shop often dealt with endless phone calls from golfers who leave dissatisfied.”
He adds that the revenue that’s left on the table is in the form of cancellations.
Kyle Youngkin, a product owner at Gallus, another tech firm offering tee-time waitlist technology, says Gallus has a tee-time “standby” module that integrates with a course’s tee-sheet and booking engine that also offers an automated way to notify a waitlist of an opening in a desired tee-time slot.
Golfers access the course’s Gallus mobile app to select a day and time window and the number of players in their group.
“This flexibility allows users to establish multiple windows according to their preferences,” Youngkin says. “Once configured, the system operates on their behalf. When a tee time opens up that fits their criteria, they’re sent a notification immediately. Tapping on that notification takes them directly to the tee sheet where they can quickly book the time.”
Youngkin says as soon as the notification is sent, a “competitive scenario” arises with users racing to secure the slot. “This sense of urgency greatly benefits the course by ensuring the tee time is swiftly filled.”
Youngkin says he would advise course owners considering tee-time waitlist technology to understand that automation is key.
“When searching for a waitlist software, understand how it interacts with your existing software and ensure there isn’t a single additional thing you need to do out of your existing workflow for it to work properly,” Youngkin says. “Always ask yourself, ‘How much time will this save me?’ If the answer is the opposite, keep searching.”
Reed’s advice to course owners who are shopping for tee-time waitlist software: “It depends on the course’s policies. If a course already has prepaid fees and doesn’t do refunds for late cancellations, they may not see much of a bump because their no-show rate is probably lower. But for a course that doesn’t do that and has occasional no shows, it could really help. And the cost is incredibly affordable for the potential upside.”
This article was featured in the September/October issue of Golf Business Magazine.