a Marketing Plan to Increase Tournament Sales
pitcher, team manager, bon vivant and philosopher, Yogi Berra,
got to be careful if you don't know where you're going, because
you might not get there. “
courses are starting off their new year with all the best intentions,
but they are starting out without a clear Marketing Plan focused
on increasing tournament sales, and it could make for a long year.
With the new year getting underway, now is the time to look
or re-look at your marketing plan.
sales? With individual rounds staying flat or declining
in many markets, with more golf courses closing than opening this
year, and with many clubs still waiting for the “Tiger Factor”
to kick in, tournament golf is the single most important part
of your marketing mix. Tournament golfers spend more money,
eat more food, drink more booze (okay, and other beverages) and
buy more pro-shop items than the same number of individual golfers.
Yet many golf courses let tournaments find them instead of aggressively
pursuing the group market, then they complain that their tournament
rounds are down.
to increasing tournament sales is to develop, budget and follow
an effective tournament golf marketing plan. If a
golf course hosts 50,000 rounds annually, at a $100 average greensfee,
there is $5 million in golf sales at stake, and tournament directors
need to plan and execute steps to get more than their share.
- Review your
prior year. See where the peaks and valleys in
your business were, see what tournaments your golf course
hosted; calculate your total year-end tournament revenue.
- Preview the
upcoming year. In your tee-sheet system or on
a large wall calendar, mark all of the tournament dates that
are now booked. Also chart any member events, days that
are closed for maintenance, clinics, qualifiers and other
events that are already on the books when your course is full.
Calculate your total tournament rounds and revenue for the
- Not it’s time
to set a goal. Since everyone wants a raise, set
a goal of at least 10% growth year over year.
Next, just compare the year prior actual combined with the
10% growth, to the total revenue figure that is on the books,
the difference is the basis of your marketing plan.
- If you finished
2006 with 45,000 rounds consumed, you would want to set your
target at 50,000 for 2007. If you currently have
40,000 on the books, you are 80% on the way to the goal, and
need to find ways to sell 10,000 additional rounds to hit
your goal. That’s where tournament sales come in, because
the prime individual tee-times are already taken, and you
need to generate tournament sales in times that are still
with individual golf is that it gravitates towards dates that
are already full, and once a tee-time is booked, like a hotel
room or airline seat, it’s gone forever. Selling tournament
golf increases revenue for golf, pro-shop and food and beverage
outlets, and offsets some of the discounts that have to be absorbed
to keep the course full.
Golf Event Managers Association, we focus on the “Big Five”--
the five critical areas in Tournament Marketing: E-Marketing,
Direct Sales, Direct Mail, Advertising and Public Relations.
There are books and in fact libraries devoted to these marketing
topics, but briefly, the Big Five are as follows:
E-Marketing is critical for golfers to find you and for you to
find golfers through an effective website and e-mails. Your
website should be easy to find, easy to navigate and contain lots
of information on your course or product. Add an online
tee-time system and a tournament request form with seasonal promotion,
and you’re on the way. It sounds basic, but check that your website
shows your correct address, current tournament booking information
and contact name, telephone, fax and e-mail access. Make
it easy and fun to find your course and do business, and you’ll
fill more rounds.
are more critical than ever, because golfers excel at all forms
of electronic communication and respond well to it.
Make sure you collect business cards from golfers at every tournament,
have them added to an e-mail database; send an introduction e-mail
to those golfers, thanking them for attending the tournament,
and asking them to bring a tournament of their own. Ideally
you can use individual golfers to promote tournaments and have
your tournament golfers promote individual play.
Sales: Direct sales is the easiest
way to increase sales— simply call past tournament planners and
invite them back. Ask them if they belong to any other related
groups who might have a tournament. Remember to ask the
“WAYGIFY” question, the acronym for “Where Are You Going In Future
Years.” Many times, a tournament plans 6-12 months
out, but there’s nothing keeping you from booking the best past
tournaments into multiple future dates—that closes out your available
dates, and increases the revenue on the books.
Sales also includes the way your golf course handles incoming
calls. Ideally, you should have your team trained
to greet the caller professionally, get the booking process started
and generate confirming paperwork immediately.
Mail: Direct Mail
should be designed to drive golfers and planners to your website
to book a tee-time or tournament. Seasonal specials, holiday
cards, anniversary and birthday cards, member newsletters and
other mailing pieces are critical for a good tournament program.
Be sure to see that every department at your course, whether it’s
membership, the restaurant, the pro-shop and even accounting distributes
flyers to promote tournament golf.
While handy for individual tee-times, advertising is a necessary
evil of tournament golf sales. It’s expensive, difficult
to track and requires too much time for the results it generates.
The most important item here is to include a mention of tournament
sales in every yellow-page ad, billboard, sports-page and restaurant
ad. A good outlet for tournament ads is in the newsletters
for large organizations, if they accept advertising. Examples
here might include the social groups like the Knights of Columbus
and Shriners, church groups, large employer newsletters and other
targeted areas where the advertising rates are very reasonable
and you can track results.
This area is usually overlooked by golf courses, but it is one
of the most effective ways to increase tournament golf sales.
The basics include a weekly fact sheet sent to the area
media outlets on any interesting tournaments coming in and any
interesting club news. Be sure to invite area media and
key community members to every golf tournament, you may want to
comp their greensfees as part of your support for the tournament,
and make sure they have a good time. Adding a Wall of Fame
in the 19th Hole with autographed photos of past tournaments
with a wall-mounted brochure rack is another easy way to get things
a Marketing Plan, it’s important to see what tee-times can still
be sold, and start a targeted campaign to sell those tee-times.
The Marketing Plan starts by looking at the dates and times that
are still available on your 2007 calendar and starting an active
campaign to fill those open and available dates first. Every
marketing action should have a preparation, execution and follow-up
stage, so you can track how much business each action generates.
started, visit the Golf Event Managers Association website, at
for some helpful formats and downloads. And you know,
when you see how successful your course can be, you might remember
another quote from that famous philosopher, Yogi,
now, nobody goes there anymore…it’s too crowded.”
is the Executive Director of GEMA, the Golf Event Managers Association.
GEMA is a national organization of golf event planners, golf facilities
and vendors, dedicated to increasing and improving golf tournament
business, attendance and professionalism on all levels. Based
in Orlando, Florida, GEMA focuses on marketing programs to help
event planners maximize membership, attendance and sponsorships
and works with golf facilities and merchandisers to increase their
contacts and business in the tournament golf market.
407-891-2252 | Fax: 407-891-6428 | E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org