What should Danang improve to become Vietnam’s Algarve?

By: March 9, 2017

The 6th annual IAGTO Asia Golf Tourism Convention (AGTC), will take place in Danang, Vietnam, from 7-13 May this year, will be Asia’s largest-ever golf tourism event. The event will be held at the Furama Resort Danang and Convention Centre.

More than 240 golf tour operators from 36 countries have registered to attend AGTC so far:

  • 63% of the attending tour operators are from within Asia including 37 from Korea, 33 from China, 14 from Singapore and 8 from both Japan and Hong Kong.
  • 52 of the buyer delegates are from Europe (22%);
  • 22 from Australia & New Zealand
  • and 6 from the USA.

The local Vietnamese golf resorts will also participate in the 6th annual IAGTO Asia Golf Tourism Convention. 36 delegates have registered from Vietnam, including:

  • Montgomerie Links Danang Golf Club,
  • Ba Na Hills Golf Club (Luke Donald design): in 2015 it was awarded the title of Best New Golf Course in Asia and the Pacific and the first runner up of Best Golf Course in Vietnam at the 2016 Asian Golf Awards
  • BRG Danang Golf Resort (by Greg Norman),
  • Laguna Golf Lang Co (by Sir Nick Faldo),
  • The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip,
  • Sky Lake Resort & Golf Club
  • and the FLC Group.

Vietnam AGTC-press-conference800

The organizer Danang Department of Tourism expects that Danang will be recognized as the heart of golf tourism in Vietnam and that this will be a launchpad for Danang to become one of Asia’s most popular golf destinations. Danang attracted more than 4.6 million tourists, while Vietnam was visited by 7 million tourists in 2015. Approximately 1% of these tourists were golf tourists (cca. 70 000).

Danang Department of Tourism also expects growth as a direct result of the AGTC Convention to add US$20 million per year onto tourism receipts and for this annual increase on existing visitor revenue to double once new golf courses are open.

What is missing from Danang to become Vietnam’s Algarve?

In the last couple of years, I see how the Vietnamese golf clubs and resorts are becoming serious competitors for the Thai and Malaysian rivals. Although the Vietnamese golf courses are might not be at the level of Thai and Malaysian golf courses and resorts, but definitely challenging these two countries’ golf resorts.

I believe that customer service is the lifeblood of hospitality and golf clubs/resorts. Therefore, the first step toward customer service excellence is to know their guests’ needs and interests. This requires effective data management: collecting, maintaining, extracting and analyzing data using tools like CRM database, PMS, Google Analytics, etc.

Such knowledge can help golf resorts and clubs to come up with personalized offers and services. Personalized offers and services can be a differentiating factor and help to win golf travelers’ loyalty.

The Vietnamese golf resorts should also understand the importance of prosumers (producer+consumer) and influencer marketing.  Since most of us are checking review sites (e.g. Tripadvisor, Leadingcourses.com), social communities and blogs when we are planning our golf holiday, it is wise to be in good relationship with key influencers and listen carefully to these people and communities (=online reputation management).

It might be hard to believe, but prosumers have got really big influence on golf travelers’ purchase decision. One of the reasons why Hong Kong is still a popular destination is they have been smartly attending to prosumer analyses.

Other useful solutions that can help them to outperform their rivals are:

  • Provide services and offers for Baby Boomers.
  • Utilize messenger marketing (e.g. Facebook chat bots, Viber, WhatsApp etc.) for customer service, sales.
  • Golf resort hotels should provide companion mobile solutions (check out Hilton’s Digital Keys or Marriott’s Flesh Perks) for guests. Thus the guests can minimize their personal connection with the staff of the hotel and golf club.
  • Provide strenuous adventure travel programs and alternative fitness routines in addition to golf.
  • People are more open to experience driven engagement (e.g. hands-on workshops, artisan-led workshops and experiences)
  • Give priority to natural ingredients.