Courses leverage holiday season to build revenue and relationships

December database outreach brings advantages

The golf season is long, with twists, turns and milestones. This time of year, courses both north and south are entering the “holiday zone,” where they are challenged by consumer behaviors and marketing patterns that don’t arise at any other time on the golf calendar.

Knowing this, GolfNow Plus Specialists will send unique golfer messaging during November and December. They’ll arrange email marketing and social-media promotion that leverage the economic potency of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s. The main goal is to help course partners build business during this period, whether it be revenue from golf or from other activities taking place at their facilities. But there are residual benefits, as well—more on that below.

“People are more free-spending during the holiday season,” says Business Services Plus lead Justin Bolton. “This opens up possibilities we don’t get at any other time.” Bolton points out that, generally, in holiday commerce there’s a now-or-never mentality that makes vendors more aggressive with pricing.

“Marketers of all products get bolder with price promotions,” Bolton says. “They realize you can discount a little deeper without any negative reflection on the value of what you’re selling. We’re of the opinion that courses shouldn’t pass up that opportunity.”

But on a related note, courses also should realize that holiday-season emails offering smaller percentage discounts “may struggle to get anyone’s attention,” in Bolton’s view.

In making this year-end effort work, there are proven techniques. One that Bolton and his GolfNow peers especially favor is the imbedding of promotional codes in the link a consumer clicks to take advantage of an emailed offer. “The promo code they’re going to use doesn’t have to be typed in, it loads automatically as the person gets redirected to the booking page,” says Bolton. “That prevents almost all drop-offs. And right after the purchase click, they see a ‘congratulations’ message, confirming everything.”

One other point about eye-catching offers during the holiday season: You can, and should, use them as a tool to re-engage the portion of your database that has fallen off the radar over the course of the year. As Bolton explains, many people whose emails you worked hard to acquire are “not opening, not clicking, not booking rounds, not making purchases.” That’s part of the ups and downs of database performance that you have to try to counter.

“The holiday season, because of gift-buying and because deals get particularly sweet, provides as good a chance as any to re-incentivize the people on your list who’ve gone silent,” advises Bolton. Since the next step for a database manager is to start making deletions, why not send out a jolt of promotional electricity before it’s time to purge portions of the list?

One last point on this topic: It’s the most social time of year, too, so the sharing of your promo messages on social media can spike upward. “We’ve seen course partners get an exponential increase in reach on some of their outbound communications,” Bolton says. “People see a good deal and they are likely to share that with friends and family.” In other words, Joe Golfer’s sister doesn’t know what to get her dad for Christmas, so Joe shares an offer from your course that includes a round of golf, a bottle of wine and a $50 certificate toward a new golf shirt. Sis is grateful and jumps on the opportunity. As many partner courses already know, there is a GolfNow add-on platform that handles this sort of e-commerce for you, called ItsOn.Me.

Though it’s not related to holiday giving or spending, there are some other efforts made by GolfNow Specialists this time of year, which focus on the long season that begins in springtime – the major revenue center of weddings and events. They also make a push for course reviews. “With the season winding down in the northern tier, we go into databases and push out review prompts,” says Bolton. “We insert a button into the body of the email that redirects them to GolfAdvisor or Facebook or Yelp, so with one click they can be on the proper page of that site, and very quickly post a review of the partner course.”

GolfNow Plus still seems new on the block, but the years of experience are adding up in a positive way for Bolton and his fellow specialists. “This time of year, I’m particularly glad to have been at this with many of the same courses for three or more years, and all the knowledge that comes with that,” Bolton says.

Golfers are a special breed, but come holiday time they behave much like the average person who is shopping around, looking for deals and gift ideas. Give them a chance to bring some year-end business your way.

Featured photo credit:  Getty Images

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