The 20th edition of the International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) will be held at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes, in the south of France, from December 11-14, 2017.
Cannes the host city was not selected by accident. The 2018 Ryder Cup will take place at Le Golf National, in France, near Paris.
This time, the organizers (Reed Travel Exhibitions) are expecting to attend more than 1,300 visitors, 600 exhibitors (vs. in 2016: 515), 400 tour operators and 100 specialized golf media.
The Mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard is expecting that the event will attract more tourists from the world’s sporting community, and more specifically British, American and Asian visitors. Just in this region, there are over 30 golf courses (in France we can find more than 600 golf courses).
Why is IGTM important to France?
Would you believe that a country with more than 700 golf courses and as Europe’s 4th largest golf country, like France is not among the top golf destinations? In 2012, France was the 11th most important golf destination to golf tour operators in 2012 (source: Golf Tourism Report, 2013, IAGTO).
Well, it seems like that France has to improve his image and the perception. If you ask anybody among golfers or even non-golfers they will tell you the following about France: great wines and champaign, history, culture, beaches and ski resorts, BUT not golf.
Do they know that they can find great courses near the French Riviera designed by Jack Nicklaus, Dave Thomas, Steve Ballesteros, Robert Trent Jones Sr. etc?
Meanwhile, former French colonies like Morocco (e.g. Assoufid Golf Club) and Tunisia became serious competitors to the French golf resorts and clubs.
France also has to prove to tourist, that it is not a dangerous tourism destination (e.g. terror attacks, immigrants from Africa etc.).
This is a country where the tourism industry accounts for 7.5% of the country’s GDP.
A few years ago (2013??) KPMG found that the country has got only 19 coastal integrated golf resorts. Nevertheless, most of the resorts are hotel focused. Residential real estate developments started only in the 1990s.
Needless, to say that the French golf industry and golf tourism need more national government support to succeed.
Until support arrives, they can do the followings:
- Embrace mobile mindset and social media communication.
- Tear down linguistic barriers by using solutions like Smartling.
- Golf resorts and clubs should strive to understand how the experiences they provide make golf tourists feel.
- Combine technology with customer service (e.g. on-demand services).
- Find the right person to manage your big data who is well-trained, can anticipate, and flexible + capable of helping steward a cohesive experience.
- Focus on the foodie culture. Although many services are getting digitized, but a human touch can make miracles. A great food and drink in a golf resort/club can be a game changer, not just convenience services. However, our dining out habits also changed since we are able to search, sort, discover restaurants via the Internet.
- Don’t forget the “Fifties” and the modern female travelers. They are 2 lucrative golf tourist segments.
- Think and develop more multi-disciplinary programs (festivalization of meetings trend; e.g. IGTM).
- Find big stories about your golf club/resort and region that can impress golf tourists.
These are the trends in 2017 that golf clubs and resorts should consider.