Online Teetimes Ltd (OTL) (www.onlineteetimes.co.uk) enables golf clubs to sell available tee-times directly to millions of golfers via the internet with a unique mass-market distribution model.
The company has used the strapline ‘Others talked about it. We did it.’ in an email marketing campaign this week, sent to over 2,000 golf clubs in the UK. And it claims that golf clubs using its service will be able to market their tee times on some of the UK’s largest consumer websites.
OTL already sells hundreds of green fees a week for dozens of golf clubs in Ireland through its highly-successful own brand www.teetimes.ie . The company claims a 15% penetration of the Irish golf club market and rapid growth following successful implementation of the zero-commission model.
Already operational for two years in Ireland, the model has had a significant effect on the revenues of some clubs, with the most successful generating more than £32,000 in the last 12 months alone from the sale of 1,321 rounds online.
The company is to launch in England, Scotland and Wales this summer – the first time UK golfers will be able to find and book so many green fees in one location.
Online TeeTimes Ltd managing director Paul Heeney, a former PGA professional, said today, “There is no doubt that advancements in technology over the past few years have facilitated the development of online booking but OTL is a sales and distribution company focused on generating sales rather than facilitating sales.
“Our ‘barter’ arrangement with clubs means that clubs do not pay monthly or annual fees and of course they receive 100% of the green fee revenue for times sold through our site as we do not take any commission.”
Carol Scanlon, who is responsible for sales and marketing at St Margaret’s GC, a championship course just outside Dublin that has hosted the Irish PGA Championship and the Irish Seniors Open, said, “Online TeeTimes has brought us in a lot of extra business since we started using their service to sell our available tee times.
“We are completely in control of the times and rates we offer via Online TeeTimes website; we can put up our own special offers and early bird rates, and do so several weeks in advance.
“Visitors tell us how easy it is to make a booking and it’s very easy for us to see how busy we’re going to be and how we may need to manoeuvre our allocation of tee times and rates.”
Paul Heeney added, “Our ultimate goal is to bridge the gap, in an easy to use way, between courses with tee-time availability and golfers seeking choice and/or value-for-money.
“From our experiences in Ireland we know this will take some time to achieve but the experience we have learned over the past four years means we are in a position to help clubs generate revenue from day one.
Patrick Bradshaw, general manager of Blainroe GC, near Wicklow Town, and the current president of the Club Managers Association of Europe, started using OTL at the beginning of February 2006. He said, “The impact has been quite dramatic. We are filling our available Saturday tee times with 4 to 5 groups of four balls at the full weekend rates with no problem at all.
“There are so many golfers who can’t or don’t want to join as a member, and Online TeeTimes is the ideal way for clubs like ours to tap into that market. We are currently allocating around 200 tee times a month and our confidence in Online TeeTimes is such that we’ll be giving them a year’s allocation soon.
“What’s really interesting is that 95% are local golfers, the kind that will return again and again, as opposed to tourist business which tends to be one time only.”
The growth and success of the business in Ireland is a key part of the company’s sales message to UK golf clubs and the Grantham, Lincs-based management team at OTL UK is now seeking to expand significantly the number of user clubs in the UK.
Pat Stanford of OTL UK said, “There is a lot of activity in the online tee-times market, but we believe our model is the best by far for clubs. Zero commission and zero fees are pretty hard to beat. We are actively seeking partnerships with forward-looking clubs who want to take advantage of our expertise in this market and move their revenues ahead.”
In Ireland, thousands of golfers (the largest golfer database in Ireland) receive twice-weekly emails from OTL, containing immediately-available green fee deals from OTL and information and special offers from Irish golf clubs.
OTL UK is placing a similar emphasis on consumer email marketing and is currently acquiring the largest opt-in golfer database in the UK.
Pat continued, “Convenience and simplicity is the key to our service, whether you are the golfer booking a round or the club that’s allocating the rounds. Once golfers realise there is an online service out there offering real value and choice, on courses they want to play, the interest builds very quickly.
“And once that interest builds, golf courses, clubs and operators realise this is the very best way to sell tee times that might otherwise remain unfilled.”
The OTL distribution strategy has seen them ‘white label’ the teetime booking engine for a number of high profile partners, including Aer Lingus (www.aerlingusgolf.com) so enabling golf clubs teetimes to be seen and booked across a large number of websites.
In the UK, OTL will be distributing golf club tee times in a similar way, using a wide network of large consumer websites to sell green fees, in addition to its own consumer-facing website, to be launched in late summer 2006.
Groups of courses can also use the OTL system to create their own regional booking engine, using their own livery and branding.
Paul Heeney said, “This is a great way for golf courses to get together and market themselves collectively. They might be part of a consortium or simply keen to grow golf tourism and business in their region. In Wicklow, five courses and several local hotels are using OTL to successfully market golf breaks in their area to a worldwide audience at www.wicklowgolf.com
“The bottom line is that the UK golf club market has seen many attempts by companies to launch online tee times booking services.
“We are the only online tee times company to launch such a service with a proven success behind us in another country and we believe that this, combined with our zero-commission, zero-fees, mass-distribution model, makes us clearly the best option for any golf club wishing to increase green fee revenues.”
Online Teetimes Ltd www.onlineteetimes.co.uk