Global Edition

 

London Golf Show Review

9.20am 10th May 2007 - Exhibitions & Conferences

The official attendance of the London Golf Show over the four days was 25,626. Colin Brunton, chairman of The Golf Show Co Ltd – owner of the London Golf Show – said, “While this is down on the number from last year, it should be noted that in 2007 we allowed free entry to under-16s and PGA pros. And anybody who was at the show will confirm there were an enormous amount of youngsters present, particularly at the weekend.”

He added, “Perhaps the most important figure of all from the research we undertook at the show was that the average dwell time – or visitor duration – was increased by around 23 per cent to five hours, 11 minutes. As our raison d’etre is to have a profitable show with happy exhibitors and happy visitors I think we can justifiably claim it as an unqualified success.”

Certainly the evidence is that manufacturers who exhibited at the London Golf Show were overwhelmed by the number of people who tried out their clubs on the 32-bay indoor range.

David Howell was a big crowd puller
Cleveland were delighted by the number of visitors who took advantage of the custom-fitting service made available through the Tour trailer, which made its first visit to the London Golf Show. Ben Davis, marketing manager for UK and northern Europe, said, “It has been a very successful show. The tour van goes out to our demo days at clubs and ranges across the country, but people were very impressed that they could trial and buy clubs and have them custom-fitted just as our tour pros do.”

Having David Howell – their top European player – as the biggest name in the game to visit the show brought the crowds flocking to the Cleveland stand on Friday. Howell was very impressed. He said, “The show’s great. I had a chance to look around and it’s really interactive. It’s great to see so many smiling faces. There are loads of gadgets and new clubs for people to try out. It’s fantastic.”

Davis added, “David’s visit was a big crowd puller – but we have been busy all day long on all four days.”

Cleveland’s experience was repeated for Callaway and Wilson Staff, with the former’s square driver attracting a lot of interest, while the latter claimed to have sold more clubs than any of the other exhibitors.

Wilson’s Andy Clift said, “We have shifted lots of sets of our Di7 irons and the DH6 hybrids have been extremely popular. I think it has been shown that we have sold more sets than anyone else. It has been a phenomenal show for us.”

Callaway’s Cameron de Buck was another happy exhibitor. “The interest in our products has been fantastic,” he said.

It was a similar story for Yonex whose bays were full from the moment the public were allowed in at 10am each morning, to the close of the show every day.

Free fitting in fifteen minutes
american golf was the London Golf Show’s official retailer for the first time – and project manager Matt Bacon reported great feedback from the thousands who flooded through the store on all four days. He said, “We had four bays where anyone interested could try out a club before buying and our staff were able to meet their expectations and needs very well. They were extremely impressed by the fact that we could measure them up for their clubs and get them custom-fitted on site within 15-20 minutes, free of charge. And of course, we were able to offer bargains galore with our ultra-competitive pricing. The show has been a great success and we are very proud to have been part of it.”

Live on-site TV
GolfBugtv was the official TV channel for the London Golf Show and set up an on-site TV studio where presenter, Rupert Bell, interviewed representatives from golf brands like Glenmuir, Cleveland and Srixon, tour operators from all over Europe and golfing celebrities such as David Howell, John Inverdale and Roger Chapman.

Having an on-site studio created a real buzz around the GolfBug stand with both show visitors and exhibitors interested in who was saying what under the ‘lights, camera, action’ set.

“To have a ‘live’ on-site TV studio was, we believe, a first for a golf show and we look forward to doing a lot more as it’s a good way of raising the GolfBug.tv profile and meeting clients and viewers alike face to face,” commented Andrew Cooke, founder of GolfBug.tv, the world’s first internet TV channel. “During the four days of the Show we received a lot of interest in GolfBug from the public as well as some very positive feedback from potential advertisers.”

Golf marketing and pr specialist Andy Hiseman said that his clients were very satisfied. “This year’s London show worked well for us, as it has in both previous years. We did some business and socially it’s great fun too. Most of our clients were there in some form this year, and feedback from those who were exhibiting was extremely positive. Both The Shire London and Playgolf Northwick Park achieved some excellent data capture figures.”

£22,500 raised for SPARKS
Probably the most active of all golf simulator companies – Sport Coach Systems of Dorking – also reported a good show, both in terms of return on investment and donations generated for the children’s medical research charity SPARKS. SCS traditionally runs their simulator programmes to help raise money for SPARKS, and with punters paying out a minimum of £2 a go, the charity will have benefited by at least £22,500 over the four days’ activities.

Getting to the SCS demonstration bays was usually quite hard because while the charitable nature of the SPARKS involvement attracted many kindly souls, it is the sheer quality of the company’s high-res graphics on the big target screen that in themselves are a mesmerizing attraction for both the public and trade. That’s their appeal.

Commercially, the systems are sold for swing analysis and coaching, club evaluation and custom-fitting, and also as a way to play some of the world’s most outstanding destination courses – all through high end graphics and digitization.

Seeing is believing, apparently, and alongside members of the public delighted at being able to play the likes of St Andrews and Pebble Beach, some of golf’s most powerful developers and golf course architects stood entranced as well, thinking of the possibilities of digitizing their visions for lucrative investment opportunities.

