Whether you run a golf and RV resort, or partner with a golf course/rv park in your area, coming up with incentive packages is important to encourage campers to hit the links. Primarily we’ve seen campgrounds trying to get their campers to golf, so I think that’s a good place to start. But, it would be of no surprise if the marketing started to go the other way as well, encouraging regular golfers to stay. For today though, the million dollar question breaks down to: How can we get campers to spend money at our golf course?
So how can we accomplish that? Well, simply put again, in one of two ways:
1) Attract campers that are more interested in golfing
2) Get campers who wouldn’t normally golf to golf (or golf more)
If you can design a package with good options, you can likely accomplish both at once. Generally speaking, you’ll have to offer a pretty good deal to get infrequent or non-golfers on the course. That deal will eventually get to the golfers (or you can market directly to them), and your campground or resort can become known as one with great golf packages, thus giving you more campers interested in golfing. Yeah, simple, I know.
What isn’t always simple, is creating the actual packages. Consider this about infrequent and non-golfers:
1) They won’t pay as much to golf. (and special discounting could upset your regulars)
2) They’ll play slower. (costing the golf course money in busy times, not to mention frustrating golfers who won’t return)
3) Many don’t know etiquette rules. (you’ll need to budget more for maintenance and Ranger fees)
4) They won’t spend a lot in your pro shop. (stock some less expensive items and you’ll still do fine)
That makes keeping everyone happy a challenge. Especially if you have members. Either way, you’ve got to find a way to build an incentive program to get people golfing, keep your stellar reputation, and not lose your current business. With all that in mind, let’s go over the possibilities.
Camper Discount Taken at Register
What you’ll need: Some way for campers to identify themselves.
How it works: Campers flash their card and get a discount on purchases at the register
Pros: It’s easy. It’s straightforward for everyone. Minimizes confusion
Cons: People frequently forget their cards. Regular customers aren’t happy about seeing the camper discounts. No urgency to play.
The main benefit of this one is how easy it is for everyone. However, I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s a great way to get your regulars/members upset, especially if some of your players aren’t exactly scratch golfers.
What you’ll need: Either great communication between your billing department and the pro shop, or some kind of ticket/coupon for campers to use at the golf course.
How it works: Campers can prepay at the RV park for one of many packages you offer. Some packages I would suggestion: 2-person w/cart packages, 4-person w/cart packages (you can do walking packages too, or discount them), 2/4-person lunch packages, prepaid pro shop discount packages, etc. Another option is a golfing punch-card, where campers can purchase “10 rounds of golf” and get their card punched whenever they use one. This is great for longer stays.
Pros: The discounts aren’t in the face of your regulars. It allows pricing flexibility for specific parties. It’s easy if you keep it simple.
Cons: Several different packages can be difficult to keep track of for employees. What happens if they don’t use them all? Refunds? It also means they only get specific discounts, so now they don’t have an incentive to make purchases they otherwise may have.
If you want to keep it simple, this is a good way to go. Just offer your basic packages and they’ll be easy for everyone to keep track of. But, you are missing out a little by going with this program. Since people don’t get discounts on everything, only what they’ve signed up for, they’re less likely to buy range balls, make pro shop purchases, eat lunch, etc, once they get there (especially if they had an option to buy a package which included it). It also makes things a little confusing, as far as where campers are supposed to purchase these packages, etc.
End-of-Stay or Periodic Billing
What you’ll need: “Credit Cards” associated with each camp site.
How it works: Whenever a camper wants to make a purchase on with your company, he/she can just charge it on the RV Site card. At the end of the stay (or monthly for seasonal campers), campers are given a discount based on how much as spent. If they spent less than $100, maybe they’ll get 5% off. Over $1000? 20% off. Whatever amounts you go with, be sure to create an incentive to spend more.
Pros: No money exchange in front of your regulars/members. You’re charging “full price.” It’s good for anything (unless you specifically exclude it). People spend more on credit.
Cons: You need to make sure people can pay. You need a system/communication in place to process the cards and do the billing. Without the right system, things can get a little messy.
You’re basically becoming a little Disney World. You can stay at any of their resorts and charge things to your room bill. If they’re doing it, it’s got to be a good idea right? Well, it is. Once you get the system down, ensure your margins are correct, and your staff knows what they are doing, this is the best way to keep everyone happy.
Other package tips:
Non-Prime time Incentives
If your campers are slowing down play, create package incentives for non-prime golf times. We let our regular weekend golfers play Saturday and Sunday mornings like they want to, and created incentives for campers to play in the afternoons and evenings when it wasn’t as busy.
Have enough RV’ers interested in a league. They’ll probably enjoy playing with other RV’ers. Set aside time and run a weekly league where they can have a good time.
Give’em a Freebie
Don’t want to worry about math and changing how you charge people because it gets confusing? Give them some freebies. Play 3 rounds of golf your 4th is free. Buy a golf package and stay an extra night free. You know how your numbers work better than I do. But, we all know people like free.
Got questions or comments? Leave them below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can! Oh, and happy new year!
Mike is a marketing consultant specializing in Internet marketing. He managed a Golf RV Resort, and now is helping small businesses (including campgrounds and golf courses) develop effective web presences at Londes Internet Marketing. He specializes in SEO, online marketing, a/b testing and conversion analysis.