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Most golf course managers know that they can edit their Leadingcourses.com profile via our Partner Extranet, but not yet everyone is convinced that an upgraded account is beneficial. We understand that managers are hesitant. They simply want proof that their euros will be spent well. Obviously we believe in our service, but up until now we could not provide reliable data proving an upgrade is well worth every penny.

Some things are very important, but you never seem to get around to doing it. Digging into our Partner Extranet statistics was one of those things. So, when some graduate students from the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences dropped by, this immediately popped up as a great research project. And, they liked it too!

In this blogpost we present their findings about the effects of the different Partner Extranet subscriptions offered by Leadingcourses. The effects have been measured using four indicators: pageviews, tee-times, clicks and reviews. If you do not fancy reading the whole blogpost, here is a brief summary:

  • choosing any paid Extranet subscription really pays off. A substantial increase can be seen on all four indicators (pageviews, tee-times, clicks and reviews) for all types of paid subscriptions.
  • surprising fact is that even an Essential subscription (our cheapest paid option) leads to an increase on all four indicators.
  • when looking on an individual level (so per club) the same positive results can be identified.

Research background

The research conducted by the graduate students of the AUAS focused on the effects of specific subscription types (Free, Essential, Interaction and Destination). If you want to know more about our paid Extranet subscription, then just surf to our features page of our Partner Extranet.
The effects of the subscription types were analyzed based on measurable indicators, such as: number of pageviews, number of tee-times, number of clicks and the number of reviews. As a method they used causal research (or explanatory research), which means that the study focused on the investigation of cause-and-effect relationships. To determine causality, it’s crucial to observe variation in the variable assumed to cause the change in the other variable(s), and then measure the changes in the other variable(s). The cause-and-effect relationship between variables was explored by digging into our pre-existing data.

Study population and data collection

The data set that was used for this study was confined to the Dutch market (285 golf clubs in total) since we have enough customers in the Dutch market to make the data set statistically viable. As The Netherlands is not a so-called ‘golf destination’ this market does not have a lot of golf resorts. Hence the small amount of ‘Destination’ subscriptions. As the Interaction and Destination subscriptions only differ on one item (replacing the Booking.com hotels with their own hotel listing) it was decided to combine these two types of subscriptions.

The effect of subscription levels on pageviews

Below you can see the difference in number of pageviews per type of subscription. It’s easy to see that upgrading to Essential increases the amount of pageviews significantly (+128%). This is actually quite remarkable, as the Essential subscription only provides full control of the main profile photo and the photo gallery. This might be an indicator that a profile photo is important for golfers and has a large influence on their clicking behaviour. Another explanation can be that clubs that have chosen for an Essential subscription already are quite popular in terms of pageviews. We know that in some cases this is true (like De Haagsche) but there were also quite some less popular golf clubs in the data set. So that cannot be the only explanation.

Upgrading to Interaction or Destination increases the amount of pageviews again to an 200% increase. This is not a real surprise as these subscription levels receive quite some additional exposure throughout Leadingcourses.com.

The effect of subscription levels on clicks

When looking at the effect of each subscription level on the amount of generated clicks (to website, to social media and phone number) it is clear that upgrading is a good idea. The growth in clicks from Free to Essential is 140% and growth from Free to Interaction and Destination is an astonishing 294%. Although ‘clicks’ are not the same as ‘sales’, it is a clear indication that people show peaked interest in that specific golf club.

The effect of subscription levels on tee-times

In the same graph above the effect is shown on the number of tee-times requested. In The Netherlands golfers (and golf clubs) are not really used to online tee-time reservations; most of them still prefer to use the telephone. Although the upgraded accounts show a positive increase in requests, we assume this effect will be much higher in golf holiday destinations like Italy, Spain and Portugal. If you go on a golf trip, making sure that you actually have a tee-time reserved is much more important than when you decide to play a round of golf close to home.

The effect of subscription levels on reviews

Golf clubs that have upgraded their account generate substantial more reviews (at least 202% increase for Essential and 283% for Interaction/Destination clients) than golf clubs with a Free account. This is quite obvious because these golf clubs are aware of our site, they see the value of customer reviews and they receive tools from us (widgets, business cards, etc.) to increase the number of reviews. But it is great that our data supports what we try to achieve.

Individual results – per golf club

We are very pleased with the results of this study, but we also asked the students to take a detailed look at individual cases. So, what was the effect for golf clubs that upgraded in 2017 from:

  • Free to Essential
  • Essential to Interaction/Destination

In the graphs below all golf courses are shown that upgraded their account from 1 January 2017 and onwards. The vertical axis indicates the number of pageviews. Each graph shows the situation in 2016 (before upgrading) and 2017 (after upgrading). Please note that the effect is actually larger than shown in the graphs as the statistics for 2017 only ran until 29-11-2017. For privacy purposes we have not used the club names.

Upgrade effect from Free to Essential
Upgrade effect from Free to Essential (5 clubs in total)
Upgrade effect from Essential to Interaction (5 clubs in total)
Upgrade effect from Essential to Interaction (4 clubs in total)

There were also 17 golf clubs that upgraded from Free to Interaction. To prevent adding graphs that all look similar, it will not come as a surprise that those golf clubs also saw a (large) positive effect on the amount of pageviews.

Conclusion

The students of the AUAS concluded that golf courses with a Free subscription show a substantial lower effect on the researched indicators (pageviews, clicks, tee-times and reviews) in comparison with golf courses with a paid subscription level. In addition, upgrading a Free subscription to an Essential subscription contributes to increasing the number of pageviews, teetimes, clicks and reviews for that golf course.

The Interaction subscription appears to be the best choice for the golf courses that are interested in increasing the researched indicators. The results for the Destination subscription are statistically less reliable because only 4 (1.4%) of the total amount of golf clubs have that specific account.

About Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS)

The AUAS trains the professionals of tomorrow. Practical oriented research is an important component of the educational programmes offered by our faculties. AUAS research always addresses a real-life world problem from the professional field, and the research is conducted in close collaboration with both academics and professionals working in the particular discipline.

The AUAS consists of seven faculties. AUAS has a total of 46,000 students and offers a total of 80 bachelor and master programmes. They have 250 partner institutes across 50 different countries and contribute to various educational projects such as curriculum development, research projects, student/professor exchanges and work placements within an international working field. This ensures that the education provided by AUAS is truly internationally orientated.

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