Court hire rates--is badminton an expensive sport?

Discussion in 'General Forum' started by Zohar, Oct 7, 2020.

  1. Zohar

    Zohar Regular Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2017
    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    NZ
    In NZ, the court hire rate for members is between 13NZD/hr (Auckland) and 25NZD/hr (Wellington). Comparing to any gym, squash, or tennis where the weekly fee to play/train unlimitedly is 20NZD, badminton seems like a ripoff.

    Assuming it's similar around the world, this affects the sport's character: it's more doubles oriented, playing at social clubs, and it's more about sitting around and chatting than playing.

    Is there a reason for these outrageous prices? For example, building and maintaining a badminton court doesn't seem more expensive than a tennis/squash court.
     
  2. phihag

    phihag Regular Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2014
    Messages:
    993
    Likes Received:
    690
    Location:
    Germany
    In general, badminton courts should be cheaper than Tennis, because they need less space.
    However, badminton needs expensive mats and is played indoor, hence needs heating in cold or AC in warm regions. In commercial settings you also need somebody to accept money. This person will cost on average ~30€/hour, and during most times the hall is nowhere close to full (which it may be between 18:00 and 21:00 on weekdays).

    In Germany, we have two popular systems:

    Commercial halls cost about the same as in New Zealand, roughly between 5€ and 18€ per hour (including VAT), depending on day, time, and location. There is a person in the hall, and they often have mats. Often, it's cheaper to go to a general sports center, because there the person handling badminton may be shared with other sports.

    Club halls are generally owned by the city, county, and/or schools. People pay per year, so nobody is being paid to supervise the hall.
    Altogether, you pay roughly 0,30€-1,50€ per hour per year, although many players will only use a fraction of that.
     
  3. Zohar

    Zohar Regular Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2017
    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    NZ
    In NZ:
    - There's no A/C or heating.
    - Most badminton centers, including the most expensive one, don't have mats, but only squash-like parquet floor.
    - There's an automated system for booking, and there's no person who does that.
    - There are no city clubs. Only clubs owned by a non-profit association.
    - Court size compared to squash: a singles court isn't much bigger than a squash court.
     
  4. phihag

    phihag Regular Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2014
    Messages:
    993
    Likes Received:
    690
    Location:
    Germany
    That is impressive. So there is no employee physically present at the hall? How do they prevent somebody just playing without booking? Does this mean you can must always pay online?

    Are you sure? Right now, google says the temperature in NZ is 12°C. Isn't that a bit cold to play?

    If these clubs are non-profit, then you should be able to look at their books, shouldn't you? Surely the money must go somewhere.
     
  5. llrr

    llrr Regular Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2017
    Messages:
    1,323
    Likes Received:
    549
    Location:
    Somewhere
    $25 AUD/hr in Australia. No aircon/heating, no automatic booking system. It's pretty expensive yeah..
     
  6. Magwitch

    Magwitch Regular Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2019
    Messages:
    115
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    Australia
    Perhaps the rate could go down if they can also get pickleball bookings. That is a sport that has elements of badminton, and is played on the same court, just with a lower net. One of the clubs I belong to have their own stadium, but pickleball play there too.
     
  7. Zohar

    Zohar Regular Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2017
    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    NZ
    @phihag,

    Heating/AC: I didn't say the weather is pleasant; I said there's no heating/AC. And yeah, I'm sure about it. I also know that the same thing holds in the "claustrophobic" squash courts--even in summer.

    Automated booking system: the squash courts are actually manned. The badminton courts aren't manned at all. For example, you can play during Christmas. They have an online system for booking. Also, there's a local computer in the center, which you can access with a keycard and do the booking--same as the online system.

    What forces people to pay? The system is connected to the light system--it turns it on and off.
    What prevents you from booking and lighting courts 1 & 3 and play comfortably on court 2 as well? Nothing. But in peak time, there's usually someone from the association around, and he would tell on you.

    Non-profit: that's a good idea. Last year, I sent to the AGM meeting a question--my center membership gives me association membership--of why it costs so much but never got a reply. Now that I think about it, indeed the financial records should be available, and it would be a good idea to follow on that.

    I just seemed to me like a world-wide problem, and maybe I can get an answer to that online. To emphasize, the nitpicking on the court size and such doesn't really matter (irrelevant constant factor). We are talking about an order of magnitude price difference between squash and badminton: roughly 20$/hr vs 20$/week--unlimited.

    As a squash player, I used to play 3hr a day. As a badminton player, I play once/twice a week a 2.5hr doubles club, where half of the time I'm sitting down, and half of the play time is with beginners. I have a hard time finding singles players to play with, and with these costs, it's not surprising.