A Sports Coach Systems spokesman estimates the business written as a direct result of appearing at the Show to exceed £100,000. An event like the London Golf Show is the ideal vehicle to demonstrate the company’s mission statement – that this is the best value-for-money system on the market, with the best simulator software worldwide and Andy Cole, director of Sports Coach Systems Limited, said, “We thought generally the show has now become established, particularly in the eyes of the public. We had a good show as far as interest generated is concerned; hopefully we will see increased business, in the near future. As there is no trade show in the UK, there seems to be a significant amount of trade business done, between visitors and exhibitors alike.”

GBN interviews Helena Kopeckà¡ from CzechTourism
The golf travel and holiday section is an important part of the London Golf Show and Golf Business News.com interviewed Helena Kopeckà¡ from CzechTourism.

What did you think about the number of visitors that you met and were they interested in holidays in the Czech Republic?
We estimate the number of visitors who attended the Czech Republic stand reached around 300. This is obviously no massive number considering the size of the show, but regarding the fact that it was our first participation at the London Golf Show we were rather satisfied and our premier golf tour operator Abante has received some inquiries.

Did they already know about all your lovely golf courses or was it a surprise?
Most of the people were surprised that there is some good golf in the Czech Republic and that the history of the Czech golf goes 100 years back and actually is connected with the English king Edward VII. They proved to be keen on the new destination and travelling in this direction.

What did you think of the travel section of the Golf Show?
The travel section of the London Golf Show would deserve extending (all the key players on the golf tourism market should be present) and the attention of the visitors should be intentionally drawn to it. I think the general tendency of all golf shows is to introduce more of golf tourism as it is trendy and people look for information like this, but it also needs marketing to the visitors. The visitors should know for sure that they can also buy holidays at the fair and not just new golf clubs.

And of the Show in general? And of its location? And of this time of year for doing business?
The location of the show is good as well as the timing because this is in fact the last golf show of the spring season. Of course it would be probably better to shift it (e.g. to March – just before the season starts in many golf countries) but that would cause problems, I guess, as there are many shows in March and the dates would probably clash.

In general I find the London Golf Show a good fair, even though I think it should offer a lot more to the visitors as well as the exhibitors. Considering the fact that it was our first year at this fair and knowing it was Britain´s biggest golf show, we expected it to be a very prestigeous event, which everybody involved in golf in Europe feels it´s necessary to attend (such as Golf Europe Munich is for the golf equipment companies).

However, the impression the fair made on me was far more modest. The travel section was definitely not best organised as most of the tourist boards present to which I talked complained about the small number of visitors.

Did you achieve any major business success or perhaps get a project started that might lead to great things in the future?
From the business point of view London Golf Show is a perfect place to meet with the media, tour operators, industry people and so on. We have discussed promotion possibilities with the leading UK golf magazines and we are considering preparing a supplement next year which indeed would be a big thing for the Czech Republic. It was a very successful show for the Czech Republic to meet the industry people, to discuss the business, to do the networking.

How did the Show compare to others that you been to?
Most of the Golf Shows I have attended this year are rather small. As I have said, I expected more from the UK´s premier golf fair … something that would make you say: wow, we really have to be here next year! I think the other golf shows simply stressed golf tourism more and also, I found the accompanying programme for the visitors better and more interesting at some of them. Everybody has a fashion show and driving range, but the trick show is great and competitions, seminars etc make people stay longer.

Will you exhibit at the Birmingham version in November?
No

Will you come back to London again next year?
We definitely have to be there as the UK market is interesting for the Czech Republic and there is no other way (in terms of exhibitions) how we might present ourselves to that market. The Czech Republic needs to build a tradition at the London Golf Show and only then the stand will receive more visitors from the general public (because we couldn’t complain at all about the business contacts that we made), but the organisers should make some improvements, too.

Still in the travel section Peter Callaghan for the Portuguese Golf Club said, “We had a very successful Show. We had many visitors to the stand which was well positioned, though a little noisy with the fashion show behind us! Some new members joined up there and then, others took paperwork home to fill in and join directly on the web, which of course is the easiest and quickest way to join.

“It is of course very difficult to know how many of those who just took fliers away will actually join up, but we are able to monitor our website and always see a big increase of users viewing the website after a show.”

Some disappointment
Among the smaller trade stands some companies were disappointed with the look of the show. “Not having a carpet made it look barren and unprofessional,” said one. “We were paying enough for the stands to make us entitled to expect a better presentation,” was the verdict of another while a third not only said that the lack of carpet made the Show look cheap but also went on to criticise some stands for having poorly-lit displays.

On the whole, however, the feedback was positive.

Pants from Scandinavia……
Nordic Golf Trends (NGT) is a distributor that has an exclusive handle on one or two golf products that are very special indeed. NGT is probably best known for distributing Butthead Covers and the Glove-It range of women’s accessories, but the London Golf Show saw them with a few more strings to their bow.

