Greenfee365.com: How the golf industry can survive coronavirus

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick April 23, 2020 14:47

The team behind online booking platform Greenfee365.com believe that if the golf industry offers more digital payment options and markets to local golfers it will survive and even thrive during the post lockdown period.

Since going live in 2019 Greenfee365.com has enjoyed great success in helping golf courses connect with golfers across Europe. In its first year alone, it reached an audience of over five million golfers and has become the number one OTA (online travel agency) in terms of green fee sales on the markets they operate.

Having just launched its service to UK clubs, so far Greenfee365.com has signed up various venues including Old Thorns, The Vale, The Oxfordshire, Aspley Guise & Woburn, Hesketh, Crown Golf group, Market Harborough Golf Club, Guildford Golf Club, Kidderminster Golf Club, Redlibbets Golf & Country Club, Whitefield Golf Club and over 40 more clubs that will be activating in this initial phase.

We spoke with Greenfee365’s Marcus Ekeberg and Alex McIver to get their thoughts on the current situation regarding the Covid-19 crisis and what the future will hold for the golf industry.

Q: How does Greenfee365 feel about the crisis?

Marcus: As with everyone else in this industry we feel the severe drop in bookings at the moment, but we do everything we can in order to keep golfers engaged with our partner clubs. We invest a lot in keeping a high profile internationally with a solid presence in the different markets that we operate in.

Q: From a sales perspective, what should clubs be doing now to be best prepared for when the current crisis is “over”?

Marcus: This really is an opportunity to digitally transform the industry, automate internal processes especially sales and revenue management. I also think the paradigm-shift in golf will come even faster as consumer behaviour is changing dramatically. Golf courses are going to want more flexibility, cashflow and control. Cashflow is something I personally think holds a tremendous value for golf courses, they shouldn’t be last to get paid or need to invoice their sales partners. I really think it should be the other way around. I also think it’s important for golf courses to capture new customers and data not only visitors, which is why we offer our partner clubs a free sales and marketing dashboard to easily view relevant KPIs and make informed decisions.

Generally speaking, it’s going to be vital to go online as golfers will expect this now more than ever.   Not just in your own channels because traffic generation is expensive, and courses will need to consolidate expenses in the short term. Therefore it is important to work with a good mix of external sales channels that you control, like Greenfee365.

Q: How do Greenfee365 keep golfers engaged with all of their golf course partners?

Marcus: We have a sophisticated hyper-targeting model that we have been working with for many years to help golfers easily find the golf course they are looking for. Combining that model with smart campaigns and activities we promote all of our partners in different ways. Everything from our newsletters, partner network to fun and engaging campaigns in social media.

Something that sets Greenfee365 apart from many other sales platforms is that we actively invest in every golf course activated on Greenfee365. Even if initially we don’t generate bookings, we spend real money on promoting all the individual golf courses in various ways and in 11 languages. We also have the financial muscle and stamina to keep that going even in the current crisis.

Q:  What do the next six to 24 months look like in terms of the golf industry as courses begin to reopen?

Alex: Right now, we don’t know how people will travel when this is over, but we do know golfers across Europe are really looking forward to visit courses again. Golf venues will hopefully be able to reopen within the next two months, although international visitors will be limited and so courses will face a challenge in terms of attracting locally-based players.

Q: Given the restrictions on travel, what do you propose courses should focus on in this new reality?

Alex: Clubs need to think about exploiting their primary asset, the course itself within the limitations of the protocols that will inevitably be in place for a long time. They could open their course to non-players perhaps allowing them to walk around the course with playing partners to enjoy the beautiful scenery in a safe, open environment. Golf courses will need to be ready to compete for local golfers, so they will have to make sure that their course is easily bookable online, via their website as well as on third-party platforms such as greenfee365.com. To go digital is more important than ever.

Q: Do you think courses should lower / discount their prices / tariffs?

Alex: We think clubs should avoid any heavy discounting, especially to societies, local tour operators, or any other stakeholder. Defend your prices and brand. If you begin to discount, you’ll only worsen the situation long-term, damage your cashflow and will probably only end up in the same situation. Instead, clubs should be focused on improving their value and promoting their USPs: golfers will want to play golf in the places where they are treated the best, play courses that are well maintained and offer a unique experience. There are many areas in which courses could improve their product and experience which will make the difference in attracting more golfers.

Q: Are there any other ways courses can maintain revenue and how can Greenfee365 help?

Alex: There will be new opportunities to cross-sell other relevant products on the club’s digital channels: they could offer delivery of their F&B offering, or pre order a packed lunch to pick up on arrival or departure. They could offer virtual lessons from the golf academies and their pro -shop should definitely go ‘online’. At Greenfee365.com, we can support any new initiative in this sense and promote it on the club’s profile page, or as we have done more recently organise specific marketing campaigns for clubs that would like to make such offerings. We can sell them online as we have done with our online coaching service, or our targeted campaigns with Troon Golf and other golf clubs around the world. This crisis presents challenges as well as opportunities, so now is the perfect time to improve your product and service.

Greenfee365 Europe AB is an official partner of the CMAE, member of IAGTO and connects golf clubs with golfers from over 15 European markets. Free to join, the service is 100 per cent performance-based on sales generated.

For more information, contact Alex McIver, head of business development

emailalex.mciver@greenfee365.com

tel: (0034) 693 038 098

The booking platform: www.greenfee365.com

More information for golf clubs: www.join.greenfee365.com

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick April 23, 2020 14:47
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