    Now that I think about it, most people don't have a problem with that and actually prefer to rest more during the club. Maybe badminton players are more "lazy", they require less, and this influences the market to make the play-time sparser and more expensive? But then, where does that money go? You'd need to manage it really bad to spend money on nothing as an association.
     
  8. It'sMeMeMe

    It'sMeMeMe Regular Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2004
    Messages:
    4,112
    Likes Received:
    606
    Location:
    United States
    Here in my city court rental rate ranges from 1usd/hr to 4usd/hr....so far i can't find any court more expensive than that....there are cheaper than 1 usd but mostly unplayable for many reasons unless you're pure newb

    You should move to indonesia :D
     
  9. llrr

    llrr Regular Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2017
    Messages:
    1,323
    Likes Received:
    549
    Location:
    Somewhere
    It's just what happens when badminton is a minority sport. In badminton dominant countries court hire is probably the least of the costs.
     
  10. Zohar

    Zohar Regular Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2017
    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    NZ
    I just recalled the they sent me last year's financial statement:

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ERpAZZQAYeYjMD7Sn7ybT_LUt88HhcZs

    It seems that the center's shop along with its staff and the coaches (division and junior clubs) are part of the association, and they are paid salaries and wages.

    From a quick look at the financial report, it seems that most income comes from court hire, and most of the expenses go to salaries and wages. And again, the hall itself doesn't seem to be needing someone to maintain it as a full time job--assuming that the shop generates enough revenue to pay for its expenses (staff and all), which apparently it doesn't.
    I doubt I get more details than that, but it seems preposterous: most of the money that I pay to hire a court doesn't actually involve the costs of the court.

    Based on my previous squash example, I would guess that if a profitable business would open a badminton hall, then it would break the market.

    Until I get a better explanation, I conclude that badminton court hire is a rip-off.
     
    michael5098 and phihag like this.
  11. phihag

    phihag Regular Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2014
    Messages:
    993
    Likes Received:
    690
    Location:
    Germany
    Say you pay them minimum wage; that is 18.90 NZD in money to the employee, so roughly 30 NZD/hour in total (you also have to pay taxes, insurance, costs to hire, pensions, etc.).

    An employee has to open and close, somebody must operate a cash register at least some of the time, there is general maintenance and cleaning being done. You also probably want to loan rackets and make sure they return for beginners, introduce beginners to the rules (e.g. no dirty shoes on court), et cetera.
    Let's say that an employee only needs to be present half the time (maybe there are times when only advanced players play, who all have a racket and very good manners.) At 12 hours open a day, this will cost you 6 · 350 hours / 30NZD/hour, which works out to 63k NZD.

    The direct hall expenses (heating, water, toilet paper, cleaning utensils, repairs, equipment, total hall depreciation) are 64k NZD.

    At 111k court hire income, you will have about 3k NZD cost for credit card processing. Even an online booking system has to be maintained and programmed by somebody, let's say that's 2k NZD. There are also general costs of operating even a non-profit, e.g. for this audit, financial management, a website, printers, and so on. Let's say we can get those down to 5k NZD.

    Altogether, if you'd close down everything but the court hire, then this enterprise would cost 137k NZD/year. Even if you reduce the employee time to 25% of the time courts are open, then you'd still end up with 105k NZD/year. This is against 111k NZD/year of income.

    Therefore, the hall could likely not be opened. Bear in mind that in some years, like 2020 because of COVID, you need significant reserves. This does not work unless you make a good profit in normal years. The court hire costs are absolutely appropriate.

    You can calculate that the shop generates 29k NZD/year (sales - cost of sales). Honestly, you likely need somebody at the hall full-time anyways, so unless you need to hire additional people explicitly for the shop, having a shop is worth it.

    Also, a shop and coaches enable badminton play and draw players. If you abandon everything but the raw court hire, it's much harder for people to start playing badminton, so the player base would dwindle over time, slashing your already insufficient income.

    There is the open market: If you believe that badminton court hires are a rip-off, why don't you open your own center and split the profit between your customers and yourself? Even profiting from the existing center's coaches and badminton support infrastructure drawing new players, this looks to be quite hard. Maybe you can learn from the people who run squash courts at a significantly lower price.
     
  12. Zohar

    Zohar Regular Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2017
    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    NZ
    Most of the things you mentioned should apply to any other business.

    If you don't like my squash example, then let's talk about a gym. You can go and pay casually $20 each time, or you can buy membership and pay 20$/week. Badminton, for some reason, doesn't offer me the 20$/week; why?

