Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 February 2012 16:17
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 16:09
by Gord Montgomery
After a year of having people dig their name out of the rough on the Internet and then discover the beauty of booking tee times online, Play Golf Alberta is intent on seeing their users find nothing but the short grass this golf season.
Owner Jeff Sveen said the first year for his company was one “full of positive feedback from the members who booked online with us. We just want to fine tune the website to make the experience easier for new users.
“I think with any new business there’s a challenge to branding,” Sveen continued.
“We had 25,000 unique visitors to the website last year so it’s just a matter of familiarizing them with our website, getting them booking and increasing the number of courses they can book at in 2012.”
The changes made to the website this year over last had to do with customer comfort, Sveen explained. He felt the old site was too busy and as such a visitor’s interest was taken from booking a tee time to other on-site tools. That, he hopes, has now been addressed.
“The biggest change this year is the direction for the bookings. We had a lot going on last year that was kind of confusing to the end user. We want to focus the attention toward booking on line.”
The advantage to using this online system as opposed to picking up a telephone and hoping to find a convenient tee time is the fact a user can see what times are open at their course of choice and make his/her plans according to that.
“It’s the convenience of booking,” Sveen said of having between nine and 15 golf courses in the Edmonton area presently making use of his site and which can handle your 9 a.m. Saturday request.
“All the inventory will show up, the prices, the times. From there it’s two clicks and you’re booked instead of going to each course’s individual website or calling them to get their inventory of tee times.”
Another dramatic change this year with Play Golf Alberta is that they won’t be charging you as soon as you book a time online. Rather, the full fee for the day’s play will be taken at the course when you book in.
“There are no booking fees, no payments on line. We take a credit card number to guarantee your spot but you pay 100 per cent at the golf course,” said Sveen.
He also said there are hopes that the courses using his system will open up their tee sheets beyond the usual three or four days advance booking privileges, and while some have already agreed to that, others are slower to come on-board.
“We’re trying to get them to book outside that normal three or four days. Some courses, like Wolf Creek, or destination courses, will open up for the whole summer. Others, clubs with members following policies and procedures, have to stay at the three to seven days but that’s something we are continually working on with the courses to increase the booking time.”
With hopes of having up to 50 Alberta courses tied into this online booking system this year – they presently sit at 40 – Sveen said he’s hoping to add in some big city tracks.
“We’re looking more urban, Calgary and Edmonton. We’re looking to get 10 to 15 more courses in those two centres.”
The one thing to realize about Play Golf Alberta is that they don’t necessarily book discounted tee times at their member courses.
“That’s up to the golf course as an individual to do,” Sveen explained. “We don’t want to sell ourselves as a discount website. If a course has a quiet time, they will do, may do some discounting. Alberta is such a strong market and it’s such a short season, most don’t do a whole lot of discounting.”
Starting this spring an online booking system for B.C. will also swing into operation, under the www.playgolfbc.com address. It’s expected that there will be upwards of 50 courses on the site using the same type of format at its eastern neighbour.
For the courses on the Alberta booking site and to view information on them as well as other courses around the province, go to www.playgolfalberta.com and start punching in tee times when you want them and not when the course you want to play can fit you in.
Sveen will have a booth at this year’s Alberta PGA Consumer Golf Show in Edmonton, which runs on March 10-11 at the Edmonton Expo Centre from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the first day and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the second. He’ll also be in Calgary at the BMO Centre for the show there, which takes place March 31-April 1 during the same hours.
About the writer: Gord Montgomery is the sports editor of two weekly newspapers in the Edmonton area and is a member of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. He has written for Inside Golf for the past four years with the majority of his coverage in north and central Alberta.
By Gord Montgomery
Gord Montgomery is a retired sports editor of two weekly newspapers in the Edmonton area and is a member of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. He is now in his ninth year of writing for Inside Golf. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s also on Twitter at @gordinsidegolf and on Instagram at @gordinsidegolf2.
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