As a golf course operator, it is starting to seem that reaching your consumers is getting harder than before especially with thousands of golf courses available around the world. While you can continue relying on third-party marketplaces, one move is to go direct to them.
Paradigm shift in businesses
This is not apparent only in golf but in other industries as well. Airlines and travel companies have long started going direct to consumers through online bookings and reservations while still using third-party marketplaces. Direct-to-consumer (D2C) is not something new but it surely is effective. If you manage a golf course, this could be your gameplay. After all, you get to:
- Cut out the middleman fees (like commission and other charges)
- Forge better brand loyalty and engagement
- Improve revenue
Getting started with D2C
If you are thinking of going D2C, here are some quick and easy pointers to get your golfers started. You do not need to start this as a mega project and it is good to start small and then slowly grow your site.
Benefits of booking direct
Your customers will come to your site through various means and many would come in through third-party marketplaces. When they get here, give them a reason to book directly from you the next time. They must know that there is a reason to book directly from you with certain incentives that they won’t get from third-party sites. You could try giving them a free hour at the driving range or an F&B discount.
Use a dedicated email
Disregard anyone who claims that email marketing does not work because it still does. Create a dedicated email address that connects with our customers. This will be the ‘go to’ channel to communicate all relevant information about your golf course. Take note that this is NOT the email you use for events or updates. It is all about playing golf like tee off specials and change in hole designs and such. The idea is that your members will look forward to this email instead of the usual mailing list subscriptions.
Getting your members to sign-up would surely be a challenge. Hence, you might want to use certain incentives to entice them. This could be done using free lessons, lucky draws, F&B discounts, etc
Get on to social networks
Like it or not, you cannot avoid social media like Instagram and Facebook. It is where the market congregates and has been proven to be among the most powerful media to date. Get your golfers to join your Facebook page or to follow you on Twitter. Make it known to them that there are special offers and discounts when they follow you. If they don’t, they might lose out on these incentives. Use phrases like ‘Follow us on Twitter to enjoy discounts on tee time this week!’. Meanwhile, you need to do your homework and post regularly.
What does it all mean?
One thing for sure, the third-party sites will be around for as long as it takes. What you want to do with D2C is not to deprive them of any revenue or potential income but it makes perfect business sense that you have some control of your traffic and marketing too. What you want to achieve with D2C is to reduce your dependency on third-party sites. You are looking at working together with them, not against them!