The 7th European Golf Business Conference hosted by the EGCOA last week at the famous Hotel Majestic Barriere in Cannes has been hailed as a huge success and is regarded by many who attended as the best conference to date, writes John King.
With over the 540 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 was opened by the 4th European Multi Course Owners meeting. The meeting played host to over 30 representatives of the world’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 Marcel Welling who gave delegates and insight into the latest developments in the European golf industry. The tone was set for day two by the master of buzz delivery Gregg Patterson General Manager of The Beach Club Santa Monica.
Gregg’s undeniable enthusiasm for club management was apparent from the start. His energetic and uplifting presentation looked at creating loyal club members by delivering an unforgettable club experience. Gregg highlighted simple cost effective ways to both attract and retain members not only turning them into loyal members but club fanatics!
The buzz continued with David Colclough, Head of Member Education for the PGA, opening a session dedicated to identifying the role of the PGA professional in the golf facility and how they can add more value to the club. This message was reinforced by Crown Golf’s CEO Stephen Lewis who followed with a course owner’s view on how commercial management and PGA Professionals can work together to create greater financial success.
The session was closed by managing director of the Lee Westwood Golf School Karl Morris. Karl tied the session together identifying how partnerships both on a staff and corporate level can add to both the profitability and successful branding of your business.
Karl was followed by the guru of pace of play Bill Yates. Bill explained: “When you manage the pace of play you manage the quality of golf.” Bill clearly laid out the simple steps that can be taken to manage slow play and how the successful management of this can retain customers and increase revenue.
After two action packed opening sessions the pace continued with Mike Leemhuis CEO of Congressional Country Club. Mike, a club management enthusiast and internationally renowned speaker, engaged conference delegates in an interactive presentation which identified modern trends which directly influence the golf industry. Mike highlighted that integration of modern trends in the club’s strategic planning process is the key in keeping a competitive edge in today’s market.
A further insight into the US Market trends was presented by deputy CEO of the NGCOA, Mike Tinkey. As well as providing an in-depth insight in to the US Golf Market, Mike shared the various initiatives the NGCOA is putting in place to aid the growth and development of the game.
Education played a key role in the closing session of day two. Ian Butcher, Director of Winston University bridged the gap between the industry and the institution, also highlighting the integration of modern day trends into the education of golf industry professionals. Jerry Kilby CEO of the Club Managers Association of Europe closed the day presenting CMAE’S management development programme which will be rolled out across Europe in 2013 & 2014.
The day concluded at Golf de le Grande Bastide for the conference gala dinner. The setting was spectacular and the spread of French culinary delights impressive. The night was closed with an impressive show of fireworks.
Social Media and the digital revolution was the top of the agenda on Friday morning. Tom Mulder owner and founder of Agenda Online B.V opened this session with an enlightening view into the advances in online lesson booking software as well as the ability to integrate the various aspects of your club’s management software on one platform.
Roderick Cremers, CEO of new marketing agency FreshBridge and an expert in the management of social media campaigns, untangled the web of social media confusion clearly identifying which platforms are the most effective for the promotion and connectivity of golf courses.
The French Golf Industry was represented in force with the session being opened by Jean Lou Charon, a member of the 2018 Ryder Cup Committee. Jean shared the unique Ryder Cup development plan that will see 100 short courses developed in France before 2018 in an effort to increase the participation levels across the country making golf affordable and accessible to all.
The French big hitters were next on stage to discuss the unique structure of the French golf market in which over 80% of commercial courses are members of some form of network, group or chain. The panel was represent byFrancestop 3 multi course owning organisations NGF Golf, Blue Green and Open Golf Club. The panel discussed the various ways in which they have adapted their marketing activities and membership structures to modern needs of the golfer.
Jonathan Smith CEO of the Golf Environment Organisation layed down the bottom line benefits of sustainable golf highlighting the power of a sustainable approach in reducing costs, refining the overall golf experience and running an more efficient golf facility. Jonathan’s message, which is now at the forefront of the golfing industry, was further shared by Philip Russell of the R&A who discussed what the term “sustainability” really means for the golf business.
Philip unveiled the R&A plans for their online ‘Course Tracker’ which will allow golf course owners and managers the ability to gauge the impact of their sustainable contributions and actions and is due for launch early in 2013.
The highly anticipated conference closing presentation from Gregg Patterson entitled “Vision without action is a day dream” did not fail to deliver. Gregg, fully loaded with material opened his final presentation by stating, “It’s all well and good to talk – but doing is what leaders get paid to do.” Gregg’s inspiring closing session encouraged the audience to reflect on what they had learned over the three day event and to return to their clubs willing and ready to implement & facilitate change.
The day concluded with the Conference Golf Tournament held at Golf de la Grande Bastide on the outskirts of Cannes which was kindly hosted by Open Golf Club.
European Golf Business Conference http://conference.egcoa.eu/