It has been a while since I have posted an article, and my goal in 2022 was to communicate in the context of education, facts and information; however, sometimes you need to take a stand to make your industry more aware of detrimental business practices.
Below is a story of a GolfNow interaction with a customer that gives a great perspective of the Company’s business practices and strategies. A strategy that is focused around selling barter/trade times which generate only GolfNow revenue and not golf course revenue.
The story below is the epitome of what is wrong with our industry and only builds on a long-standing culture of GolfNow promoting their interest over their clients and golf customers.
This experience was shared by a gentleman named Casey Bourque on his LinkedIn page. For the past fifteen years or so, Casey has worked in sales & marketing, but in a past lifetime, Casey was an Assistant Golf Professional at a club I was working for when I was a teenager. We stayed in touch, and he shared a recent experience below.
Casey is no slouch of a golfer either, qualifying for the 2004 US Open; therefore, Casey has a foundational knowledge of the golf business and its intricacies.
Like many customers, Casey was interested in booking a foursome of golf online. He searched for courses he was exploring and found inventory (i.e., tee times) that gave him the best value for the time he was looking for on a third-party tee time platform.
GolfNow owns both GolfNow.com and TeeOff.com, the largest aggregate tee time platforms in the marketplace, and both routinely offer lower pricing through these platforms than the golf courses they work with. This is common in any scenario that a club is bartering tee times.
The tee time he bought was a prepaid tee time through a GolfNow aggregate platform, but he was comfortable paying upfront for the tee time. Unfortunately, four days before his tee time, two in his party could not make the tee time and he proceeded to cancel that time.
Here is the post from his LinkedIn page.
The resolution above is what GolfNow provided to Casey after his first call. After being dissatisfied with the initial resolution and persistent, Casey called back and spoke to a different rep, who decided to give Casey full credit to be used on a hot deal time within 6 months. It is obviously extremely time-consuming for customers to continue to call GolfNow with issues as such.
Eventually, Casey as a customer achieved a more palatable situation, but is this the customer experience we want? How many other customers would have the background that Casey does to continue to follow up and get themselves into a better position?
The initial resolution offered to Casey points to GolfNow’s continued strategies of driving their revenues via their trade times. GolfNow from their days in 2016 where they sang rap videos about “we sell trade by the boatload” (see JJ Keegan’s website) seems to be continuing with the same culture and philosophy, one that promotes selling the tee times that make the golf industry $0 in revenue.
So, what is wrong with this initial resolution? The answer, A LOT!
1. Casey, the customer, only bought the tee times on a third-party aggregate platform because this is where he found the best value. Therefore, the course was competing against GolfNow.
When courses give their best rate to an aggregate platform through a barter relationship, they are creating competitive displacement for a customer like Casey.
Casey booked the tee time, the revenue went to GolfNow, and the cycle of competitive displacement commences. Think about how many times a year this happens if you trade tee times through platforms like GolfNow.com and TeeOff.com?
2. Who collected Casey’s foursome data? The answer, GolfNow. GolfNow will use this customer information for remarketing purposes to push their products and barter times at competitor courses, furthering the competitive displacement of a golf courses customer.
3. Casey needed to cancel his tee time. Casey readily admits that he did not read the fine print of the cancellation policy (or in his case, he was exposed to terms like “worry-free tee times” which imply flexibility giving him a comfort level to book but in the fine print give very little flexibility). Casey knows the industry, so he knows these resolutions were GolfNow decisions; however, we all know many times there is confusion around this, and the customer associates this negative experience with the golf course.
4. Golf Course Owners and Operators Need to Read this One! Let’s go back to the first resolution that was offered. Per Casey, the $20 promo code credit that was offered can only be applied to deals through GolfNow (i.e., only through channels that drive revenue to GolfNow and not the golf course).
What happened here is GolfNow has taken a canceled tee time opportunity and built a business strategy to reimburse customers in a way that would drive more rounds and revenue to them and away from the golf course!
This is an absolutely incredible strategy to continue the competitive displacement of a golf courses customer by forcing them to book deals through their aggregate platform in twelve different transactions that are only available on barter discounted times promoting the continued revenue for GolfNow.
GolfNow presents itself as a partner to golf courses Are they helping this course drive revenues by giving them access to their network of golfers? Or has every single strategy along the way been an act to further the competitive displacement of a golf courses customer and promote the GolfNow aggregate channels?
Let us finish off with a simple scenario. If the golf course in question did not list their tee times with an aggregate third party, what is the likelihood Casey would have booked a tee time directly with the course?
The answer is 97%.
Check out article #5 in the Taking Our Golf Back Article Series which outlines this data and provides more information on Brown Golf’s exit from all third parties.
In summary, there is a movement happening. Golf Course owners, operators, and customers are tired of these business practices.
There is a reason that POS companies like Club Caddie, Lightspeed, and ForeUp are taking market share away from GolfNow. There is a reason that companies like GolfBack , Sagacity, and Metolius Golf are growing with their data-driven solutions and platforms.
If you outsource the responsibility to fill your tee sheet to GolfNow.com and TeeOff.com, you will inevitably experience the competitive displacement of your customers. The power of owning your lowest price, your customer data, 100% of your online green & cart fee revenue, and the direct relationship with your customer is what will change our industry.
Ask any of the clubs that have switched to GolfBack who removed their tee times from third parties – ask what has happened to their business.
We have a tailwind behind our backs in this industry and now is the time to take advantage and slam the door on these detrimental practices once and for all.