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Tee Sheet Management Strategies
DOUBLE TEE STARTS
In shoulder seasons and winter months, double tee starts are utilized to give more people the opportunity to play 18 holes at a premium rate before sunset. In summer months, double tees are often utilized to give more people the opportunity to play 18 holes before the heat becomes too excessive.
- Focus on the highest demand times and book around those times. For example, if you have significant demand on weekend early mornings, your tournament sales director may be able to sell an afternoon shotgun and you will be maximizing revenue for both the morning double tee and the afternoon shotgun.
- Clear communication with guests is extremely important. Make sure you explain the strategy of a double tee and what tee they will be starting on, either #1 or #10. Company members at the front counter on the day of play need a complete understanding of a double tee and the staggered timing of it all.
- Many morning double tees are followed by another double tee. For example, a double tee running from 6:00am to 8:15am would be followed by a 10:30am to 12:45pm double tee. The strategy of the second double tee would be to maximize the number of players paying a premium rate before the twilight rate in the mid-afternoon becomes available. In this example, the mid-afternoon rate would not be available until 3:00pm, after the second double tee had ended.\
Shotgun starts are extremely effective in maximizing play. They can be used for daily fee play or for a tournament or event. The keys to a shotgun start are:
- They should be scheduled first thing in the morning or first thing in the afternoon. A mid-morning or mid-afternoon shotgun start will often leave you unable to book tee times before or after the shotgun.
- You should have at least 100 players, and ideally, 120 or more players in each shotgun start to maximize revenue.
REVERSE SHOTGUN STARTS
A reverse shotgun start is a strategy whereby less than 100 players can start at the same time, and you can tee off regular tee times at the same time. Generally held first thing in the morning, a reverse shotgun puts golfers on the course starting on hole 18 and working backwards.
For example, 36 players could start at the same time at 8 am on holes 4-12. Meanwhile, golfers could be teeing off the first tee until the group that started on number 12 reaches the first tee, at which point it would be closed as the shotgun group comes through.
EARLY BIRD TEE TIMES
Sell 9 hole rounds off the back nine for the first hour of daylight. Price is reduced rate due to greens may or may not be mown, based on staff and budget, but you’ve created incremental revenue.
DAILY FEE BOOKING STRATEGIES
We can’t emphasize enough the importance of booking every reservation with extreme care. When executed correctly, these simple reservation techniques can have an incredible impact on utilization. The key to each of these strategies is constant observation and coaching of front-line staff by the General Manager and Head Professional.
The first question asked to every guest making a reservation is, “How many players do you have?” Then review the tee sheet for pairing opportunities. This ensures that twosomes are paired together and prevents multiple tee-times from being used by two players only.
Quite often you will have golfers request to be paired with nobody else. Explain to them courteously that this is not possible or steer them to non-peak times of the day when doing so will not result in a loss of revenue.
BOOKING OUTSIDE PRIME TIME
Every course has “prime times” or the times of day when demand is highest. The object is to try to book times outside these periods first. Sometime just suggesting that you have a discounted time available to a guest that is not time sensitive will be enough to entice them to play outside the peak zone. It is critical, however, to never lose a potential tee time because a guest cannot play at a time outside the zone.
After you have determined how many players, suggest a time outside of the peak zone.
By asking every group, you can identify the small number of groups that are able to play outside the peak zone, thus leaving it available for those groups who must play in a peak time.
Each week our courses are put in the unenviable position of must start from scratch and fill an empty tee sheet. While this is not viewed as a significant issue in high-volume markets, more and more courses are finding that increased competition is reducing play during historically high demand periods.
Rebooking enables us to take customers off the market before they ever think to call another course. Another benefit of rebooking is that you accomplish this without any marketing expense.
- Create signage to be placed strategically around the clubhouse encouraging guests to book their next tee time before they leave.
- When people call to cancel, ask if they would like to rebook another time.
- At check-in time, ask if they would like to book for next week.
- Have a Marshal ask groups still on the back nine if they would like to play the next day at Twilight rate. This will fill open times at the last minute and reward a golfer at your club. Just have the Marshal call into the golf shop to confirm availability.
REDUCING NO SHOWS AND SHORT SHOWS
The “gap” is the difference between how many people booked a tee time and how many showed up. By implementing systems to both remind guests and hold them accountable for their reservations, we can maximize revenue.