    And to repeat, most of the things you mentioned in my specific case don't apply directly to the court hire, and you can also attribute them to any other business.
    By the way, why isn't a coach a private enterprise, which pays for itself?

    Why am I not opening a center and breaking the market? Since I have better things to do with my time. But I believe this is something that should be looked into for someone who's interested.

    --

    But maybe it's a question again of market. Would a membership, e.g. 20$/week, model would hold here? That is, would enough people be interested, or are badminton players lazy, and they are fine with paying 350$/year to play a low-key club once a week?
     
    michael5098 likes this.
  13. ucantseeme

    ucantseeme Regular Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2010
    Messages:
    4,701
    Likes Received:
    1,937
    Location:
    on court no. 1
    To answer the question in the OP: I would say yes and no. It really depends what you call "expensive". I only played in Hong Kong and Germany. In Hong Kong I paid between 55-80 HKD for a session at my level, court booked, shuttles provided. I really loved it and the price was very decent, games were hard and challenging.

    In Germany I pay 14€ per month for my club membership, can train 4 times per week and can get 8,5 hours per week.

    I also booked courts at a sports center for 15€/h during the time my club was closed. IMO the price was also okay. If you don't do breaks over 1-2 minutes or chat long, the price is also reasonable. If I booked with 3 friends for 2 hours continous play, everybody paid 7,50€ court rent plus shuttles.

    I also play at a chinese badminton group. The shuttle providers get a discount and the organizer count the used shuttles. Each shuttle means 1,50€, so I provided mostly 4 shuttles on a 2 hour session and paid 3,50€, but need to travel 90km. Games also always hard and challenging.

    I personally think that it depends how much you are willing to spend for this kind of sport. If you don't collect expensive rackets and only play quality sessions, badminton is not expensive. I had a time in my life when I played as much as I could and this was expensive in relation to the quality of play.

    It also depends how important badminton is to you. Since it has a huge and important part in my life, costs are always okay.
     
    phihag likes this.
  14. Zohar

    Zohar Regular Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2017
    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    NZ
    @phihag,

    Let me try to emphasize my point further.

    Recently, I started playing with someone singles twice a week, 1.5hr each time. For the rate of 25$/hr, we pay 75$/week (3hr), ~3500$/year. It means that alone, I pay for court hire (only) 1750$/year for 3hr/week which barely tickles me. Are you frigging kidding me?!
    For the ~$100K revenue of court hire, the both of us pay 3%--wtf?!

    Did I mention that most of the time the courts are empty especially on Fri-Sun? Very low efficiency.

    How about the following business model instead. Assuming the center has at least 100 players, each pays 20$/week for unlimited play, which amounts to ~1000$/year, which would cover the court hire revenue. No need to even look into and argue the rest of the story.
     
  15. Zohar

    Zohar Regular Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2017
    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    NZ
    While the efficiency that I described is low, need to consider how optimal it can actually be.

    The peak hours are defined 6pm-10pm. 4hr * 7 days * 8 courts * 2 players ~= 600hr/week. For 100 players, this is 6hr a week for each player. If we do super cheap off-peak subscription and consider also that most games are doubles, this can be substantially increased.

    However you look at it, the current business model is flawed--and it would stay that way as long as there are free courts, and the hall isn't something like 90% of the time booked.

    And again, I'm no inventing the wheel here: this model is successfully applied to gyms, tennis, squash, etc.
     
  16. phihag

    phihag Regular Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2014
    Messages:
    993
    Likes Received:
    690
    Location:
    Germany
    Yes, that would work; provided you could find at least 111 players subscribing under this scheme to keep the current revenue.

    However, note that a flatrate means that players who play a lot are subsidized by those who only play once a week. Likely, your center doesn't have 111 dedicated players, but instead 20-50 really dedicated players who would profit from a flatrate, and hundreds of players who play only once a month on average. For the players who only play irregularly, paying 20$ per week doesn't make sense. Some players don't have enough money to pay 1000$/year, so you likely want reduced fees for low-income players.

    Also, this makes it harder for people to get into badminton. If you're just getting started with a sport, you don't want to commit much, and 20$ (likely more since there are administrative costs if you subscribe just for one week) can be a hefty fee just to swing a racket for the first time.

    In addition, with a flatrate you need to solve resource competition problems: What prevents me form joining the club and booking a court every hour of every day? What do you do if 80 of the 111 players show up at 6pm? When you pay by the hour, you can solve this problem by making it much cheaper to play when there are empty courts, and raising the prices during rush hour.

