These are challenging times and golf clubs are increasingly looking at ways to ensure they stand out from the crowd in what is a competitive market. It wasn’t so long ago that having a professional web site became essential for all golf courses, in the same way that you need to ensure your club house menu is refreshed regularly or your resort’s hotel insurance remains appropriate for your needs. Now that over a third of all adult Americans have a smartphone it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the opportunities a smartphone brings in marketing and promoting your course to new and existing customers. Apps for Smartphones A smartphone is a cell phone with advanced capabilities such as Internet access and the ability to download and install software applications typically called “apps”. Users of Android and iPhone smartphones can choose to install apps that interest them. Typically an app is like an interactive brochure that functions like a web site on a PC, with the added benefit that a customer can access this information anywhere, including on the golf course. Benefits of having an app Many golf courses across America have already made the decision to produce apps and a significant number are now available for smartphone users to download. Many apps will use the information and functions already available on your web site, such as online booking, so if your web site is well established then you are already well placed to develop your own app. If you have invested in multimedia such as course flyovers and yardage guides then these can easily be incorporated into the app for the user to view on their phone. Apps can also pay for themselves in increased revenue. Offering an easy booking system within the app makes it likely that customers will return more frequently. This is even more likely if you create daily, weekly or monthly leader boards to encourage golfers to play more rounds. Adding a food ordering system linked to GPS that reminds golfers to order food when they reach the ninth hole can add to restaurant revenues. What content should the app have? If you are going to offer an app to customers then you need to ensure that it is used regularly, and the best way to do this is by providing as much quality interactive content as possible. The best apps combine all the information that customers get from your web site, brochures and at the golf course itself into one easy to use package. Some ideas for great content would be:
- A course overview with detailed hole-by-hole maps, with Google satellite images. You could provide a customised GPS rangefinder for those with GPS-enabled phones. Some apps provide audio descriptions to accompany the hole-by-hole maps
- A tee time booking facility within the app. Discounts and select offers could be provided to those who have downloaded the app.
- An interactive scorecard that keeps score for an individual or group. Players input their handicap and tee they are playing to provide both gross and net scores.
- Clubs can create daily, weekly or monthly leader boards from the individual scores entered in the player’s scorecard. You could even provide the option to create their own leader boards with their playing partners and create their own mini-tournaments.
- As previously mentioned you can provide details of the restaurant menu and reminders during a player’s round. Customers could then book a table via the app or you could provide restaurant contact details.
- An events calendar that would provide the facility for members and guests to book or reserve social and other club activities.
- Other features could include a latest news page, information on the latest weather conditions, and a text message delivery service for news alerts and club promotions that would be delivered to the user even if the app wasn’t running.