As golf owners and operators continue to evaluate the golf technology landscape, more and more golf courses are evaluating their GolfNow relationship. For years, golf course owners and operators have seen reporting from GolfNow displaying how monumental their impact is in adding rounds, especially online rounds.
However, they also know that giving up their data, their lowest price and being in a one-sided relationship does not necessarily feel like the right path for their business. Here are the seven steps you can take today to leave GolfNow once and for all:
Step One: Build a direct booking strategy
Make it a focus to get golfers into the channel where you own your data, your lowest price and the direct relationship with your customer. Make sure that your best available rate (paid to you directly) is available on your website. Golfers are smart and they will find the best available option around their tee-time parameters, so make it available on your course website.
Next, make sure you have a system in place that ensures the customer data is making it into your marketing tools. Create a marketing campaign telling your golfers why booking direct is the best option and continue to offer value for booking direct.
Step Two: Understand your contract and/or agreement
This is not an agreement to breeze through the fine print. If you are serious about this move, you need to fully understand what is in your agreement and how it may impact your decision-making going forward. Most importantly, if you have signed an agreement there is likely an automatic renewal – be aware of that timing!
Step Three: Secure your customer data
Ask GolfNow for your customer data. A simple Excel file allows you to import this data into your next marketing system. This is your data and you need to secure it before exiting the agreement. You can also export this data yourself from your GolfNow Central dashboard. Simply find the export option in the settings and download the file to your computer.
Step Four: Conquer the fear
Many club operators are scared of losing GolfNow rounds. They view rounds from this channel as essential to their business and the reality is that golf course owners and operators already have a dataset that GolfNow does not, which will absolutely help them conquer this fear – this dataset is your total green and cart revenue.
GolfNow can only see what they send you in rounds and revenue, they do not understand the interrelationship to your total green and cart fee revenue. There are enough owners and operators who have made the leap and increased green and cart fee revenues immediately. Here are just a few case studies from clubs that have transitioned off of GolfNow.
Step Five: Wait……I need more help on step four
How does a club’s total revenue grow when you turn off GolfNow?
Online Golfer Buying Behavior
Golfers are like all consumers… SMART! They figure out the product they want and they search for the best deal. When you own the best price for your product, golfers will book directly with you. Check out the survey results that show golfers are more loyal to the best price rather than who provides the offer.
Recapturing Organic Traffic
If you review your end of the month GolfNow report, how many of those rounds come through your website? Or said another way, how many of those rounds would you retain if you had a different booking engine? The answer is all of them. As a golf course owner or operator, you owe it to yourself to protect your organic traffic from third parties.
We see clubs allowing for bartered hot deal times to be listed on a GolfNow booking engine that resides on a golf course’s website. Why would you allow GolfNow to profit from your organic customer traffic? If a golfer goes directly to your website, they should not be provided with inventory that nets your club zero dollars in revenue. The collection of revenue from your customer… who went to your website… is an example of competitive displacement at its apex.
Recapturing Online Positioning
What is GolfNow’s motivation to deliver search engine optimization to your golf course website? In reality, there is none. Their goal is to get golfers booking on GolfNow.com and they spend a lot of money on Google ads in an attempt to divert organic search queries for your golf course which can transition your customer into becoming their customer.
Would Marriott allow Hotels.com to build its hotel websites? No, they wouldn’t. Business 101 states that you shouldn’t allow the competition to build and host your website which is your most important marketing channel.
Recapturing Lost Revenue on Barter Tee Times
Once barter tee times are eliminated, all golf courses see an instant increase in gaining that inventory back and selling for their own profits. If you’re interested in learning what is the true cost of barter, check out this free barter calculator.
Recapturing Capabilities of Collecting All Customer Data
If you’ve made it this far, you now own the channels to book a tee time and thereby own the ability to collect customer data via automation.
By owning the direct relationship with your customers, they will no longer be marketed to your competitor’s hot deals. GolfNow’s GolfPass is yet another channel for competitive displacement. (Click Here to read more about this)
Owning and Promoting Lowest Price
Golf Courses finally own the lowest price point in the market. They own this price point through a channel they retain 100% of the revenue from. They are not selling against themselves when a third party owns their lowest rate through barter!
Step Six: Make your technology transition plans
The challenge with making the change from GolfNow is that many clubs have a GolfNow or GolfNow-owned point of sale system like EZLinks. If you want to remove GolfNow, you generally have to make a larger point of sale decision as well. We believe every point-of-sale system should offer four components:
- Cloud-based – these systems don’t require a server to live onsite, which cuts down lifetime expense for the club and allows for safer remote access to your point-of-sale system
- An open integration philosophy, or better said, they will not limit what technology companies you can work with to grow your business
- A cash model price that is priced in the $400 to $600 per month range
- Tools and partnerships to help you build your direct booking business and strategies – i.e., they do not want your data, tee times or direct marketing relationship with your customer
We have found three companies that meet these criteria – ClubCaddie, Lightspeed and ForeUp.
Step Seven: Inform GolfNow
Draft your letter, refer to your agreement’s termination window and be ready for the conversion.
Bonus Step: Repeat Step One
Did I already mention it? Build a direct booking strategy.
You are now in the position where you own your data, you own your lowest price and you own the direct marketing relationship with your customer. You are now paying cash for your point-of-sale system and you have eliminated barter! But don’t forget, the monthly expense you are incurring for your point of sale, is a FRACTION of the cost of the amount of tee time revenue you were losing each and every day through your barter relationship.
If you do not do anything else, you are already ahead. The above-mentioned point of sale companies all have products to assist with direct booking strategies.