Coronavirus: Playfinder platform sees huge increase in booking requests

Tennis courts are open for bookings using the online Playfinder platform

Tennis courts are open for bookings using the online Playfinder platform - Credit: Archant

Sports booking platform Playfinder has seen a huge increase in players trying to make a booking this week.

Prime Minster Boris Johnson’s address to the nation on Sunday evening revealed a new five step plan to ease the nation out of lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.

With more exercise permitted, including with one person from a different household while observing social distancing guidelines, Playfinder, which connects amateur sports players to over 5,200 sports facilities across the UK, has seen a 640 per cent increase in enquiries.

The first step of the plan has given people their first chance to get back to playing sport, with sports including tennis, golf and basketball now allowed to be played.

Of the interest Playfinder has seen for different sports, 65 per cent have been for tennis, 25 per cent for basketball and 10 per cent for golf.

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Playfinder’s mission is to make it easier for everyone to play sport, and to increase the utilisation of venues as a result.

Many are missing out on their daily kick of the ball or swing of the racket.

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In the UK, seven out of ten firms have furloughed staff, meaning communication with some of these venues is not often easy. Staff at Playfinder have been making calls up and down the country seeking those who have reopened their courts to the public.

However, as a result of staff remaining on furlough and operational challenges in the post-pandemic world, a majority of tennis and basketball facilities remain closed.

Envisaging an unpredictable road ahead for venues opening, Playfinder has launched a ‘Lockdown Status’ filter which only presents sports players with facilities that have been reopened. This new feature will be regularly updated to show venues as they reopen.

The challenges and pressures the pandemic has presented to the grassroots community cannot be compared to anything before, with the recovery looking long and uncertain.

In response, Playfinder has decided to waive booking fees for venues to help them get back up and running, meaning they pay no commission on bookings.

This applies to both existing and new venues that join, with a surge in demand seen in operators trying to join the platform.

Jamie Foale, cofounder and CEO of Playfinder, said, “We’ve seen a crazy amount of demand for people to get back out and play sport. We knew there would be a lot of pent up demand and so it is proving to be.

“Unfortunately, many venues have not been able to reopen yet so we have launched a new feature which enables players to search specifically for ones that have. We also want to give sports venues every resource possible to get back on their feet, so we have decided to waive booking fees so they can get maximum value from their customers during this tricky period.”

*Playfinder was originally set up under the name MyLocalPitch in 2014 by passionate sports fans who had struggled to find and book places to play football in London.

It soon became clear that there was an appetite for the service beyond London and for many other sports. At the start of 2018, Playfinder became the first London-based SportsTech business to raise more than £1 million in funding and former Chelsea FC player Graeme Le Saux joined the board of directors.

Last summer The Football Foundation, the largest sports charity in the UK, teamed up with Playfinder to revolutionise the way grassroots players access football facilities by delivering cutting edge technology to venues around the country.

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