Why women are important in golf tourism?

By: April 15, 2013

In 2009 I started to realize when I talked with my business partners from various industries that there is a dramatic shift toward women as primary influencer in many business situations (tourism, health, car etc.).

It isn't a surprise if we know that women are contributing 44% of family income in dual-earning couples in the US. They are also gaining senior leadership positions as well (e.g. Ginni Rometty – President and CEO of IBM, Marissa Meyer – CEO of Yahoo etc.). American women now represent 5 Trillion USD of economic spending. They are an incredible source of business.

This was recognized by Citi when they launched in April 2012, on LinkedIn a dedicated group for women, the Connect: Professional Women's Network. In many instances women as source of revenue is neglected or untapped, like in the golf industry.

Although the golf business has been dominated by male participation, we should not neglect ( Download Connecting-with-Her) female golfers. They are representing 19.3% of all golfers. Just in the US there is a potential 38 million women who are open to golf. HSBC in his latest report ( Download The_Future_of_Golf by HSBC 2012) talked about the phenomenon that golf is becoming more unisex as women come into the game. In the Netherlands, golf is the fastest growing sport among women. Golf is the 3rd most popular sport among women and girls in the Netherlands. 

The European average is 24.6 percent and in three countries, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, more than one in three golfers are female (in GB&I it is only 14.5%). Only in Germany (Germany only has 719 golf courses), female golfers' share is 35% (=660,000).

Golf course owners and golf equipment manufacturers should start as soon as possible to think how to exploit this golden opportunity. For instance think about how female golfers can feel comfortable and welcomed in your pro shop (change the share of products for women, find women-only products etc.) or how they could socialize better in the clubhouse etc.

How this shift is effecting golf tourism?

In 2012 the global golf tourism industry grew by 9.3% (vs. 2011) according to IAGTO. In 2012 golf tourism sales exceeded 1.5 billion USD. 38% of golf tour operators are still focusing only on golf holidays and 62% deal with business trips among the others (e.g. wedding, general leisure). Women now make up close to 50% of business travellers. I can already feel and see the business opportunities. Let's stop here for a moment! Do we know how they make decisions or what kind of approach, treatment they prefer?

Golf women

Here are some challenges for hotels and tour operators when they have a female business traveller who is golfer at the same time:

  • How do you make them respected?
  • How do you make them feel welcomed?
  • How they can feel comfortable in the offered hotel and program?
  • Can you provide them a "place to escape" (e.g. after a busy conference day or business meeting)?
  • How you can provide priceless social experience that enable them to develop personal relationships?

As we are talking about business trips it is worth to think also about time-saving solution. They will come probably to an unknown hotel and town it is wise to invite female golfers (personal invitation matters!!!) to the local golf course that fits them the most (probably we can guess from the room price how much they can afford).

Finally, here is a list of "female friendly" hotels: https://www.maiden-voyage.com/Hotels.aspx.