We are inching forward toward our 10th anniversary next year at Gallus Golf, and given the current climate in the golf technology world, it’s a good time for us to reflect on a principle we started the company with back in 2011 - being a true partner to golf courses to aid in their success.
Recently our CEO, Jason Wilson, put out a flyer that served up 5 quick questions to ask when partnering with an app technology company in the golf industry. Each question can be directly related back to that core philosophy we started with - being that true partner to courses. We understand that each course clients’ needs are unique and Gallus strives to deliver for them as best as we can. We also believe it is extremely important for golf courses to fully evaluate us in return, or any service provider, and make decisions that are best for their unique business operation. These 5 questions are suggestions to help a course gather information and make a fair evaluation.
At the same time, we are having this conversation here in our blog about a return to what we stand for, the NGCOA has published a 60 page “Beware of Barter” document, also containing valuable data and important questions for golf courses considering a barter model for technology - it can be found HERE.
Everything the NGCOA is warning course operators about lines up with our philosophy. Gallus Golf does not want to seek revenue from the same sources golf courses are seeking revenue. In that scenario, Gallus finds it difficult to be a true and committed partner that is driven toward success for that golf course client. There can be some important questions to consider if an app technology provider is also competing with the customer they service. Below we will elaborate on those 5 questions our CEO posed just a few weeks ago.
Is the app (or any product/service/technology) 100% branded for my golf course?
In the golf app world we refer to non-branded apps as “Container” apps. A container app will have multiple golf courses in it that golfers can access. Some tech companies may build and support these types of apps and provide them for free, or package them in at no additional cost with the other tech they offer as a “value add”. (As with anything that is ‘free’, it is always smart to consider if there is a true cost for it). Their claim may be that driving downloads of this app will help your facility because your customers will have an enhanced experience when they are at or near your property.
While these apps do have some features that can be seen as useful at your course, in many cases they could allow your customers to access your competitors as well. This same app may also advertise available tee times for all of the other courses and could monetize tee times that have been bartered to the company that is providing the app. The revenue necessary to support the app technology is coming from the golfers buying those bartered times, no matter which course’s tee time is sold. So any course who advocates their customers to download this app, keep in mind you may be also showing them discounted tee times at your competition, and even your course.
In a CUSTOM BRANDED world, sure there is a price to pay to be there, but only your golf course is accessible within that world, and only your golf course will benefit from the revenue being driven by the app.
Do I have 100% control over the content and messaging from the app?
In that container app world, the app is most likely managed by the company that developed the app, and of course, they need to drive revenue to support it. In many cases, the source of revenue comes from the same customers you want to engage with at your facility. If control of the content and messaging from the app belongs with them, make sure you understand the limitation it may have on your ability to effectively engage with YOUR customer. Consider that your customers who have downloaded the app could be frequently exposed to “deals” at your competitor courses.
In a CUSTOM BRANDED world, the look and branding in the app is 100% your course. In the app stores, it is located by your course’s name and your logo is right there in the icon on the home screen of their phone. Once inside the app, every last bit of the content is 100% in your control. Every single message sent from the app is managed entirely by you and directed to match whatever it may be you want to communicate. There is ZERO opportunity for your customers to gain exposure to your competition within YOUR app in a CUSTOM BRANDED world.
Can my customers book tee times at courses other than mine in the app?
In a CUSTOM BRANDED world the ONLY chance of this happening is if you suddenly become extremely generous and decide to promote your competitors’ tee times in YOUR app. You know, because you’re just nice! Chances of this are probably low, as most courses are already trying very hard drive rounds at their club.
In the container app world, in most cases the path to revenue for the provider of the app is to make sure that as many courses as possible have tee times available for YOUR customers to book (at your course and OTHER courses). This is where the conflict resides.
Will my customers be able to see bartered tee times at my course or others?
With your CUSTOM BRANDED app, simply put - NO. As mentioned above, your competition has no place in YOUR app when you are in the CUSTOM BRANDED world. In our CUSTOM BRANDED world, we work with you to only expose a booking channel that you have approved. So, again the only tee times available for your customers to book within YOUR app should be for your golf course if you partner with our team.
Will my customer’s data be used to market other tee times or services?
This is a particularly good question because, depending on which type of app you choose, a YES or NO answer may or may not generate benefit your club.
Let’s begin in the CUSTOM BRANDED world. If data is being used to market additional products, services, and/or tee times of YOURS within the app, that will be entirely of your choosing, and entirely in your control. That benefit does exist including marketing to a specific individual, group of people, or segment of your customer base. Again - YOU ARE IN FULL CONTROL.
In the container app world, yes the data will be used, but who benefits can be decided by the inventory the provider of the app needs to move. If that inventory belongs to you, your benefit may or may not be immediately financial depending on the tee time. A customer may make his/her way to your property again so you have an opportunity to capture more with them. But that same customer may be driven to your competitor instead, who may do a great job of finding a way to make that customer loyal to them. Again, just another opportunity to ask if a container app could potentially drive money to your competition.
The Return to What We Stand For…
We live daily in the CUSTOM BRANDED world and have from day ONE in our company. We sell ONLY to you, not to your customers, so there is NO inherent conflict of interest. We firmly believe that to be your partner we cannot also enter into competition with you. As with anything, it is good to remind yourself of where and why you began something, and in the changing climate of the golf industry, warnings coming from the NGCOA, and some general confusion as to what is really being driven by certain pieces of technology, we felt it important to share this reminder with you. In the end, you know what is best for your facility. We simply encourage you to ask questions and hopefully get some answers to help you make the best decisions.