Best Practices

Dynamic pricing during seasonal transitions

The time has passed for letting the calendar dictate pricing. The times they are a changin’ … on the calendar, that is, as summer turns to fall. This is a common refrain this time of year and for many golf courses, it means checking the calendar to see when they are supposed to change. But is this really the best strategy?

“One of the main discussions we have with our golf course partners is smoothing their transitions coming into and out of seasons,” said Brian Skena, manager, Plus by GOLF Business Solutions. “It doesn’t make sense to abruptly change rates just because the calendar says so. Rather, we would advise to change rates because demand says so.”

It’s a discussion often met with an incredulous look as operators say, “We have always changed our rates at certain points on the calendar. It’s the way we’ve always done it. Our customers expect it. Gosh, it’s published right here on our rate card we have posted in the pro shop.”

“Why have a physical rate card that shows your rate is “x” from this date to that date?” Skena said. “Golfers don’t need to know the price months from now. Let dynamic pricing come into play.” As evidence, he points to the hotel and airline industries, which have made massive profits with dynamic pricing while conditioning consumers to expect prices to reflect demand. “You don’t see airlines and hotels advertising that their rates rise and fall on certain dates. Demand determines what price you see.”

Chris de Laat, Owner of Mayfield Golf Club in Caledon, Ontario, Canada, no longer uses a traditional seasonal calendar to make pricing decisions. “The catalyst for pricing changes is performance,” says de Laat. “Softer days need aggressive pricing and promotions, while busy days warrant higher prices.” de Laat operates by a pricing matrix with a list of criteria that influence his decision-making, including: historical APR; seasonal temperatures; daylight hours; course conditions; competitor pricing, and more. “A motto that resonates for me states that ‘Time is a perishable item – unsold times equate to lost opportunities.”

More operators around the country agree. They look at rates during seasonal transitions, but don’t completely rely on the calendar. The consensus is there are a host of other contributing factors unique to individual markets that should influence changing rate on demand, such as weather, course conditions, tourism, etc.

Many of these operators partner with GOLF Business Solutions and its Plus service for rate guidance. Having this support mechanism, and historical and market data it can offer, instills confidence in their decision-making and the timing of their pricing decisions.

Skena said with Plus’ full-service staff, they can be incredibly responsive with clients that are communicating regularly with them. “We can price really well off historical data,” he said. “And when courses are more proactive and willing to communicate with us, we can definitely extend their high seasons.”

To learn more about dynamic pricing and Plus services, CLICK HERE.