    At the end of the day, to get cheaper badminton, you only have limited options:
    1. Decrease costs (maybe you can volunteer to watch courts and handle the shop for 5 hours a week, and find some people who also do that on a volunteer basis?)
    2. Shift the revenues among players, as with your flatrate model. This will be met with resistance by the people who will have to pay more.
    3. Increase court usage. Maybe the center can offer you a cheaper price for low-demand times and/or mass booking? In Germany, it would not be uncommon to pay half of the normal price (which may be as low as 25% of the rush hour price) if you book a regular timeframe during low-demand hours.
      This also means that the more players play in your center, the cheaper it gets.
    4. Scaling effects. Building and maintaining a 20-court center doesn't cost twice as much as a 10-court center.
     
    ucantseeme likes this.
  17. Zohar

    Zohar Regular Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2017
    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    NZ
    Apply your misgivings to flat rate to the gym scenario--try, all of them. Somehow, I don't see anyone argues against a flat rate in this context.

    How to manage resources. However the squash center does it--need inquire. Maybe you are limited to only 6hr/week (see my previous relevant calculation). Maybe you need to pay extra for booking upfront in peak time.
    The model has already proven itself.

    I'd like to emphasize again the point of efficiency, arguing that until its maximized, any model is considered flawed. I can send you screenshots of the booking system for next week--7 days, but let me roughly summarize it instead:
    Mon: 4 (out of 8 courts) are booked for a club from 7pm-9.30pm. The rest of the day is empty.
    Tue: 5 courts, 4.30pm-6pm.
    Wed: 7 courts, 4-5.30pm; 2 courts, 6-7.30pm; 4 courts 7-10pm.
    Thu: 5 courts, 5.30-6.30; 6 courts, 7-10pm.
    Fri: completely empty.
    Sat: 5 courts, 10-12am; 2 courts, 2.30-4pm.
    Sun: similar to Sat.

    Does this make my point clearer?
     
  18. phihag

    phihag Regular Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2014
    Messages:
    993
    Likes Received:
    690
    Location:
    Germany
    But gyms are fundamentally different from badminton:
    • In most nations, badminton is not as well-known as gyms. Badminton requires people to discover it.
    • Most people generally start to go to the gym not to have fun, but because they want to lose weight or get stronger and lack the discipline to do that at home. From this perspective, it makes sense to bind yourself to a gym flatrate, so that you feel incentivized to go regularly. In contrast, badminton is entertainment for most players. You go to the courts because it's fun, not because you paid for it.
    • There is more competition for badminton: It competes against basically any other sport. In contrast, the main competition for a gym is other gyms.
    • Most people start to go to the gym at age 16-30, when they have sufficient funds but no dependents. In contrast, the majority of badminton players starts at age 7-16. In general, families (especially with many children) tend to have less money to spend.
    • The limit of time to be in the gym tends to be much lower. Most people will be in a gym less than 10h/week. In contrast, 20h/week badminton is certainly doable.
    I'm not saying that a flatrate can't work for badminton courts. In fact, as I wrote in my first post here, German clubs do have a flatrate model. But that works because
    1. it's generally in school halls that exist anyways
    2. halls are subsidized by city&state
    3. low employee costs: apart from coaches, most jobs tend to be done by the community or volunteers
    This makes the costs very affordable even for families: the standard fare tends to be around 100€-150€/year, and about half of that for kids or low-income households. Many clubs further subsidize large families.

    Yes, please do! My impression is that squash played much more in adulthood than as a youth sport, but apart from that it should be very similar to badminton. Maybe you can get a similar cost/revenue overview from them?

    There's your problem! Following this, it means the center is in severe trouble, as it is never fully used. Opening a center when there are no customers is a waste of money.

    Since there are lots of empty court times, the center can certainly offer a flatrate, if only at the price you are currently paying on average.

    But switching everybody to an expensive flatrate is probably a very bad idea, as it may lead to some (especially the lower-level) members leaving. But having many lower-level players is required to acquire new members.
     
  19. Zohar

    Zohar Regular Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2017
    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    NZ
    Another idea. Currently, $500--similar to a non-premium gym membership for a year--can buy me 20hr for the rate of 25$/hr. For a year (50 weeks), this gives me 25min/week. Instead, sell 150hr for $500 (equals to a rate of 3.3$/hr for buying in bulk). This would work based on my previous estimation of splitting resources $20/6hr/week ($1000 a year).

    This rate can be adjusted based on demand.
    We can start with 100hr for $500 (5$/hr rate), which is 2hr/week. Doesn't break the bank, and I assume people play at least a couple of hours a week. It's also a simple enough suggestion to implement in the current state.
     
    #19 Zohar, Oct 8, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2020
  20. Zohar

    Zohar Regular Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2017
    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    NZ
    #20 Zohar, Oct 8, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2020

Share This Page