Note: My last two blog posts were about the Tee Sheet Wars. I don’t have a dog in that fight so my views are relatively unbiased. This post is about a related topic… 3rd Party Tee Time Booking Sites. In the interest of full disclosure, please be aware that we are introducing GroupLooper® Booking this year so you may decide to take my comments on this topic with a grain of salt… but hopefully you will find that my aim is true.
During the past few weeks, I’ve been watching some of the PGA Tour events leading up to the US Open. During the Memorial Open last week, I realized that I had a tune playing over and over in my head … Elvis Costello’s All This Useless Beauty (circa 1995).
I never even liked that song much, but I always did admire the powerful poignancy of the phrase… “what shall we do with all this useless beauty?”.
So… what inspired this flashback?
It wasn’t Paulina Gretzky… DJ missed the cut so she wasn’t even in view on the weekend telecast.
Rather, it was the barrage of commercials from GolfNow, TeeOff.com and GolfBook that litter the airwaves during every PGA Event these days.
We now have three media behemoths (Golf Channel, PGA Tour and CBS Sports) competing for the hearts and minds of every golfer looking to book a tee time. Their ads are reasonably clever and their websites are plastered with beautiful graphics and pictures of pristine fairways and impeccably manicured greens.
But… does GolfNow actually do anything that causes people to play more golf? TeeOff.com? Ok, GolfBook is at least offering features that make it easy for bookers to invite others to join their foursomes, but that’s hardly groundbreaking stuff… GroupLooper has been doing that since day one.
And consider this… can you afford to pay for national TV advertising? Because if you’re listed on one or more of these sites it’s the revenues from your trade times or the hefty commission rates you’re paying that is funding those ads. Don’t be fooled into thinking that these media company-owned sites get those ads “for free”… some bean counter in media central is keeping track of the opportunity cost that those ads represent and that is being factored into what needs to be earned to hit the corporate ROI targets.
At least you’re getting your brand promoted to the masses, right? Oh, wait a minute… those ads don’t mention you, do they? They are designed to pump up the brand of the 3rd party distributor so that they can occupy the space between you and golfers… that’s called disintermediation where I come from. Most successful companies don’t pay to help other parties steal their customer relationships.
What’s a poor golf course operator to do? Should you just avoid participating in 3rd party sites completely? But what about all the eyeballs that they attract that supplement your individual market reach? You might feel that you need that incremental business to survive.
And if you look at this from the golfer’s viewpoint… many of them certainly appreciate having sites available where they can find and book tee times at lots of different courses… that’s massively more convenient than having to hop from course website to course website or from phone number to phone number when they want to play an away game.
Our GroupLooper team is confident that we’ve come up with a better mousetrap design for a 3rd party tee time booking site… one that gets you all the benefits of more eyeballs on your product but that doesn’t come with the negative side effects.
The key differentiators of our solution are:
- A relentless focus on building features that help golfers play more often… we’ll be gradually rolling out a half dozen features in the next year all designed to achieve job one… growing the game. If we can squeeze just a few extra rounds a year out of a high percentage of golfers we can create a rising tide that could lift all boats.
- A ruthless efficiency that enables us to charge significantly lower prices and still earn sustainable profits. An example of our penchant for producing more with less is our strategy of teaming with local and regional golf publications to leverage existing pathways to large numbers of ‘eyeballs’… without any expensive advertising.
- A commitment to supplement your brand, not supplant it. We enable you to bring more value to your customers and we allow your brand to stay in the limelight… we play a supporting role.
All those platitudes may sound a little vague, but mark The Gadfly’s words… as we roll out more of the details of GroupLooper® Booking and other features in the coming months we’ll deliver on all of these promises.
Which leaves us with a dilemma… once a high percentage of courses pledge their allegiance to GroupLooper® services… what shall we do with all this useless beauty created by our media friends?