The inaugural Golf Tourism England Convention was recently hosted by Formby Hall, Hillside Golf Club and Formby Golf Club. The event brought together tour operators from around the world with English suppliers, across two days, featuring presentations, relationship building opportunities and a chance to experience golf at two of the best courses England has to offer.
Monday morning began at Hillside Golf Club as the delegates arrived from Scandinavia, Devon, Kent, Southport and even as far away as South Carolina, to name a few. After a brief welcome from Andrew Cooke, Golf Tourism England, the first speaker was Simon Newland from Royal Liverpool Golf Club. Simon spoke passionately about England’s Golf Coast, extolling the virtues of the region, not just in terms of the famous Open venues which draw visitors, but of the countless other high-quality golf courses the areas is blessed with and equally superb variety of accommodation.
Simon was followed by Richard Payne, SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS, who took everyone through the latest statistics on the Golf Tourism Market in Europe. This proved a very interactive session as the delegates sought more information on certain aspects, creating a good deal of discussion on the findings of the data.
After a short break the final presentation of the day saw Christian Maiden, Sports Publications, promote the importance of Content Marketing, specifically focusing on the use of videos to drive increased engagement and interaction online.
Delegates then enjoyed a quick lunch before testing their golfing abilities on the challenging links at Hillside Golf Club, including a back nine described by Greg Norman as “The best in Britain”.
This afternoon activity not only helped the operators gain a great appreciation of the product but also proved an ideal opportunity for some fun with a team matchplay competition (in the spirit of the Ryder Cup) between operators and suppliers. Scoring and updates supplied by Golf Genius through a simple to use app.
Formby Hall provided the location for the evening drinks reception and dinner, sponsored by the South Carolina Office of Tourism. Delegates had earlier heard how food quality had been known to put people off England as a destination, but nothing could have been further from the truth with the exquisite fare provided, a point hammered home by Shannon Odom, South Carolina Office of Tourism, as he thanked the group for attending and stated how important is was for these events to take place to help build relationships and grow golf tourism in England.
Day two saw all attendees head to Formby Golf Club for a morning of ‘speed dating’. Each supplier had a set area upstairs at the picturesque Formby clubhouse, with operators moving around the room at 10-15-minute intervals to discuss specifics on how to maximise the working relationship for mutual benefit.
Lunch at Formby was then followed by more golf on what is accurately described a ‘one of the world’s finest Championship links golf courses’. The tour operators were in undivided agreement that the quality of the course was outstanding and ability to experience the product first hand would only benefit them in their ability to promote England as a golf destination to their clients.
The convention concluded with an evening dinner at Formby Golf Club, where once again the quality of the food was second to none. The business elements of the convention were perfectly complemented by the more social aspects and this combination allowed the delegates to mix seamlessly, feel at ease and get the maximum benefit from building deeper relationships with each other.
Andrew Cooke of Golf Tourism England said, “This has been a superb example of what can be achieved when you put like-minded people together in an environment which promotes free flowing conversation and the desire to all work towards a common goal. I’m delighted at the attendance levels for this first event and the feedback from everyone has been overwhelmingly positive. Formby Hall, Hillside and Formby Golf Club have been the perfect hosts and I can’t thank them and the South Carolina Office of Tourism enough for their backing of the event”
These views were echoed by the delegates.
“The event was run very professionally and the area of the North West of the country showcased some absolutely superb first-class golf” – Peter Salmon, Vita Golf
“It was great to put a face to a number of people who I have had email contact with in the past. Great courses played and excellent hospitality. All worked very well” – Rob Matthews, Quality Golf Destinations
“Peter and I got a lot from it – feedback, suggestions, ideas going forward – and it was really worth attending.” – Julie Slater, Alwoodley Golf Club
“Well run and a great selection of venues and agents to speak to . We both found it to be thoroughly useful and we are confident that we will generate some good new business from it.” – Henry Allis, Old Thorns
“It was very well organised and we truly enjoined the warm hospitality shown to us by everyone involved. We made a lot of new contacts and hope we can develop business together.” – Ludovic Hoytema van Konijnenburg, The Golf Traveller
“I thought it was an excellent event and I have just been sending follow up emails to all the tour operators that I met on behalf of the Cheshire Classics Tour.” – David Holmes, Prestbury Golf Club
Following the success of the event, GTE intend to host more Conventions around the country and look forward to working with the many superb venues the country has to offer.
P.S. For those of you who are curious – after a 4.5 – 4.5 position after day one, the suppliers ran away with things on day two, triumphing 11.5 – 5.5.
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