Comment: Golf clubs do not have the luxuries that train operators do

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 13, 2011 14:26

Comment: Golf clubs do not have the luxuries that train operators do

Just like the average member of, or visitor to, a golf club, the economic situation of the last few years has not left me with no money, but it has changed the way I have approached personal expenditure. In short, if I have a choice over something I spend money on, then, more than ever, I will only commit to buying if I’m convinced that it represents good value.

This mindset resulted in me sending an email recently to my local train operator, enquiring as to what options are available to commuters who would like to pay a little less for their train travel into London, particularly as I keep learning that the equivalent railway journeys into many other major European cities are often several times cheaper. What I wanted was an annual ticket that reflected my own personal requirements; I only use the trains Monday to Friday and therefore would be more than willing to pay less if the ticket excluded weekend travel.

Within a few hours I received a reply: ‘Our annual season tickets represent such good value for money that you effectively get free weekend travel anyway, so we do not offer and will not be introducing this option’.

If I, having applied to join a golf club, had asked about a flexible membership subscription in which I only paid for weekday golf, and was told I didn’t need one because what currently exists represents such good value for money, then I would be very tempted to tear up the application and join the nearest golf club that did offer this instead.

There’s one obvious difference between the business model of a golf club and of a train operator: if a consumer wants to travel by train then he or she has effectively no option but to use the only operator available, and therefore there is no incentive for that train operator to differentiate in order to secure the business. A golf club clearly does not have this luxury.

In a world where clubs have never been so competitive to get custom, differentiating by offering deals such as reciprocal schemes (where members can play a limited number of free or discounted rounds of golf at selected other clubs) and flexible subscriptions could well be the route to members signing up because they feel they have got what they craved the most: value for money.

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 13, 2011 14:26
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