These are the programs you can use that direct the guest to show up, cancel, or adjust the number of players prior to the day of play.
This should only be used if you can’t take credit cards to guarantee times.
With few exceptions, every course has high-demand periods that receive more requests than spaces available. Having learned the power of diligently monitoring our Gap%, you can predicate with some accuracy how many people will No Show or Short Show during peak periods. The purpose of optimum booking is to book guests and have them waiting to fill these empty spaces. While the idea of “standing by” does not appeal to many golfers, we generally only need a few each hour to make this strategy successful.
You will need to determine your historic No Show trend and then create a plan to fill this void. Because Optimum booking causes service challenges, service recovery strategies need to be pre-planned and trained with co-workers. You should also be prepared to overcome any delays on the first tee when implementing an aggressive Optimum booking program.
FILLING EMPTY TIMES DUE TO NO SHOWS AND SHORT SHOWS
If you successfully implement the strategies above, your course will not only see a reduction in Gap %, but an increase in cancellations and changes to player counts. This is the result of guests becoming educated and complying with the reservation policy. What are needed at every course are programs to fill these empty slots, especially during high demand times. Here are several to choose from:
WAIT LIST CALL BACK
When implemented correctly this is an extremely powerful guest service strategy as well as a revenue generator. By capturing excess demand during peak periods and contacting them if anyone cancels, you are proactively filling your tee sheet while at the same time substantially exceeding the expectations of your guests.
Where we have excess demand, we should try to capture contact information from those guests we can’t book and call them back, whether we have cancellations or not. If we have openings, we have the chance to fill prime tee times on short notice. If we do not have any openings, we can offer an off-peak special, a stand-by slot, or attempt to book the guest for a different day or time.
You should always try to capture the number of players they have, the day and time they would most prefer to play. The most effective strategy is to have team members place calls to those on the wait list immediately after receiving a cancellation. This gives us the best opportunity to book those guests before they make other plans.
- Establish where wait list names will be recorded and exactly what information needs to be captured.
- Identify alternates to offer guests on the wait list we are unable to accommodate on their preferred day and time.
- Determine who will be held accountable for making calls to guests still on the wait list 24 hours prior to the day of play.
- Decide on a simple tracking mechanism to identify guests we successfully accommodate from the wait list.
Singles, historically one of the most mistreated guests in golf, may also prove to be one of the most valuable. Singles are critical to filling threesomes and short shows, and yet there are never enough of them when you need them. Simply stated, the more single golfers you can attract to your course the higher your utilization will be. Surprisingly, most golf courses ignore the single golfer’s starting time request and treat them as unwanted “friendless” golfers.
This program gives single golfers the chance to book special stand-by tee times. This same concept can be applied to twosomes. These guests receive a free warm-up bucket of balls or free fountain beverage while they wait. If we can’t get them out within one hour, give them a free, off-peak round of golf.
- Determine the days and times that you are experiencing high demand and yet continue to fall short of 100% utilization due to no shows and short shows based on historical trends.
- There should be a predetermined place where single players are put on the tee sheet – you may want to set a squeeze time and “block” it. Insert names in the block as they call in.
- Inform the guest we will get them out within an hour of the intended tee time. While waiting they are entitled to a free soda and free range token.
- If we are unable to get them with a group in one hour, they receive a free round to come back later. This will not hurt since we were at 100% utilization during their wait.
HOLDING BACK SHORT GROUPS
Short shows represent a sensitive customer service issue, since any fee charged, or other penalty is incurred by the guests that showed rather that the ones that did not. That is why charging short shows doesn’t work in our industry. However, to maximize revenue and improve the pace of play experience for our guests, we need to send out full groups whenever possible.
In the case of short shows, the best practice we have found is to ask the group in question to wait one to two tee times for the opportunity to pair them with additional players. If they do not wish to wait, explain to them the pace of play issue. You may have some groups that just want to go out so side on the side of service and return visits.
Remember, the most expensive thing in running a golf course is an open tee. On the day of play, the last proactive opportunity to drive additional rounds is to ask guests if they would like to keep playing after their 18 holes. This is a very dynamic strategy and must change every day based on your actual demand.
BOUNCE BACK CERTIFICATES
The strategy here is to retain more of our current customer database from week to week. Bounce back certificates – handing players before the leave a discounted round – can successfully do this by giving our guests another reason to play golf and to select your club when they do.