Cart bookings: 2 ways to drive success

Quick18 sells carts by the seat, which gives you an edge, as well as some choice. We all know carts are a great revenue source, but do you really work the fleet hard enough? Like many decisions we make, it’s about having a strategy and the right tools to deliver on that strategy.

Quick18 now offers the option of carts as an add-on, or as a blended rate. For those of you currently running a blended golf & cart rate, and those of you considering which way to go, today’s note sets out two different approaches, each with merit.

But first, some definitions…

The blended rate

By “blended rate” we mean a per-person golf & cart rate which typically is your standard walking green fee, plus half the cost of a cart. 

Check out Yarra Bend’s approach here, and shown in the image left. If your green fee is $30 and carts are $42, your blended rate would be $51 ($30 plus $21). Ok? 

The add-on

Next, “add-on” is anything added to a tee time booking after the price has been selected, kind of like asking if you ‘want fries with that’. 

Treating a cart as an add-on means the price of the cart is not shown to the golfer until they have selected their tee time and green fee. Have a look at the picture to the right for a Quick18 add-on screen. 

Finally, by “seat” we mean a seat in the cart – usually two seats per standard golf cart. 

The typical Australian approach

In Australia, golf carts have traditionally been sold as an add-on. Typically carts are a flat price around $30-$45, and the price buys the customer a whole cart (2 seats). If the booking is a threesome, they’ll get 2 carts and pay full price for the pleasure. If a single player joins that tee-time, they might introduce themselves, ride along and split the cost with the third player. Or they might walk. Or at some courses, they’ll pay for their own cart, and the group will end up with 3 carts driving about for 4 players (slowing down play).

So for that initial threesome, they just have to split the cost of two carts three ways. Bit awkward? Well, that’s the customer’s problem.

Many of you will know our views on this approach: it isn’t exactly customer first. How many threesomes end up walking to save the hassle, leaving two carts unused (and $$ on the shelf)? Who knows.  But, you say, how wise is it to run a blended rate and allow a cart to go out for half usual price, in the case of singles or threesomes? A win for the customer, sure – but revenue gone missing. So where’s the win-win solution? Growing total revenue is the answer, in the way that best suits your facility.

Pros & cons of the blended rate

Running a blended rate has two big benefits. First, the option of a cart is clearly shown on the booking page, encouraging cart use. This is especially important if your marketing is focussed on encouraging cart use. 

Second, you can yield-manage your cart fleet, just like your tee times. A blended rate can be managed with all the same price controls, including options like:

  • demand-based prices
  • incentives for different booking channels
  • reduced rates on off-peak periods

…to name a few.

Take this example: a cart booked for a 10am tee time will probably only be used once that day, as it must be held for the 10am booking. A cart booked for 7am will probably rotate twice, making twice the revenue. So why not make the “golf & cart” price a little more at 10am? This has to be visible to the customer, to drive the price-sensitive person to a time where the price is lower. A blended rate in our price matrix gives the customer all the information they need. An add-on doesn’t have that impact.

However, a blended rate does mean a single person booking will get the cart at a cheaper rate, perhaps as low as half the full cart price. It’s difficult to discriminate between singles and other groups when you run a blended rate.

Pros & cons of the add-on

So to option 2: running carts as an add-on. As we noted, in Quick18 carts are sold per-seat, and you can simply set that price at (say) $20. But this leaves us with the problem of a single paying $20 for a whole cart. 

To overcome this, we recommend a cart price for a single, and a separate cart price for groups of 2 or more. A threesome doesn’t get shown the single-person rate, they just see the rate applicable to them. Similarly the single booking only sees their cart price. If your desired cart price is $38, we would recommend an add-on cart price of $35 for singles, and $20 per person for all other groups. Sure, that means a threesome is taking two carts for $60 ($30 per cart), but a foursome takes a cart for $80, which is $40 per cart. Over time you can tweak the prices to get the revenue you want – and in the meantime a per-person price is an easier option for golfers. Customer first, right? By offering a slightly better deal for singles at $35, you might also turn a few more carts for single bookings than you do right now.

However, whilst this avoids the issue of a single-person picking up a half-priced cart, yield management benefits are harder to achieve when carts are an add-on. You can’t easily show the customer different cart prices through the day, and yield management depends heavily on giving people a choice between different prices. 

Quick18 will work with you

Ok, so this got a bit complicated – the point is we can work with carts added on during the booking, or as a blended rate. As a general rule a small fleet already working hard probably works best as an add-on sale, whilst a big fleet that needs to be pushed is best sold as a blended rate, but general rules need to be challenged. If you’d like to talk further about your course, and explore which option is best for you, drop us a line or email today.

And of course, knowing how many carts are available is critical. Quick18 offers this information right on the tee sheet, taking into account both carts currently out, and carts booked later in the day.