I have a lesson in the business of online inventory stupidity. This past winter you might have seen the news that GolfNOW and EZ Links merged. You might not realize, but those were the two BIG players in the online tee time booking world. Now one company controls all the inventory. Imagine one cell phone company, or one cable company. Yeah, it’s frightening.
The question you are asking is… how does this company control so many tee times? I’m asking the same thing as they do not control any of ours. The simple answer, BARTER. Point of Sale Systems / Electronic Tee Sheets are sold to golf courses. Golf course owners don’t like to pay for anything…so they give the tee sheet company two tee times a day as compensation.
Online booking company aggregates all those tee times and puts them on their site. Golfers go to that site and buy these tee times, generally at a discount from what the course is actually charging. If you wait till the last minute, GolfNOW will dump them for pennies on the dollar just to get some ROI. Golfers become loyal to the discounts, not loyal to the brand. Golf courses still have to entertain these players, but get nothing in return, hell they don’t even get loyalty.
Online Inventory Makes Them Money
So how much are we talking? I write a check for $3000 a year to have my point of sale system, I refuse to barter. Let’s see what Golf Course Owner Guy would have paid if I bartered: Two tee times a day, would be about $200 each, or $400 a day. Let’s say the online system could not get anyone to play RSPGL (I know, hard to believe). Let’s say both tee times, every day, went for half price. Aggregater made $200 a day, 7 days a week, for 5 months; we’ll entirely write off April and October. That’s $30,000.
If you have any sort of business acumen, can you see the problems here? Can you see why online tee time aggregators are excited to consolidate? Can you see what will happen to consumers if there is no competition? Is it obvious why courses are losing money and loyalty? You always wanted to own your own course…if you are going to be successful, this is the stupidity you need to overcome.