There is a growing trend for golf clubs in a given area to join forces and budgets to market themselves to golfing visitors and tourists. England’s Golf Coast, the North and West Coast Links, and First in Fife are all good examples of this trend, and there are plenty more groupings on the way.
Marketing as a group enables less well known clubs to benefit from higher profile neighbours; in turn all of them will benefit from more effective marketing. The success of such groups depends on
- a) The ‘product’ offered, ie. a good choice of courses in terms of profile, budget, difficulty and type of design;
- b) The marketing that pushes prospective visitors to a group website, ie. advertising, distribution channels, and PR; and
- c) The design of the group website itself.
However, the one critical tool that turns vision into reality for both visitors and clubs has to be an online tee time booking and payment system that is easy to operate from anywhere in the world.
One system that seems very popular among marketing groups is the Tee Time Manager from BRS Golf. In all of those groups already mentioned the member clubs’ websites are installed with the BRS tee time booking system. The net result is that by doing things online, it is far more efficient for all involved: the golfing visitors, the golf clubs, the tour operators. All get the certainty of booking a tee time, an e-mail confirmation, and the money paid upfront online.
Tour operator module
Because of the popularity of their online booking system and the recent success with QHotels, BRS has developed a Tour Operator module. This is a central tee time booking system designed for operators to see all available tee times of the courses in a group, and to book and pay for their customers.
BRS Golf has now signed up many well-known groups:
- The North and West Coast Links marketing group signed up with 11 of Ireland’s very best golf courses coming together to attract bookings from golfers around the world;
- England’s Golf Coast, now with 12 first class courses and several Open Qualifying courses amongst them chose the BRS system over the rest;
Several clubs within the First in Fife group are now installing the BRS Golf booking system;
- and now QHotels has awarded a major contract to BRS for a centralised booking system for its five golf courses and hotel guests, including The Westerwood – the first design from Seve Ballesteros.
Many of these clients have gone on record to explain why they opted for BRS. Eamon Mangan, a director of Carne GC, part of the North West Coast Links marketing group (www.northandwestcoastlinks.com), said, “Carne, being part of the North and West Coast Links marketing group, was encouraged to look at the BRS system, the thinking being that if we all had the same system, it would make life much easier for visitors arranging trips to each of our courses and, of course, for those with the job of managing things on a daily basis.
“It’s proved a good decision; the system’s very user-friendly and the training was so straightforward, it could be done over the phone by Brian Smith talking our girls through things while they were online. It’s also very reliable; there’s been no downtime, a point which concerned us after our previous experience. We’re starting to see strong international interest from golfers not just in Ireland, but from the UK, Europe and the USA. I have no hesitation in recommending the BRS Golf internet booking system. We’re very happy with it and it has everything that we wanted.”
For the Westerwood G&CC, part of QHotels Group (www.qhotels.co.uk), as group director of golf, one of Nic Oldham’s priorities is to maximise the golf visitor income stream, and online booking is one of the essential ways in which things can be made much easier – and certain – for the guests that want to play golf. He said, “It’s an excellent system. More and more of our guests that are looking to play golf, prefer to book online. We’re working hard to maintain a reputation for high quality, and the BRS system enables us to improve the service we offer to our golfing guests. For our members, it offers an ideal way of seeing what’s on and when they can play from the comfort of the home or office.”
From West Lancs GC, part of England’s Golf Coast marketing group (www.englandsgolfcoast.com), Stewart King said, “Being online means everything’s in real time and precise…it’s perfectly obvious to us that it is an infinitely better management tool. It’s dramatically enhanced the service and experience we can offer visitors, which is a critical aspect of our club’s operation, being one of the top golfing destinations in the North West.
“That will make life far easier for those coming from the USA or Australia, along with payment via their cards, instead of paying when they get here. That also means we get their money way upfront and in our account. And everyone’s got an e-mail to confirm the arrangements. They can also see the catering choices as well, and book whatever they want to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner! The system gives us just what we want, and all our requests for tweaks or features have been very well handled by the BRS team.”
Martyn Senior, Hesketh GC, said,”For a club like Hesketh that gets a lot of golfers making up party bookings from all around the world and from all sorts of time zones, online booking is ideal. Instead of making a phone booking with us, then ringing another local club and finding they need to change the days around, and phone again to re-arrange things – now they can do it online at their convenience and ours, and in their own time.
“The BRS system is absolutely brilliant. It tracks every booking transaction in every detail. It records any changes, which are inevitable, so that you can see the history of a booking at the click of a mouse. BRS have been very good at listening to experienced users and building in all their experiences and requests. We’ve got all three modules (the management system for the office, plus the visitors and members modules), and are using it for members to enter competitions, for visitors to book tee times and facilities like meeting rooms.
“The reports are excellent, and you can choose to itemise them e.g. for tee times or room bookings, or combine them so that you can see the bigger picture more easily as to the way the club is being used. That makes it a very powerful tool for a manager. It’s easy to set things up in the BRS system, and while there is a learning curve, it’s not difficult to get familiar with the way it does things. Their training videos are just fantastic, and so is their telephone training. We’re very pleased with BRS; they’re very flexible, they listen to what you want, and they’re such nice guys to work with. I’m very happy to demonstrate our online booking system to any golf club in the area.”
There’s more on the horizon: as those making decisions about their clubs and groups realise the value of having a system like BRS Golf’s. In advance of the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, a Welsh golf club marketing group has started discussions with BRS in pursuit of the influx of visitors during 2010.
BRS Golf www.brsgolf.com