The Pellucid Perspective - November 2010 - (Page 4)

TEE TIME MARKETING A primer on third party tee time marketers Who are they, what do they do and how to decide if they are for you By The Pellucid Perspective Staff G olf ’s global issues are well documented — the golf course supply/demand imbalance, declining participation rates in the Gen-X and Gen-Y segments particularly, the deadly time-money-difficulty considerations, and the current state of the economy, to name a few. Excluding those long term issues, the topic most frequently cited by golf course owners and operators today which is shaping industry economics, and one which is more readily addressed, is the role of third party tee time marketers (TPMs) as a productive way to sell more of a facility’s available tee times. The quantitative results of the survey we circulated can be found in the five tables accompanying this article. As a starting point, we sought to compare and contrast a number of the major providers on the following basic dimensions: tions, positioning (convenience, price or both) and consumer loyalty and services programs. 5. Facility-facing features, as measured by the payment options for services and how the joint customer relationships are handled. Primary flashpoints in the debate about TPMs, pro or con 1. Marketing/network reach, as measured by number of participating courses, number of URLs and size of affiliate networks. 2. Breadth of services, as measured by the number of services they offered to participating facilities. 3. Tee sheet connectivity breadth, as measured by which and to how many tee sheets they have electronic interfaces written for. 4. Consumer-facing services, as measured by reservation op- Reach 3rd Party Provider Active EZLinks Fore Reservations Golf 18 Network Golf Sigma Golfer's Guide GolfNow GolfSwitch Tee Time Watch Teemaster W5 # of Part. Facilities 1,500 900 1,800 300 3,070 200 2,365 1,256 550 56 26 # of URLs Owned 0 4 8 50 1 4 533 20 12 1 2 # of Affiliate Sites <25 <25 <25 None None None 500+ 500+ <25 None None Scope Nat'l Nat'l Nat'l Nat'l Nat'l Reg'l Nat'l Nat'l Nat'l Reg'l Reg'l The debate over use of an outside agency to help market a facility’s tee times touches on a number of issues. The one most frequently cited is rate integrity — whether times sold on a TPM site are discounted or even in some cases given away, thus training a course’s customers to seek out discounted times rather than paying the course’s rack rate or posted discounts on the course’s site such as twilight rates or other off-peak rates the course may be offering. Customer behavior is central to a related golf course concern — namely, who owns that customer’s information and, essentially, the hearts and minds of those golfing consumers? If a TPM sends the operator “X” number of players, that’s good, right? Well, yes, but if those players then receive regular marketing messages from that outside agency advertising not only your course, but available times at all your competitors’ courses, perhaps that’s not so good? All of the TPMs we surveyed indicated that they will provide, in one form or another, the customer information to the facility where the customer books a tee time through their service. Two providers, Fore Reservations and The Active Network, take the position that all customer information belongs exclusively to the facility, and do not market their services to those customers. In the case of the other providers, the facility obviously has the option to market its own tee times and try to train customers to use the facility’s web site to find the best rates. While some courses do just that, others are reluctant to commit the effort and resources to make that a priority, and opt to allow the TPMs to market their times, albeit not exclusively. How do third party providers work? The accompanying responses to the “What is your transactional relationship with the golf course?” question demonstrate that there are a wide variety of ways third party providers are compensated for the tee times they book, or sell. Barter, or trade, is one increasingly common method of payment, as many courses struggle with cash flow in the current economy. In those cases, November 2010 4 The Pellucid PersPecTive

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - November 2010

The Pellucid Perspective - November 2010
Examining the Third Party Tee Time Marketing Issue
A Primer on Third Party Tee Time Marketers
Some Cities Willing to Buck Declining Golf Trend
Feel Golf Head Defies New Wedge Rules
Washington DC/Northern VA Profile
Oct YtD Weather Impact Sep YtD Utilization
Mixed Financial Results for Q3 and September YtD
Heard it Through the Grapevine

The Pellucid Perspective - November 2010