“To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage” -Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Ralph was right. It’s easy to keep doing things the same way that you always have. But as the landscape of golf has changed over the last ten years, many operators have found that they’ve lost control over parts of their operation.
Here are a couple of steps to get your courses back on the right track.
Step #1: Take Control of your Customer Interface/Relationships
If you aren’t willing to do this first step, then we can stop here. This is the most crucial and essential step, and it’s so vital that I’ve written an entire blog on this topic. You can find it here (Insert link).
First and foremost, you’ve got to be 100% in control of your transactions (price, booking fees, time of day, and the number of days out). If you have control of your Customer Interface, congrats because you’re in the minority.
Step #2: Activate a Mobile Friendly Website
Be sure to understand your brand, and make sure your website is an accurate representation of your course. Don’t use stock photos of anything! Spend a few hundred dollars and have someone with a nice DSLR camera come to your course on a beautiful day. They will take high-resolution images of your course or even drone footage.
Here’s one good example:
Your website should be mobile friendly.
Today, everyone has smartphones, and a majority will find your course using their phones. A mobile-friendly site not only makes it easier for your end-user to navigate, but websites that don’t embrace mobile-friendly practices will suffer the dreaded demotion of their rank in Google’s index.
If you’re not sure if your site is mobile-friendly, test it here:
Also, your website shouldn’t be viewed as a brochure. You can view it as an employee selling tee times, gift certificates, merchandise, golf packages (your online store) while collecting email addresses, and having a newsletter signup.
Step 3: Data Capture
We go through great lengths to make sure it’s easy for your customers to purchase from you online. In doing so, we automatically capture customer data on each transaction for your future re-marketing purposes.
There will be customers that call for tee times and never visit your website. Make sure your staff is trained and even rewarded for capturing customer information if they’re not already in your customer database. But a system shouldn’t force you to enter customer information. This will only create inaccurate or junk data… we make it optional by design.
Step 4: Excite Your Audience (This is the Secret Sauce!!!)
Whether you’ve never had much of an online presence, or you’re trying to wean yourself off a 3rd party provider, you need to get your golfers excited about coming to your website and social media (ie. Customer Interface).
I would even encourage you to get ridiculous and post some crazy deals at first. This gets them talking about you to others and sharing those specials online. You can do this in the beginning to create some buzz, while still keeping your pricing integrity in check. Remember that all this revenue is coming back to you! Then when you feel like your following is consistently engaging, you should ratchet your deals and prices closer to your rack rate.
Step 5: Social Media Offers/Create Demand
Next, look to create offers or package deals in your online store where you can combine products and services. Offer them a great deal by adding value that they would typically pay full price for. For example, hotels add value by offering Free WiFi, Free Breakfast, etc.
After you post a deal, promote it through email marketing. Then, be sure to post it on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Don’t forget to add a link to each marketing medium so they can easily click to purchase the deal. Learn what posts work best, and then you can even pay to promote the ones that get the best response. (see example below)
Step 6: Make it easy to give Gift Certificates
If you want to give a gift that’s going to make the recipient happy, don’t choose a specific item for them. Give them a gift card, and there is data to back this up. The National Retail Federation reports that 62 percent of consumers prefer to receive a gift cards over pretty much anything else. And a majority of all gift card recipients will overspend the value of their card.
You can almost hear the cha-ching, can’t you? Gift cards can translate to more revenue at redemption. We make it easy to purchase, share, and even redeem gift cards from a barcode on their smartphone.
Step 7: Reinforce Your Customer Interface
Reward your golfers for booking directly with you. Encourage them to book through your website with a slightly cheaper online rate (while automatically collecting the golfer’s data).
A rewards program is also a great way to reward loyal customers while giving them a reason to provide you with their contact information. Each time they purchase something, they’ll be accumulating points towards free golf. Just be sure to keep it simple enough that the customer can easily understand how your program works.
I usually recommend one point for each dollar spent, and they need to play nine times to get the tenth round free. Each time someone plays at your course, it’s your responsibility to capture their contact information and entice them to come back again soon. A comeback coupon is an excellent way to do this.