How Gleneagles wins out the customer-led market?

By: November 2, 2017

The Scottish Golf Tourism Awards 2017 was a great moment for The Gleneagles Hotel. Unlike in 2016 (won only in one category: The Best Catering), this time they won in 3 categories with 33,000 votes from golf consumers across Scotland:

  1. Best Golf Experience’,
  2. Best Pro Shop’ and
  3. Best Large Hotel’.

In this triple victory what is interesting is how The Gleneagles Hotel is trying to win in a customer-led, outside-in digital-centric market. Probably the biggest challenge is how to get closer to the customers by mastering technology and analytics and provide contextually rich experiences.

Although it was nice to hear from Gary Silcock, Director of Golf that they “continue to invest in both our people and our three 18-hole championship golf courses” and “have invested heavily in our team“, I would be interested in how they transform their company structure as well to a customer-driven matrix to leverage shared functions.

They also realized that if their employees (cca. 700 people) do not understand the importance of customer experience, brand values they will not be able to succeed. Today’s customers (not just the Millennials) can punish companies based on a single experience — a single moment in time.

A significant share of the customers has a high willingness and ability to shift spend according to Forrester Research.

How could The Gleneagles Hotel strengthen the trust of customers?

I believe that trust is the new business currency in the age of authenticity. Thanks to technology companies like Google, Facebook, customers are demanding transparency and becoming very cynical.

Cohn&Wolfe’s TOP 100 authentic brand study found in 2016:

  • 78% of consumers don’t think brands are authentic,
  • 25% of the customers think brands/companies can be trusted!!
  • 88% of global customers will reward a brand for its authenticity (in the UK: 76%)
  • Only 7 hotel brands were in this list:
    • #53 – Hilton
    • #67 – Marriott
    • #75 – Hyatt
    • #90 – The Ritz-Carlton

Gleneagles winning team at Scottish Golf Tourism Awards 2017

What can The Gleneagles Hotel do to save their customers’ trust?

The Gleneagles Hotel should continue to invest in high-quality service (I miss the companion mobile solutions at Gleneagles, e.g. mobile check-in and out, mobile ordering etc.) and to deliver promises. As we saw in the latest American presidential elections or in the case of Facebook, privacy and personal data protection concerns are growing.

The 3rd most important aspect is honest communication and transparency. In another word, be real! This also means that golf resorts and clubs should give up brand messages and change to real conversations in real-time.

Yes, they should join conversations in social media and help guests and prospects to understand what is their offer and answer their questions. There are several social media management solutions that can help you to handle this task (e.g. Lithium).

The Gleneagles Hotel, but also other golf resorts and clubs must invest from now on in influencer marketing program development.

To be able to achieve sustainable, high-quality revenue growth you have to earn the trust of customers. The power of influencer marketing is coming from the network connections of the influencer (in my case is, it is 10,000+ people), the long-term collaboration (=always-on engagement), and quality content.

One of the biggest benefits of working with influencers that they will share your story in a very authentic way. It will be also our task is to know our influencer partners: what inspires them to engage with the brand (e.g. people behind the brand). For the same reason, review sites like are also essentials for building trust.

You have to invest time and valuable resources to build credibility and trust with influencers (e.g. golf travel blogger, golf travel instagramers etc.). There is NO SHORTCUT for getting there!!!!

I believe both golf travelers and regular golfers want to get is not brand messages like I mentioned above, but insights and recommendations from people like them. Our task is to explore creative approaches to earn attention and build relationships.

I receive frequently the question of how to measure the performance of an influencer marketing initiative. In general, the classic KPIs are reach and engagement.

However, I would also recommend to look at the full customer journey and examine how customers are moving through the entire path. The most popular influencer marketing pricing models are the cost per engagement and cost-per-click.