Enticing American golf travellers

By Emily Kay 2 weeks ago

The US golf market represents a significant opportunity for global golf destinations. Vic Aliprando, TPC Network’s Senior Vice President, explains what American golfers consider when booking a trip abroad and how venues can capitalise on this.

With 45 million Americans playing golf, both on and off-course in 2023, the United States represents an attractive target market for global golf destinations.

In his session during the 2024 European Tour Destinations Annual Conference, Vic Aliprando, Senior Vice President of the TPC Network, was joined by his colleague Alissa McCrandall, Senior Manager, TPC Passport, to present research on how best to target American golfers.

“The US golf market is growing considerably each year. So, enticing golfers to travel further afield to experience courses, resorts and destinations in international locations is a substantial opportunity for venues across the Atlantic to take advantage of,” said Vic.

“There’s also a further 22 million people who didn’t play golf in 2023, but said they would be interested. This latent demand, which has grown 45 per cent since 2019, suggests that the potential market is a sizeable figure.”

The top-line of Vic and Alissa’s research, based on a survey of TPC Network venue members, suggests when golfers in the US are looking at travel options abroad, they’re primarily looking at venues offering the same quality that they are accustomed to on American soil.

 Vic explained: “First and foremost, Americans want their travel to be easy. They want all elements of their booking – and the respective costs – to be included as part of their booking. So, things like airport transfers, golf bags, any additional ground transportation, etc. are within the travel itinerary.

“And, when it comes to their hotel, they want spacious rooms, superior comfort, and, above all, first-class service. They’re looking for that VIP treatment as well when it comes to their booked activities.”

The TPC Network’s research helped define three consumer profiles:

1. Golf Buddy Trips

 “This group is likely to comprise low-handicap golfers, looking for a trip away with friends of a similar playing ability, seeking a destination with multiple courses in one area.

“They want iconic golf courses or layouts with unique designs, by the sea, with exceptional vistas, anything ‘bucket-list’ worthy, they would be keen on. So, for ‘newer’ or emerging golf destinations, special packages could be a good way of attracting this group of golfer.

“It is also important to get the ground transportation element right for these golfers. Having booked to play multiple courses, there is an expectation that transfers will be organised in advance – and already included in the price.

“Finally, from an accommodation point of view, this type of golfer would opt for larger suites or even villas, which would allow them to increase the group size from maybe four to eight people.”

2. Golf as part of the trip experience

 “For this consumer group, they’re more likely to consist of couples, whereby the trip is more about the experiences that you can enjoy at the destination, of which golf is one.

“These travellers would be looking for a destination that offers unique cultural experiences, where sightseeing, local excursions and traditional activities are of primary importance. Delectable post-round culinary options are also a priority – all of which they’d want to be included as part of the package.

“So, if your destination can offer wider cultural and gastronomic experiences, that’s unequivocally the way to market to this particular audience.”

3. A Family-Friendly Vacation

 “This customer profile is looking for a classic resort-style stay, with a family-friendly destination that can offer something for everyone – activities for the children, sightseeing or excursions for the adults, and more relaxed experiences for the grandparents.

“They’re looking to maximise their time away, potentially combining work with family time and a few rounds of golf as part of the same trip.

“So, perhaps promoting your concierge services, where itineraries can be tailor-made to suit a multi-generational group would be worthwhile, as for these types of clients, a ‘one size fits all’ package isn’t what they’re after.

“Making them feel special with a home-from-home experience will plant the seed for potential repeat visits.”

European Tour Destinations and TPC Network recently partnered to provide their respective members access to world-class golf venues spread out across the world, extending the relationship between the PGA TOUR and the European Tour Group.

To find out how your golf destination could benefit, visit the European Tour Destinations website.

 

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