Sports venues have it tough. Peak times can be severely overcrowded, with double booked courts and a waitlist for classes. On the flipside, a sports centre at 11 am on a Tuesday can resemble a ghost town (cue tumbleweed and Western music). It is during these off-peak times, that money is sucked up through the air vents, making the margin of profit less and less. We’ve compiled our top tips to help you make use of idle courts and pitches.
Market to those who stay at home
Weekday mornings tend to be quiet, as most people are either at school or work. However, stay-at-home mums or dads could benefit from ‘Parent and Child’ sessions or ‘Tennis Bootcamp’. Retirees may enjoy playing if they have somewhere to chat over coffee afterwards. Consider running low-impact sessions that incorporate elements of pilates or work on coordination, strength and balance.
Bubble arena in winter
The bubble option is pretty pricey, so you must ensure you have the demand for it. Each winter, more and more tennis clubs are erecting poly air domes over their courts. The dome can be assembled and disassembled within a matter of hours. Air circulates within the tent via a fan unit (which also doubles as a heater). Bubbles require investment, costing around £55,000 for a single court. Once purchased the materials are yours to store during the summer months. They last between six and eight years, with replacement parts available at discounted prices.
This concept is pretty straightforward but essential if you want to increase footfall during these off-peak times. Adjusting your price points is a delicate balancing act; you don’t want peak time players to become outraged at the difference in price, but the saving needs to be enough to entice people in. A 15 to 30% reduction is a good goalpost mark for you to experiment between. OpenPlay makes it simple to adjust your pricing for each session so that you can play around with different options. If you get it wrong, try a new pricing plan!
Promote your pitches on a platform
If you’re a small venue, or perhaps a school with a football pitch, you may not be the obvious choice when people are searching for facilities. Having your facility on OpenPlay expands your potential reach, making more people aware of your services; you might say it evens the playing field.
Get in touch with nearby schools and offer class coaching sessions or host their sports day at your venue. These can be one-off days or weekly events. If they are not keen on taking slots that occur during school hours, perhaps you can run an after-school club. Offer to collect the children from school and walk them to your venue. Parents will be delighted as it saves them making an extra journey.
A dark court is an unplayable court. With night falling as early as 4 pm in December, if you do not light up your courts or pitches, you sacrificing after-school training and evening sessions. Floodlights are expensive to run, so many clubs operate them via a token system. Players buy tokens and insert them into the light slots, activating the lights for an hour at a time.
Get bookings online
Gone are the days when people will inquire in person or by phone; everybody is online. Reservations need to be quick, portable, and 24/7. By using OpenPlay’s booking software, you can accommodate last-minute bookings as well.