Golfmiles: A rewards system for the players
LIMERICK-BASED Gary Neville and David Hickey are avid golfers who have turned their passion for the game into a new business.
It’s called Golfmiles and is an e-commerce platform and loyalty programme, rolled into one, that aims to benefit golfers and golf clubs alike.
On the consumer side golfers sign up (for free) and buy rounds from Irish courses such as Adare Manor and the K Club.
For each euro they spend, they get golf miles which can be used to claim free rewards from participating clubs.
For clubs the potential pay-back is two-fold: increased bookings and access to customers’ buying patterns which can be used for marketing purposes or to sell add-ons such as meals and accommodation.
“We have spent two years interviewing golf clubs and golfers of all levels to develop a website that enables golf clubs to better market themselves to golfers and reward them for their custom,” says Neville.
“Due to the difficult economic climate there is a big change in how golf is being played, particularly in the US which is our main target market with an estimated 28 million golfers.
“Traditionally, a large proportion of golfers were club members paying an annual subscription. Now 90 per cent of golf in the US is pay and play.”
Golfmiles was launched in mid-July using the Irish market as its test bed.
Neville says a conservative estimate for the numbers playing golf here is 230,000 and more than 1,000 people signed up to the site in the first three weeks.
To date more than 20 clubs have joined the Golfmiles programme. Neville’s aim is to bring many more of Ireland’s 400-odd clubs on board as quickly as possible.
“We have tried to make the proposition attractive and varied with early-bird and twilight rounds for time-pressed golfers, special offers for lady golfers and for parents who want to play with their children.
“Effectively, a golfer gets 10 per cent back on every purchase – it’s a simple win-win.”
Golfmiles takes a commission on each sale and “banks” a percentage to cover the cost of meeting its redemption liabilities.
Neville estimates it has cost himself and Hickey about €60,000 to get the project to “beta launch” stage.
The company has received some support from Enterprise Ireland and has recently moved into the Hartnett Centre at Limerick Institute of Technology which was set up by John Hartnett, the founder of the Irish Technology Leadership Group based in Silicon Valley.
Neville is hoping that this link will pay dividends when the company starts looking for a partner to break into the US market with.