Jason Wilson is the CEO of Gallus Golf, which launched in 2011 with the goal of helping golf course operators enhance the golfer experience, and create better engagement with customers and members through technology.
Wilson regards Gallus Golf first and foremost as a customer service company, with apps being the primary vehicle to help clients deliver on the expectations of consumers today. As this month’s guest contributor, Wilson opines on the most important things operators should consider before asking golfers to download a golf app:
More and more consumers today expect a great mobile experience in nearly everything they do on a daily basis. When they research a new product to buy, search where to get lunch, get directions to a destination, or what golf course to play, in most cases their first reaction is to reach for their smartphone to find the answer. And yes, this does include all golfers and not just young golfers. (59% of our Gallus app users are 55 years or older.)
If you are a course owner or operator looking to stay relevant, you must consider a strategy to meet the mobile experience your customers have come to expect. Mobile apps are one of the most effective ways to deliver a great mobile experience and drive engagement with customers. There are numerous options out there, but one important question to consider:
Do I build a custom branded app for my golf course, or is making sure my course is available in a larger aggregator golf app good enough? What is the difference?
An aggregator golf app is a 3rd party golf app that has most or all golf courses in the market available to golfers. It might have useful features like general course info, tee time booking, GPS, etc for your course. But it also has all of those features for your competitor courses available to that same golfing customer.
A custom branded golf app for your course has many of the same features (and more in some cases), but it is specifically tailored to your club. 100% of the content and functionality for the golfer is catered for them to interact with everything about your facility. And you (the course operator) have full control over what is communicated with those customers via your app.
So the question again: Does it matter which app you want your golfers to download? There are a few important things to consider.
Who is really benefiting when more golfers use the app?
Considering the aggregator app, in most cases the app was developed by a 3rd party company such as your tee sheet & point-of-sale provider. Generally, they want to maximize the number of golfers using the app for a simple reason: they make more money by getting more tee times across more golf courses in front of more golfers. Specifically, the tee times they earn booking fees on, or the discounted bartered tee times they earn 100% of the revenue on when booked.
So if you’re a course operator who is promoting a 3rd party branded aggregator app to your customers, trust me they are thrilled with all your efforts! You are effectively helping them gather more golfer eyeballs on the bartered tee times they earn money on. Not just for your course, but you’re also proactively pushing your precious customers to a golf app that also promotes your competitors. The app doesn’t care which course your customer books tee times at, yours or the course down the street, they just want to sell more tee times.
You are gifting them your valuable customer data on a silver platter.
They can learn from that customer behavior, turn around and market other competing golf courses in the exact same app. When else would you willingly share your customer database to benefit your competitors? Nearly every single golf course today has their own distinct website. You don’t see every course abandoning their online club identity and opting to just be listed on an aggregated website listing all courses. Why would you do the same with something as important as your mobile presence with customers?
An app custom branded specifically for your club offers the same great features and functionality for your customers, but you have 100% control over the app content, communication, and customer data. You can put in the exact same effort to encourage your golfers to download YOUR course app, but without the concerns described above with an aggregator app. After that successful app adoption, you can now create an enhanced experience with YOUR course, and messaging through the app to drive more revenue for YOUR course.
This is the spirit that Gallus Golf was built on, and continues to provide for their clients. Building mobile app engagement through the eyes of course operators so it benefits their business.
In conclusion, here are a few questions to ask your mobile app provider:
Do I have full control over all the messaging and content my customers will see in the app?
When I tell my course customers to download this app, will they be able to book tee times at other golf courses?
Will you ever use the app user data to market competing courses or tee time offers to my customers through the app, email, or other channels?
As a course owner or operator, just some things to think about before blindly encouraging your valuable customers to download a 3rd party’s mobile app. Remember, they are YOUR customers and should be downloading YOUR app.