Technology provides perfect platform for online tee time company to grow
LEADING online golf provider GolfNow has revealed an impressive 33 per cent increase in tee time bookings across Ireland during 2016.
The Belfast-based company, which is owned by the Golf Channel, enables golfers to easily book tee times online or via their mobile devices, whilst providing technology, support and marketing services to golf clubs using the platform to help boost sales.
Last year, GolfNow generated a total of €600,000 for more than 230 courses in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
GolfNow Vice President Brian Smith said: “One of our core goals at GolfNow is to grow the game of golf and to help us achieve this, we’ve invested heavily over the past two years in our mobile platform and in our Belfast operations, growing our team from 29 to 71. It is great to see this investment paying off.
“The modern day golfer expects to be able book golf from anywhere in the world, with a few clicks of a button and at their convenience. Our investment in this area has been a huge success with 66% of bookings in 2016 coming through our mobile platform with improved engagement and increased repeat bookings.
“We are passionate about getting golfers off their sofas and onto the fairways and we believe that with the right technology, lots of choice for the golfer in terms of golf courses, tee time availability and price points to suit everyone’s budget coupled with an aggressive marketing campaign, that we can grow the game of golf,” he added.
Mr Smith said that working more closely with golf courses and growing online traffic through increased marketing were also key factors in the company’s success last year.
“Growing our customer service, account management and training teams to over 30 team members has also been a crucial investment,” he explained. “We have made it our mission to educate our partner golf courses on the benefits of dynamic pricing, maximizing availability and how best to leverage the GolfNow technology. As a result, many courses in Ireland have experienced a 70-80% increase in bookings.
“These can be the result of simple changes, such as opening up a few more tee times to visitors on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon after member competitions finish, or making sure that twilight times, nine-hole rates and fourball specials are available online.
“Ultimately varying prices to match demand will get the best results. This is not about discount golf, it is about finding the right price at the right time. Our team in Belfast is dedicated to this goal and it creates a win-win for our customers, the game of golf and GolfNow.
“Marketing the GolfNow brand has also been very important in driving bookings,” continued Mr Smith. “Ultimately there is no point in having great technology, availability and pricing if golfers don’t know about the GolfNow brand, which has been our biggest challenge in the last three years.
“A few years ago our focus was primarily on email but in 2016 we embraced social media, TV advertising, public relations, golf shows, strategic partnerships, and increased our exposure to the US audience through Golf Channel, Golf Advisor and GolfNow. This has allowed us to grow traffic to our sites by over 30 per cent in 2016 and reach an audience of 8 million interested in the sport.
“Increased traffic with the right technology, tee time availability and price points results in increased bookings and ultimately much needed revenue for our golf courses,” concluded Smith.
Marcus Doyle, Director of Golf at the famous Druids Glen Golf Club, said that GolfNow has definitely helped the County Wicklow course to generate bookings.
“We work with a dynamic team in GolfNow that matches our approach to pricing and marketing at Druids Glen,” said Marcus. “The ability to be dynamic in our pricing has led to increased revenue and GolfNow‘s worldwide platform has brought increased sales from tourists and travelling golfers. It’s also more user friendly for the customer and faster than email or telephone calls with less demand on our staff.”
Whilst GolfNow is still relatively new side of the business, its technology platform and support team at BRS Golf has been supporting golf clubs and facilitating member bookings for years. Last year alone, BRS Golf helped to facilitate a staggering 3.56 MILLION golf club member and visitor bookings in Ireland – an increase of more than 150,000 year on year.
“In recent years, we have seen the number of member bookings surge via BRS Golf, which frees up valuable administration time in the office and pro shop,” said Brian Smith. “For us to increase member bookings by 150,000 and facilitate a total of 3.56 million rounds for our 320 Irish customers is a fantastic achievement and tells us that current members are playing more, which is very encouraging.”
Founded in 2001 with headquarters in Orlando, USA, GolfNow operates in more than 16 countries and provides tee-time access to more than 9,000 courses for more than 3.5 million registered users worldwide. BRS Golf was founded in 1995 by Northern Ireland golf fanatics and IT experts Brian and Rory Smith, and was acquired by GolfNow in June 2013. This strategic alliance gave the local company global status, becoming a division of the Golf Channel television network and positioning it as one of the leading providers of golf technology in the world. The company is based in Belfast where it employs more than 70 staff.