As Senior Vice President, Troon Golf Operations, Mike Ryan oversees daily fee and resort courses in the U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean. The son of a Navy fighter pilot, Ryan played on the University of West Florida golf team and has worked in the golf industry for almost three decades. He offers his take on dynamic pricing, the generational challenges facing golf, and why he remains optimistic about the future of the game.
You were the general manager at Kierland Golf Club in Phoenix when it opened in 1996. What have been the biggest changes in the industry since then?
What’s changed is how we go about developing customers and how we go about pricing our facilities. The latter is becoming closer to a utilization/dynamic-based model that hotels and airlines use. The constant has been the quality of the facilities at the daily fee and resort level. That continued even through the downturn in the late 2000s when we had to ratchet back expenses a bit. We continued to provide a very high end experience that was recognized as best in market.
What is dynamic pricing?
Dynamic pricing is an overall strategy which allows businesses to remain flexible as it relates to pricing and adjust either up or down, based on current market demands and overall utilization. We began implementing this model 4-5 years ago as our technology platform improved. It is a model that has been effective within other industries but just in the golf business for a short period of time. The enhanced technology allows us to set pricing guidelines utilizing statistical demand factors while eliminating guesswork from the equation. At the end of the day, it’s a model that is based on supply and demand. During periods of higher demand we may have the opportunity to be a bit more aggressive with pricing but subsequently when we have an over-supply of inventory we can provide opportunities to play at rates that are more attractive and fit the overall needs of the customer. We have seen revenue lift at locations where this strategy has been adopted and I am confident that we will continue to enhance this model and it will become more of a standard as we move forward.
Do you think the average public golfer understands the system?
I believe they do, but as mentioned it’s relatively new for our industry. Our customers are becoming more accustomed to seeing that dynamic method work. It takes some education and some time. Our business is very much about the personal touch and the phone has always been how we have taken reservations. But now that’s beginning to move more toward an electronic/online platform. This migration in technology has allowed us to be more nimble as it relates to pricing strategies. We are certainly fortunate here at Troon to have a team of dedicated IT professionals who are consistently exploring opportunities to improve our technology and provide our operators with enhanced tools to improve the experience.
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