The Glove-It products are sets of sun visors, single gloves, accessory bags and water bottles in various combinations, but with very stylish and attractive patterns and colourways available. These were easily the fastest-moving products for NGT at the show, with well over three quarters of women and couples who visited the stand parting with cash. This year, the company also launched a junior range of matching sets for mums and daughters – as far as MD Anne Hopkins is aware – the only brand to bring this idea to market so far.

In addition, NGT showed its latest Member of Scandinavia apparel brand with edgy gear for male and female golfers. By far the biggest pull, though, was the Member Underneath complementary range of his and hers golfing underpants. The microfibre / merino wool mix of these promises to keep golfers cool and dry in the private members area under trying conditions… great fun and bound to be a winner.

Aside from good public interest, a lot of golf pros made orders, an agent was appointed to cover Norfolk and the East Midlands, and negotiations were opened for NGT to become associated with The English Seniors Open at St Mellion International from Friday 17th August to Sunday 19th August this year.

…..and belts from Canada
The mission of the London Golf Show could have been written especially for PR Golf Distribution this year. 2007 saw the Belfast-based company (distributors for the likes of Yes! Golf, Champ Spikes, Stuburt, Powerbilt and Golf Pride) branch out into crested promotional goods under its new brand Premier Licensing.

Having sourced what he believes to be the highest quality accessories available anywhere (brollies, bag tags, divot tools, head covers etc.) MD Steve Riley was taken aback by the enthusiasm of premier clubs like Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool FC and Everton showed for the goods. The list of football clubs granting the official licensing rights of their club crests to Premiership Licensing on the strength of the quality is growing almost daily. All the clubs needed to do was feel the product. Similarly for the club-loyal golfers at the London show, seeing the products in the flesh was enough to have them reaching for their wallets.

The wild card for PR Golf Distribution, though, was the Green Friendly Belt they brought in from Canada. These are high grade, one-piece leather belts that incorporate a divot repair tool/ball-marker in the tip. Available in classic black or brown crocodile skin as well as blue, green, white and pink, the only people who were more crazy for these belts than the public, were the retailers. Kent-based retailer Pentland Golf ordered a couple of dozen for each of their chain of four golf club pro shops across the county. Meanwhile, official retail partner for the Show, American Golf, also spent a lot of time looking over the goods PR Golf Distribution had on offer.

Another exhibitor – a seller of high ticket items – was disappointed not at the number of the visitors but at their demographic profile. “This is the best of all the public shows we do,” said a spokesman, “although for us this year was not as good as in previous years. It’s not for us a question of absolute numbers but of the type of visitor that is attracted. If we get 50 or 60 of the right people that’s all we need.”

Paul Steels of Golf Pride said, “We met our objectives and would probably want to exhibit again, budget permitting. What the organisers produced people-wise was all we could cope with. We met plenty of people from our target market. If a reasonable proportion of the people that took our catalogues go to their pro shops and order it will have been well worthwhile exhibiting. Having use of a driving bay is essential if you’re going to succeed in demonstrating product benefits.”

Loadsasavings
Many visitors felt that they had found some real bargains at the Show.

Pals Daniel Crane and Josh Watson, both 16, travelled up from East Grinstead, in Sussex, and were pleased they made the effort. Crane said, “It was our first visit to the show and we spent a lot of time, having a look at the different stalls trying to find things to buy.” And Watson was pleased to walk away from the american golf store with a new Ping G5 driver and some new balls.

Lee Wigmore, from Broxbourne, and Lee Hicks, from Stanstead Abbotts, who travelled from Hertfordshire together, could not believe the bargains they found. The duo, who play at The Hertfordshire, walked away with armfuls of goodies. One picked up a Srixon driver reduced from £250 to £40 while the other bought two C02 rescue clubs for £20 each. “You can’t go wrong with that can you?” they chimed.

Thirty-six-year-old Claire Stevens, from Islington, is not a member at any golf club, but saved ‘loadsamoney’. She said, “I bought some new clubs and had a go on a simulator and practised my putting. The show is great for the development of the game and I really enjoyed the fashion show and seeing what the latest styles are.”

Lucky Dad
But maybe the happiest of all visitors was 15-year-old Jamie Rutherford, from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, who won an all-expenses paid trip to Sawgrass, in Florida, home of this month’s TPC. The teenager, who is a member of Knebworth GC, was one of 21 finalists for the Sunday shoot out on in the SPARKS floating green challenge on the dockside at ExCeL, after they had all managed to stop their ball inside a small target area on the artificial green, suspended in the middle of the dock, some 71 yards from the tee.

As one of just five competitors in the second round of the play-off, Jamie’s sand wedge finished around three feet from the pin. But in the pressure-cooker atmosphere he was the only one of the finalists to hold their ball on the green, negating the need for a third round. “I can’t wait to take Dad to Sawgrass, it is going to be a fantastic experience,” he said.

The prize – supplied by the venue and Supertravel Golf – comprises a seven-night, stay-and-play package for two at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa; two rounds on the TPC Stadium Course; complimentary flights; a complimentary ticket to the World Golf Hall of Fame; and exclusive access to the hotel’s private Cabana Beach Club, located minutes from the resort, along the 26-mile Ponte Vedra Beach.

London Golf Show www.golfshowco.com

       

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