Third party tee time services have been discussed at length over the past ten years. Industry forums, NGCOA guidance documents, and articles have analyzed the pro’s and con’s at length.
Don’t have time to read this today, but want to use a quick calculator to get the real cost of the bartered tee time system? Click here
What have we learned?
Well, the main hook for a golf course is that they get something of perceived value by bartering a few tee times each day. Typically the item of value for a golf course is a marketing package, software product, online booking engine, or a combination of these products and services. These are offerings that a golf course could not afford to purchase or design / build for themselves. This sounds like a great deal, right?
Let’s look at the main motivation for third parties.
Third party tee time systems have traded services or products to obtain the rights to your perishable tee times. The closer time gets to an unsold tee time, the more likely that tee time may go unused. No big surprise here – the third party vendors are solely motivated to sell these tee times at whatever rate they can get before the clock runs out. This is in conflict with how golf courses are motivated to price the same product. A golf course has a value-based pricing strategy, where they try to maintain the integrity of their golf course’s value so a customer sees the value in paying full price for a round of golf.
To make matters worse, creative marketers have purchased and devised websites to dump distressed tee times, channels for consumers to go find rock bottom prices. Website assets, email programs, and marketing lists all created to just sell off distressed tee times.
Problem 1: Third party retailers have no motivation to maintain a golf course’s value.
Let’s look at what flash sales do to the mindsets of Golfers.
Consumers are smart. Golfers are smart. They like deals. Like us, they prefer holding on to their money and avoiding perceived losses – a behavioral scientist would call this “loss aversion”.
A lot of golfers have been trained by third party tee time systems to stall on booking tee times to avoid losses. They have experienced golf at your course at a lower cost through these third party systems. Now they see paying your advertised price for a tee time as a “loss” when they know they can get your greens fee for less.
They go to the selection of sites and sign up for the e-distribution of this inventory. They wait. They don’t book direct with the course anymore. They just wait. Then they make their purchase decision on the deal of the day, the smoldering deal, the deal that helps them feel like they are avoiding missing out on paying less for the value you’ve worked hard to create! They will even change their preferred time of play for the deal to avoid that feeling of loss. Now, to be fair, not all golfers fall into this group. However, this golfer segment is growing with the advent of third party marketers working harder to get their attention.
Problem 2: Third party retailers are training Golfers to go to them to book tee times.
Here are some doozies that took us less than 10 minutes to find online:
Note: Third party marketers try to direct traffic to their deals using Google Adwords campaigns to scoop up search traffic generated by the golf clubs in your area. Try this one day, Google your city name and “golf” and see what paid ads show up at the top and on the right-hand sidebar of the search results page. Here is an example:
Get Back on Course!
There is a way to take back control of your course operation. You can control your pricing, who gets what deal, and even collect the revenue from the deal INSTEAD of handing it over to the third party system. Do your own marketing. Control your own rates and pricing channels. Don’t leave it up to a third party company to decide your fate and what you look like to the consumer. You control it, and we can help!
At Teesnap, we designed a product and service that will help you run your golf course and take back your marketing. We know you don’t have time to do everything, so we’ve built tools and include professional services to help you take back control of your channels. You don’t have to throw away tens of thousands of dollars each year to a third party to manage, operate, and excel in the marketplace!
Ready to learn how much those “free” third party systems are really costing you?