In the UK and most of Ireland 2012 has been the wettest summer in 100 years, stopping many golfers from playing and, if they are visitors, from paying. How has this affected online green fee revenue, and can golf clubs protect themselves against the weather’s impact on this vital income stream?
BRS Golf, developer of the UK & Ireland’s market leading online booking and tee time management system, has compared the UK online revenue figures for 2012 to date of £3.8 million from their 720 customers, against the rainfall statistics from the Met Office.
In the graph shown above, the amount of rainfall in April, June, July, August and September was above or considerably above average and had a significant impact on online green fee revenue.
This is shown most dramatically by the total online revenue in June being reduced by as much as 30% relative to expected growth.
After June, revenue levels did not recover through July-September because the higher than average rainfall continued and many courses struggled to recover, as the water tables of their courses were already high and only a minimal amount of rain was needed to cause unplayable or nearly unplayable conditions.
Dr Brian Smith, Director of BRS Golf said: “More detailed analysis of the figures revealed that clubs that took both online bookings and pre-payments were significantly less affected by the weather, compared to clubs that only took payment on the day. The reason for this is that golfers who book online and pay in advance will either still turn up to play or call the club and move their booking to another day, rather than lose their money.
“My advice to any club that wants to make their green fee revenue as ‘weatherproof’ as possible is to collect the deposits up front, and collect full payment at the time of booking or at least 1-2 weeks in advance of play. The easiest way to do this is to allow golfers to book and pay online.
“This not only automates the process for your club but also provides the additional advantages of building a marketing database automatically, therefore allowing you to stimulate bookings via email and text message marketing when the weather is good.”
Dr. Smith continues: “Looking forward to 2013, golf clubs that want to maximise revenue even during poor weather should give their serious consideration towards moving as many bookings as possible online and taking payment in advance. If online booking is not an option, golf clubs should at least consider an administration tool that allows them to track, record and manage those deposits.
“While we can’t predict the weather, we can predict that the clubs with online bookings and pre-payments will be less affected by the weather than those without.”
BRS Golf www.brsgolf.com