Use caution with third party resellers, owners urged at EGCOA conference

By Adam Lawrence

Golf courses should be cautious when dealing with third party tee time resellers, delegates at the European Golf Course Owners’ Association were told today.

Jeff Calderwood, CEO of the Canadian course owners’ body, told the conference that resellers could potentially help courses access new clients and promote off-peak use, but that there were significant downsides too.

“The third party reseller business exists because there is an imbalance between supply and demand in many markets,” Calderwood told delegates. “In the US, for example, figures show that golf courses operate on an average utilisation of 47 per cent. Third party resellers can help courses access younger customers, who prefer to buy online, but there are also dangers. Who owns the customer? Courses need to ensure it is them, not the reseller, and they need to be sure they are not simply discounting to their existing customers.”

The American and Canadian NGCOAs have created a set of best practice recommendations for courses, and Calderwood explained that he believed it was vital for clubs to focus on selling as much inventory as possible through direct channels. Where third party resellers are engaged, he said, it was vital for clubs to have a proper contract that ensures the best rate is always available direct from the club, that data is owned by the club, and that, ideally, resellers were paid a commission. Payment by barter, where the reseller is given a number of tee times to sell for its own revenues, were dangerous, he said, and an auction model even more so.

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