In the second of a 3-part series of articles, Promote Training, the golf club management eLearning specialists, look at the principle of encouraging repeat-play from visitors using a loyalty card mechanism.
The first and arguably most important green fee promotion to implement are the promotions that encourage loyalty and repeat-play at your course.
There are broadly three themes to increasing any green fee revenue:
- Attracting new golfers
- Encouraging repeat golfers
- Increasing average value
If you plough straight into a promotional campaign that aims to attract first-time golfers to your club, you won’t have the benefit of the incentive mechanism to encourage their repeat custom after they’ve played the course.
Let’s take a look at one great promotion that encourages repeat-play and customer loyalty – the green fee Loyalty Card.
Loyalty Card Concept
Loyalty cards are not a new concept in either the golf industry or wider retail and hospitality sectors. I’m sure many people have a loyalty card or two tucked away in their wallets or purses!
The concept is simple – buy a product or service multiple times and after x number of purchases, receive one for free.
A well implemented, on going loyalty card scheme can work extremely well for any golf course – either pay and play or semi-private.
An effective loyalty card can be the backbone of your green fee marketing strategy.
There are, however, key issues to consider very carefully prior to creating your card. These issues almost exclusively revolve around the terms and conditions.
The biggest realistic target audience for our visitor green fee product is the nomadic golfer. The make-up of this profile of golfer suggests they play on average up to 2 times per month. By offering them a loyalty card what are we trying to achieve?
- We want them to play more than twice a month
- We want them to play at our golf club more often
A loyalty card without an expiry date doesn’t encourage the customer to play at your golf course more often. It doesn’t even give a reason to play golf more often. That’s because it has no timescale attached that breaks their habit of playing twice a month.
In most cases where a loyalty card doesn’t have an expiry date, the golfer plays as many times as they ever did. They also play your course as often as they ever did. Except this time, after x number of rounds, they get a free one.
No expiry date = no urgency to play your course = no change in their normal pattern of play
When to expire a loyalty card will depend very much on how generous the loyalty is in the first instance and what time of year it’s being offered.
Our nomadic golfer plays, on average, twice a month – but that won’t necessarily be a consistent twice a month, every month. Golf is a seasonal game and we know that the weather has a huge impact on the number of rounds on our golf course.
We could make an assumption therefore, that our target nomadic golfer may play:
- Once a month between November and March
- Twice a month in April and October
- Three times a month between May and September
A card that offers the 6th round free and starts in November with a 3-month expiry date is a little optimistic. Our golfer may only normally play once a month during the winter – so the free round would be perceived as unachievable.
On the opposite end of the scale, a loyalty card that offers the 4th round free and is released in May, with an expiry date of the 30th September, is extremely generous. It could be that it’s giving too much away.
Exclude Discounted or Free Rounds
“Stamps not issued for free rounds of golf” – this is an important condition to remember when creating your loyalty card.
“Offer excludes Twilight rates, pre-paid or free green fee vouchers” – this option is very much down to the club to decide. Clearly, a loyalty card offering stamps for discounted twilight rounds may be giving away free rounds during peak times in return.
In Conjunction with Other Offers
Ensuring the loyalty card cannot be used in conjunction with any other offers is probably a condition worth mentioning on all green fee promotions. In fact, it’s one to mention on all promotions throughout the club.
Golf Society Days
“Not to be used in conjunction with any group booking above four players”
Again, it’s down to the individual clubs to decide whether they want to allow stamps, or redemption of the free round, to golf society day participants or not. There are arguments both for and against it and these need to be considered before making a decision.
Remove Peak Tee Times
You may want to consider limiting stamps, or certainly the free round redemption, based on the tee time.
Many clubs would want to limit the number of free rounds redeemed at the weekend. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they would want to limit the number of stamps given at the weekend. A full loyalty card of stamps received for weekend play logically deserves a free midweek round as much as any other (more so in fact).
There are also peak times of the year to consider – the week between Christmas and New Year for instance. Often, this period can be quite busy for golf courses and it’s something to consider if you’re intending to run a loyalty card over the December month.