Economic Conditions Call for 21st Century Marketing
Computers, the Internet, e-mail, and global positioning systems all are relatively new to the golf industry. The days of pencil and paper are history and if a golf facility has not yet upgraded, then its business may be history.
Poor economic conditions and a recent flood of golf course openings have resulted in more tee times than golfers with which to fill them. With a reduction in revenue, course operators will be forced to make budget reductions and marketing budgets are often the first to be cut. Operators have no choice but to look for new and creative ways to reach their customers. The good news, however, is that there is an effective way to reach customers with minimal investment and time. Several electronic tools are now available.
The foundation of 21st century marketing is a customer database. With the proper reservation software, golf operators will have the tools to build and utilize customer demographics. The reservation software should allow the operator to generate a list of e-mail addresses to be used for e-mail marketing. E-mail marketing allows course operators to specifically target their customers with timely information and specials.
A website is a must and an excellent tool for creating a captive audience. A website must be updated frequently and be informative. The ideas are endless for a golf facility website; current pricing, course layout, lots of pictures, directions, and contact information are minimal requirements.
Other software allows customers to book a tee time online, at their convenience. Most reservation software allows for integration with an online booking engine. Operators should look for an online booking system that requires minimal interaction with staff. The best online booking system works seamlessly with reservation software.
GPS yardage systems allow a facility to advertise to golfers on the course. Some facilities have enjoyed a substantial increase in food and beverage sales because of on-course advertising. GPS systems can also be used to attract large groups. Most systems offer real-time scoring and a live leader board so players can keep tabs on how others are playing in their group.
The above tools will help keep course operators on the leading edge, and will drive more golfers to fill vacant tee times. Five years ago, only a handful of people had an e-mail address, now only a handful don't.
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