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October 2017

Vantage Point

Vantage Point‭

From the CEO

Data. The word tends to elicit one of two responses out of small business owners. One is: “Give me more! Can’t get enough of it!” The other: “Who’s got time for that?”

On most days in the golf industry, it feels like the latter faction has the majority. And I get it—owners and operators are busy people, taking care of customers, tending to employees, watching the cash flow closely, and trying to make sure the product is as good as it can be. It’s hard to imagine time in the day to look at data on rounds, revenue, capacity, RevPATT and how your numbers may compare to a competitive set or your market.

But here’s the thing—we need to. The primary comparison operators tend to make now is when looking at what competitors are charging for tee times online. Unfortunately, that tends to be an exercise that results in a downward pressure, economically speaking. The pull and temptation is to consider lowering your prices to get customers when you see that your competitor’s pricing is lower than yours. This can no longer be the only exercise we do in comparative analysis.

Instead, imagine if the dominant conversation around data in our industry and at the operator level was about facility performance. I believe the result would be an upward pressure, economically speaking. Instead of feeling the effect of price pressures, operators might feel the effect of keeping up with the Joneses. If the conversation centered on revenue per available tee time and seeing competitors performing better than you, the question would be, “How do I achieve that?” That’s a better conversation than, “Shoot. They lowered their rates. How do I keep up with that?”

The hotel industry has its monthly STAR report, which allows hoteliers to see how they perform against the competition and market. Revenue, occupancy and revenue per available room data points are shared. This data drives behavior in a good way. It stokes the competitive fires among hotels to raise their performance metrics. Many general managers and sales executives are compensated on performance as a result. Golf could benefit from this consumption of data.

And that’s why we’re pleased to announce a partnership between NGCOA and ORCA, which offers course operators the opportunity to share in and benefit from robust data. In addition to the revenue, rounds and occupancy data, ORCA also offers unique insights into channel data for course operators, so you know where your revenue is coming from—including the opportunity cost of bartered rounds. We highly encourage all owners and operators to check this out and begin sharing data. There’s no downside. Your information will be protected.

There are days when this pursuit seems Sisyphean. But we all have to get over that and just do it. My hope is one day we will be able to automatically retrieve the data from our software friends in the industry. This is about a rising tide lifting all boats. Go to orcareport.com to get started today. There are free and subscription versions for whatever your appetite might be. Let’s do this!

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