In spite of the bleak picture painted by Plimsoll in their June 2008 golf industry health check, the internet green fee market is growing at a rate of 12.5% a week in the UK, Online Teetimes Ltd (OTL) reports today.
And contrary to recent accusations from American consultants that UK golf clubs are not business-minded, many UK golf club managers are adapting positively to the new tougher competitive conditions, and taking advantage of the yield-management benefits of OTL’s online sales channels.
The Grantham-based firm has posted some welcome good news for the golf industry, recording a 219% increase in rounds booked in the second quarter, compared to Jan-March 2008, with one golf club group alone selling over 1,600 rounds online with OTL between April and June 2008.
Pat Stanford, of Online Teetimes Ltd, said, “This is the strongest sign yet that golfers now see the internet as a major factor when looking to book a game of golf.
“In the midst of domestic inflation, high oil prices and a suspect property market, plus rising fertiliser and energy costs, industry commentators seem to think there is nothing but doom and gloom for the golf industry – particularly for golf clubs and their managers.
“But a key group of golf club operators and managers are now part of a growing success story in the industry. By using their online channels to manage their inventory, they are bringing people back to golf at an ever increasing rate – and selling at prices which work for both the club, and the consumer.”
Through its own consumer website www.teetimes.co.uk, and partner sites such as www.direct-teetimes.co.uk, www.golfbidderteetimes.co.uk and the ‘Golfmagic Teetimes‘ service on www.golfmagic.com, Online Teetimes‘ business has doubled every five to six weeks since the start of the year – and July 2008 will be the company’s best trading month to date.
The company has also reported rapid second quarter increases in total online bookings, and number of individual customers.
Teetimes.co.uk and the other OTL partner websites offer golfers the fastest way to book golf on the internet, plus the widest choice of courses with live tee time deals.
Golfers book their golf online with no booking fee and pay at the club when they turn up to play. The golf club gets 100% of the revenue from web bookings.
Stanford continued, “Our golf club customers already know that – at some levels – it is already a buyers market for green fees and society bookings.
They recognise that every empty tee time that goes by unsold is a revenue opportunity gone forever. And what’s more, they know that a quiet golf course means weaker incremental sales in the pro shop and at the bar.
“You would expect the major commercial club operators to adopt new strategies as their web options become more cost-effective, but we find it particularly exciting that dynamic individual club managers like those at Fishwick, Stanmore and Standish Court, to name but three from a long list, are embracing online tee time bookings with open arms.
“Most of all, golf clubs are now thinking in a different way, and they are seeing online booking numbers grow month on month as a result. These clubs and groups have given themselves a commercial edge in the market place by successfully adapting online sales methods and yield management skills pioneered by airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair, to the golf market.
“The web, intelligently used, is now a proven benefit for both golfers and golf club operators.”
More than 240 UK clubs now sell green fees online with through OTL’s online distribution channels. Increasing numbers of clubs now see the online tee time market as a more effective marketing option than 2 for 1 style voucher schemes, and are attracted by the simplicity of the administration and the pricing flexibility it allows.
Online Teetimes: www.onlineteetimes.co.uk