We can agree that Slovenia will not be your first thought when you are thinking about your next golf holiday. Even if IAGTO has named Slovenia as the Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year 2015.
Slovenia is one of the very few Eastern European countries where participation rate is growing (in 2015, it was 0.3%). Today, there are 5891 registered golfers in the country. Slovenia is also one of the three European countries with the highest participation rate of women (35%).
This is why I am not totally surprised that Golf Course Bled (an IMG-affiliated property) has recently undergone a full renovation. The King’s Course at Golf Course Bled is Slovenia’s oldest and most prestigious golf course in the region. The renovation will be completed in Spring 2017.
As part of the renovation, Golf Course Bled is also investing in a brand new, state-of-art golf academy. The objective of the investment is to grow golf in the region and attract golf tourists.
The new academy features 2 swing instruction studios, 8 covered practice bays, a dedicated short game area, and an 18 hole practice putting green that offers both flat and sloping putting surfaces, ideal for those looking to practice reading greens and distance control.
Aljoša Berc, Golf Manager, Golf Course Bled said: “The demand for this type of facility is stronger than ever in a region that continues to see new golfers coming into the game. The new innovations and facilities allow the team to offer a wide range of tuition services along with offering creative group packages aimed at encouraging, even more, people to get into this great game.”
He also added: “We are aiming for Bled Golf Academy to become a center of excellence, one that will attract inbound tourists and, as such, we are keen to work with tour operators and PGA Pro led groups on tuition based packages whilst also creating new packages to support the local market.”
How could Golf Course Bled become more competitive?
Although golf course conditioning and design and golf academy are critical parts of the overall golf experience, but Golf Course Bled (and other golf clubs as well!) should not ignore that we are dealing with ‘connected customers’ who are collecting information about golf holiday destinations and golf courses in general mainly via social media (source of inspiration) and their mobiles (seeking additional information, comparing prices etc).
Furthermore, more and more people think that the smartphone is their lifeline. What I am trying to say that mobiles are changing the way we conduct business. This is why I highlighted previously regarding Hotel Camiral (at PGA Catalunya) the importance of ‘companion mobile application’ usage (e.g. Hilton’s Digital Keys) that can provide frictionless customer experience.
Google says that the consumers expect immediate, relevant and frictionless experience when they turn to their smartphone to find, do, or buy something.
It also means that they are reshaping the possible customer journeys of golfers. This is why it is not smart not to have a mobile-friendly website or a mobile application. Last week, TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer said that he sees mobile apps as the future.
Active social media presence is another area that golf clubs like Golf Course Bled cannot afford to ignore if they want to generate awareness and interest to their golf club. They should pay more attention to their existing social media channels on Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest (why not Instagram instead of Pinterest?), Facebook (relatively well managed, but should be improved as soon as possible), and TripAdvisor.
These social media channels should be highlighted on their website, thus people will know how they can get in touch with Golf Course Bled, besides the website.
Social media is also the source of information about our potential customers’ desires, needs, pain points (also in emotional terms) and expectations.
Last, but not least, they should not be shy when it comes to selling tee-time online. First of all, it should be visible and easy to find. Instead, using old-school online form, online payment solution should be implemented (e.g. Stripe).