Author: Asian Tour
Original Article: https://asiantour.com/tee-time-saver-at-your-service
The COVID-19 pandemic may have forced the golf industry to abruptly hit the pause button, but many are braced and ready for the better days that are, hopefully, not too far away. We spoke to Tom Hutton, CEO & Founder of Tee Time Saver ‒ the official booking partner for Asian Tour Destinations ‒ who is a young entrepreneur with no doubts about where his company is heading.
Asian Tour Destinations is home to a growing number of the region’s elite and premier golfing venues, but it also boasts some key partners who are playing an important role in its emerging ecosystem.
This is certainly the case when it comes to Tee Time Saver, who are not only the exclusive network’s official booking partner, but also have the ‘Tech Sector’ well and truly covered for the group.
“We want to use technology to advance golf in Asia across all areas,” says Tom Hutton ‒ CEO & Founder of Tee Timer Saver.
“One of the key reasons we launched Tee Time Saver, was to help bridge the technological gap that exists in this part of the world. Having worked in the golf industry in Southeast Asia for many years, it was obvious that most of the major innovation was happening in the US and Europe, and taking a long time to find its way here, if at all. There has been, and still is, a huge opportunity to help innovate the golf industry in our region, across a plethora of areas.”
Searching For Innovation
Hutton worked for the Acushnet Company and their Titleist brand before launching Tee Time Saver in Singapore in 2018. They are now based in Bangkok, Thailand.
The company’s user-friendly online portal ‒ which allows visitors to search hundreds of golf clubs across the region in order to book tee times and packages ‒ is his sole focus at present and it’s a piece of tech that he is developing into a comprehensive search engine like no other in this part of the world.
“The model is little bit akin to Trivago, essentially,” says the Englishman.
“Basically, what we do is bring in tee time pricing from multiple booking partners and golf courses, via either API (Application Programming Interface) connection or through our Partner Portal, and allow golfers to search and book the best options in one place.”
He feels the booking process is a big part of golf which has been done the same way in Asia for many years ‒ in terms of making a phone call or sending text or WhatsApp message.
And while their website has been doing very well, they also have an app in development stage, which is due to be launched very soon.
He adds: “We started with the tee time booking process, but we believe there are many opportunities to branch into other areas.”
Different types of golf can be booked online through the site: a tee time, a stay and play package, a day trip package that involves transportation, golf tours for multiple days, and golf villa packages.
Trouble Off The Tee
Hutton is quick to admit that the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest challenge his business has faced so far.
“We had a relatively good year when we started in 2018, and in 2019 we were cruising along, we had a lot of golf tours set up for 2020, but then boom COVID hits, and everything is cancelled, everything stops,” he says.
Other hurdles to overcome include the fact that booking tee times online is in its infancy in Asia and will take time for people to get used to. Also, golfers in Asia tend to be older and therefore less likely to book online or use an app.
“But the demographic of golfers in Asia is changing. It is much less an old person’s sport and more of a younger person’s game. All of these things have posed challenges, but we are very confident of overcoming all of them.”
Streamlining Through Tech
Motivation comes in the form of the feedback he gets from customers, golf clubs and agents, especially when they have sold a Tour and clients have had a great experience with their technology.
“We feel we are in a unique position as this space grows. We will make improvements to Tee Time Saver which will include an events section, and an Improve section which will be for golf lessons, golf simulator bookings and driving range bookings.”
He also has impressive B2B plans which will see them use their portal to try and add a lot more features to support and help the relationship between golf clubs and booking agents.