During the CV19 pandemic, we sat down (virtually) with some of the Spanish golf industry representatives and asked them a few questions about the state of the Spanish golf market, how they dealt with the situation, and the challenges of the golf industry in Spain faces going forward.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, first of all, we trust you and your loved ones have and continue to be safe during the CV19 situation. We realize these have been testing times for the golf industry in Spain, so can you tell us a bit more about the situation now?
Ricardo Pascual, CEO GolfSpain – Thank you for your kind words and yes, we have remained safe until now. I live in Madrid and the conditions have been very tough.
As a business, we had to make all our employees temporarily unemployed and close the office which was a very difficult decision after more than 20 years in business.
All our clients, the golf courses, were obviously closed but are now opening in stages following the guidelines laid down by the central government.
At this moment it is very much members and locals-only and as we have no inbound tourism allowed yet, the next couple of months will remain hard for golf courses.
So, during the lockdown, what sort of actions have you taken to benefit the golf courses and what needs to be done for the rest of the year.
Ricardo Pascual – We have continued with a skeleton staff and have had to develop some additional features in our software so that courses can open according to the rules set out by the authorities. Online check-in being one of the main new features.
Antonio Lantero, General Manager Los Arqueros Golf – It has been a difficult time for golf clubs on the Costa del Sol. We remained quite sheltered here as the infection rates in our region remained relatively low compared to other areas of Spain.
The authorities here have also been working hard with representatives of golf courses and also IAGTO recognizing the economic importance of golf for the region and to set out a phased return for golf.
At Los Arqueros and like most courses, we kept our greenkeeping efforts to the allowed minimum but we managed to keep the course in pristine condition. I guess these are ideal conditions for greenkeepers … favorable weather conditions and no golfers getting in the way.
Now that courses are opening, what are the challenges and how do you think Zest can support the industry?
Ricardo Pascual, GolfSpain – Spanish golf courses are used to receiving online bookings via their website.
Obviously many of their tour operators were still booking via traditional means which made the management of the situation with cancellations and rebooking more difficult.
The staff at the courses were all sent home, the managers were still working and they all worked diligently to accommodate the TO’s as quick as possible.
The channels that had online connectivity via their iMaster system were able to manage these bookings themselves which gave them an immediate advantage over others.
What we see now is that golf courses are actively looking at those solutions for a number of reasons. Staff levels and responsibilities will change so efficiency will be key.
The fact is, ‘online’ will become the norm so I see a big opportunity for a system like Zest.Golf enabling golf clubs to manage their tee times and channels much more efficiently.
Kilian Archelaguet, TorreMirona Golf Club – The challenge for golf clubs in Spain is now that we are open, but we don’t have any golfers allowed to travel yet.
We now rely on local players to generate some minimum income but it does present other challenges. Keeping a course maintained when there is no play versus when we have, even if it is only a few players, requires more manpower and increases cost.
On the bright side, the sun is shining, we are open, and golfers are playing again. Concerning Zest.Golf, we signed up just before the Covid-19 hit us and we haven’t had a chance to fully see it in operation but the principle is what we need.
To be able to connect to as many sales channels as possible in an easy way is the future for bookings in a golf tourism destination like ours.
Antonio Lantero, General Manager Los Arqueros – Traditionally only the operators with larger volumes were given direct access to our tee sheet.
After corresponding with all of the tour operators, we see that there is a requirement to roll that out further and having the Zest.Golf platform will be invaluable for our course going forward.
What are the next steps for golf in Spain?
Consensus by all – Modernising the way we do business with sales channels has become a priority. We take it all for granted when the first tee is full of players but when there are challenging circumstances, efficiency is key.
We all know that golfers book everything online, flights, hotels, rental cars, clubs, and also tee times.
Allowing tour operators and others to manage these tee times online creates efficiency and helps them to better serve their customers as well.
Zest.Golf – Thank you all for your time and your insight in the Spanish situation and now courses are opening, our work continues as we connect courses to our system and ensure that bookings flow as efficiently as possible between Spanish courses and the sales channels.