The 8th European Golf Business Conference hosted by the European Golf Course Owners Association last week in Lisbon, Portugal has been hailed as ‘a huge success’ with over 500 golf courses represented from 21 countries. The event provided a refreshing insight into the global golfing industry, offering realistic, modern day solutions to the issues facing golf facilities around the world.
Day one opened with the 5th European Multi Course Owners meeting. The meeting played host to representatives of the Europe’s leading multi course owning organisations who gathered to discuss and collaborate on solutions to run more profitable golf facilities.
Day two was opened by EGCOA president Alexander Baron von Spoercken who gave delegates and insight into the latest developments in the European golf industry. Alexander announced the EGCOA’S new Project, VISION 2020 which will conduct an in-depth research into the European Golf Industry to create a clear direction& roadmap for the future of the game.
Creating Tribal Magic
Setting the pace for the day Gregg Patterson, GM of the Beach Club Santa Monica California delivered an unforgettable session entitled ‘Creating tribal magic within your club.’ “People need people. Their Tribe, unique, welded together through experience, amplified through stories told round the campfire. Some primitive part of our brains craves people, herd, the gang experience, the unique, the different and the exclusionary,” said Patterson and he added, “People hunger for the magic great tribes provide—a powerful intangible something that transforms the routine into the exceptional and the ordinary into the profound. Clubs need a magnet to attract and retain members; to get them in the door and coming back for more. They need tribal magic.”
Intelligent Pricing – mining course data for new gold
Dr. Nile W. Hatch, Chairman of the Quantival Corporation, and world renowned authority on dynamic & intelligent pricing addressed the audience regarding the strengths and weaknesses of numerous current pricing schemes, including time based pricing, demand based pricing, and yield management. Dr. Hatch illustrated how Quantival’s proprietary Intelligent Pricing Engine refines those models into Quantival’s 1-to-1 pricing for green fees or any perishable inventory. Dr. Hatch discussed the importance of intelligent tee sheets and intelligent tee times and unveiled the capability to set optimal pricing for all other complementary golf course revenue centers, including driving ranges, restaurants, pro shops & vended products.
“The use of pricing algorithms for green fees has delivered up to 40% increases in revenues for course owners on two of the top 5 US golf management companies,” said Hatch. He added: “With the increasing demands from consumers and the completive nature of the golf market the time has arrived for the guess work to stop. By adopting a scientific approach to pricing you can ensure maximum revenue for your facility and delivery of a price and a product that the consumer identifies with.”
Third Party Resellers & Tee Time Distribution
Inspired from Dr. Hatch’s eye opening presentation the discussion shifted gears to the delivery and distribution of online tee times. Opening this key session was Jeff Calderwood CEO of the NGCOA Canada. Jeff outlined the best practices golf facilities should follow when working with third party resellers and highlighted many of the pitfalls facilities can face if these platforms are not managed with caution.
“The third party reseller business exists because there is an imbalance between supply and demand in many markets,” Calderwood told delegates. “In the US, for example, figures show that golf courses operate on an average utilisation of 47 per cent. Third party resellers can help courses access younger customers, who prefer to buy online, but there are also dangers. Who owns the customer? Courses need to ensure it is them, not the reseller, and they need to be sure they are not simply discounting to their existing customers.”
Diogo Gaspar Ferreira, President of the Portuguese Golf Course Owners Association (CNIG) showcased how the co-operation of golf course owners and national tourism authorities can keep the control of the market firmly in the grip of the Portuguese golf course owners. Through this co-operation visitportugalgolf.com was born. The site is an excellent online platform for golf course owners to market their facilities and distribute tee times on their own terms.
Following these national insights a panel of big hitters from the world of online reservation technology joined the stage in an interactive discussion on the technological future of the industry in tee time distribution. The discussion raised questions as to actual benefit of using third party reseller’s verses the potential impact the opportunity could have on the integrity of your price and brand.
Sander Allegro, Managing Director of Allegro Innovations delivered an electric, interactive session aimed at delivering a fresh perspective on the golf industry through the use of a number of industry paradigms. The mind opening session set the stage for the launch of the EGCOA’S VISION 2020 project which will engage and pool the knowledge of the national golf course owners associations united in the EGCOA. Allegro will lead the strategy for the VISION 2020 project in the coming months with the delivery date of the project outcomes set for May 2014.
Finding, Binding & Understanding your Customer
Jeff Calderwood joined the stage again to share an insight into the Canadian Golf Market, home of the highest golf participation rate in the world. Jeff outlined many of the actions of the NGCOA Canada that have assisted in growing the game including their most recent Consumer Market Research Study. The study took a look under the hood and analysed the ‘’Why factor’’ resulting in a clear picture of what golfers are really looking for.
Getting back to basics on a branding front were EGCOA branding partners Wonderland Creative Consultancy. Leading the discussion was Managing Director Paul Skellett. “One of the keys to successfully marketing and branding your business today is clearly understanding the characteristics of generation X & Y,” said Paul. He added: “By acknowledging the gap between these ever changing generational markets and adopting strategic branding and marketing activities to adapt, golf facilities will be in great shape to cope with the modern needs of the golf market.” The day was closed with the conference dinner reception and EGCOA Awards Ceremony.
Technology in Golf
Day 3 was opened by a panel of golf industry technology leaders. The panel highlighted some of the new technologies available to golf course owners that can assist them in collecting key data which can be used manage their marketing activities. Delegates were given the opportunity to share with the panel their views on the future of technology in the golf industry. The session clearly highlighted that technology is at the top of the agenda for golf course owners.
Connecting with her
Niamh Kitching, Lecturer of Sports Management and Coaching at Limerick Institute of Technology opened the eyes of a predominately male audience to the potential that lies in the female golf market. Niamh commented: “With women accounting for more than 51% of the European population and over 50% of the workforce it goes without saying they fuel a major portion of the economy.” She added: “By understanding the needs of the female market and adjusting some small aspects of the club environment significant increases can be gained in female membership and participation at club level.”
Following her presentation Niamh joined the stage with Kyra van Leeuwen (formerLadies European Tour Professional) Scilla Hokholt (Owner Larvik Golf) & Mirjam Ludwig (German Golf Course Owners Association) to further explore what is needed to connect with this key market.
Spanking the Competition
The highly anticipated conference closing presentation from Gregg Patterson entitled “Spanking the Competition – Cultivating your distinguishers” did not fail to deliver. Gregg, fully loaded with material opened his closing presentation by stating “It’s a competitive world out there. Lots of good clubs, lots of good managers, lots of good choices for a golfer’s time and money. And everybody who’s competing for the ‘golfing euro’ is doing most everything pretty well.” He added: “In this ‘sea of sameness’, in this world of good, where competence is ‘ground zero’, owners, clubs and managers need to distinguish themselves if they intend to Spank the Competition.”
The day was concluded with the conference golf tournament hosted at Ribagolfe on the outskirts of Lisbon which was kindly hosted by Lisbon Coast Golf Club.
The European Golf Business Conference is organised by the European Golf Course Owners Association (EGCOA) www.egcoa.eu