As global golf participation continues to surge, the prospect of a strong recovery for golf travel is strengthening. But who are these golfers and what are they looking for?
Head of European Tour Destinations, Ian Knox, takes a closer look and tells us how venues are preparing to appeal to golf’s newcomers…
Resorts can be forgiven for feeling frustrated. Inundated with stories of ‘golf’s renaissance’ and surging popularity, but unable to translate this to success on the ground due to ongoing travel restrictions.
Savvy resorts will be well aware that the rising popularity of the sport (2020 participation numbers were the strongest in 17 years) opens up opportunities to connect with a new generation of customers.
The question is, who are these new players? Let’s take a look at three prime segments to understand the scale of the opportunity, and how some resorts are already making moves to appeal to golf’s newcomers.
Off-course golf participation has experienced a stratospheric rise – with no signs of slowing down. Great Britain & Ireland alone enjoyed a 2 million uplift in driving range use in 2020, primarily fuelled by the advent of technology and experience-led solutions, with similar trends across Europe and North America.
For this group, golf alone may not be enough. They crave excitement, entertainment, activities. They want an experience. The more experiential the product a resort presents, the more attractive it will be to this segment.
Across our network of venues, we have already seen the likes of PGA Catalunya Golf & Wellness embrace driving range technology, and bolster the experience they can offer to this new wave of players.
Family dynamics have shifted dramatically over the last year. Pandemic lockdowns have resulted in families spending a far greater amount of time together; welcome for many, a source of tension for others. But whether they are looking for a release or quality time away from home together, resorts can be perfectly positioned to appeal to a family’s needs.
A key to this is the promise of a safe and secure environment. And with the likelihood of continued localised precautions, families may look to stay within the sanctuary of the resort for extended periods of their break.
This paves the way for opportunities around new on-site amenities and family-based products and services, from golf lessons to playing experiences and everything between.
Terre Blanche, nestled between Provence and the French Riviera, has put family at the heart of their product offering. While its location and surrounds make it a natural choice for families, its amenities, such as its 5-star kids club, and services, such as its bespoke excursions, sets it apart from competitors and puts the resort in a prime position to rebound strongly.
Whether it’s physical or mental, health has never been at the forefront of people’s minds more than it is now. The notion of self-care is no longer an abstract one, but a fundamental part of daily routines.
Fortunately, golf’s evidenced health benefits have drawn more and more people to the game. Domestic membership markets are strong, and this new wave of avid golfers represents a significant opportunity for resorts as the world opens up.
Health and wellbeing themes are already playing a more active role in resort messaging and advertising – and this is a trend we expect to continue as they connect with this lucrative audience. Across the European Tour Destinations network, significant investment in health and wellness amenities is testament to the fact that this trend is here to stay.
So what next?
Ask yourself the following questions to ensure you are appealing to these new segments:
Are you marketing your off-course experiences effectively?
Is your messaging meaningful to families?
How often do you highlight health and wellness benefits of golf to potential customers?
Demand will be strong when international golf travel opens up, but an eye on these new segments may just help set you apart from the competition.