Can Scottish Golf Tourism industry exceed the £325 million target?

By: December 27, 2018

In 2016, the study of VisitScotland and Scottish Enterprise found that the Scottish golf tourism industry worths £286 million.

The Scots are very optimistic now.

A review of Scotland’s National Golf Tourism Strategy has extended the industry’s target for the value of the sector to £325 million following a strong period of growth.

Scottish Golf Tourism Industry

On Course for Growth, is a mid-term review of Scotland’s original National Golf Tourism Strategy, Driving Forward Together, which originally targeted increasing the value of golf tourism from £220 million in 2013 to £300 million by 2020.

The On Course for Growth strategy is supported by a number of key organisations involved in the development & promotion of  Scottish golf tourism industry including:

  1. Scottish Enterprise,
  2. VisitScotland,
  3. Scottish Golf,
  4. the PGA of Scotland,
  5. the Scottish Inbound Golf Tour Operators Association (SIGTOA)
  6. and regional marketing groups including Ayrshire Golf Scotland, Scotland’s Golf Coast, Fife Golf Partnership, Golf Perthshire, Carnoustie Country, Golf Aberdeen City & Shire and Golf Highland.

Allan Minto, Project Manager with Golf Perthshire explains the above-mentioned growth of the Scottish golf tourism industry with the following factors such as:

  • increased accessibility via air routes,
  • exchange rates,
  • international media profile from major events,
  • the continued development of Scotland’s world-class golf tourism product.

I was happy to find that the Scottish golf tourism industry understood the importance of attracting more women and young people.

I can only hope they understand the Millennials‘ needs and expectations.

Another important recognition and understanding is what Ross Duncan, Development Director with Scottish Golf, added:

Visitor revenue has become an increasingly important income stream as clubs diversify away from the reliance on membership recruitment and retention to grow their business.”

He also said that “the updated On Course for Growth Strategy will widen the opportunities for even more clubs to benefit from industry support through a coordinated and collaborative approach, and coupled with other partnership initiatives, will contribute to a bright future for golf clubs across Scotland.”

I was sad to find such issues among the weaknesses of the Scottish golf tourism industry like:

  • Customer service levels are inconsistent.
  • Some clubs still to embrace online tee booking.
  • Some clubs still reluctant to engage with others in the industry.
  • Discrepancies between the quality of the course and the rest of the experience.
  • Insufficient data from golf clubs etc.
Fairmont St Andews Scottish Golf Tourism Industy

Recommendations for the Scottish golf tourism industry

I missed very much from the list of Strengths the customer experience innovations and service personalizations.

Customer experience is more important than ever in today’s environment
because there are so many opportunities for how and where to spend our holidays.

Skift Research’s U.S. Affluent Traveler Trends 2018 found, for instance, that 67% of affluent travelers would rather spend their money on activities than on a nicer hotel, up 8% from last year.’

So we can say that choosing experiences is a trend.

I don’t say do not build on the Scottish heritage & origin of golf, but will not be enough to convince people in the coming years.

I would also dare to say to focus on the right golf tourist and not on every golf tourist.

This requires massive consumer data collection and analysis to be able to come up with highly personalized offers to the right golf tourists.

Gaining a complete, cross-channel view of customer interactions can deliver profound business benefits for a golf club, but also to the country’s golf industry as well, for instance:

  • higher customer satisfaction,
  • brand affinity,
  • increased revenue,
  • more effective customer acquisition,
  • reduced operating costs,
  • attracting the best employees.

Scottish golf clubs should engage with golf travelers outside the classic engagement places.

They should interact with potential golf tourist customers in as many customer journey phase as possible. I go even further.

Golf clubs should embrace the omnipresence and provide a consistent customer experience.

Exceptional mobile experience is a must have!

Today’s customers want to interact with golf clubs, golf travel agencies, etc., through an omnichannel and always-on approach.

I would ponder to launch a loyalty program since it is a good way to retain customers, but to learn about their preferences as well.

This way, Scotland could offer highly personalized golf holiday packages and trips to the right golf travelers.

It will also help to tick off the relevancy factor as well.

Another interesting way to build a meaningful relationship with the right golf tourist is using dynamic offers and messaging to customize the experience depending on their stage in the process.

Let’s focus from now on exceptional mobile experiences as most of the customer journeys begin on our customers’ mobiles.

Google & PhocusWright joint research found researching destinations, hotels, and airfares on a mobile device is now as normal to users as online shopping.

Mobile bookings are 56.7% vs 43.3% desktop bookings. This gives us an opportunity to come up with last minute offers.

I go even further, Scottish golf clubs should learn more about how to utilize messaging apps, chatbots and even artificial intelligence (e.g. Pebble Beach’s virtual concierge service).

Scottish golf clubs, VisitScotland and Scottish Golf should think about what additional services their golf tourists may need for their trip.

They should seize every opportunity to gain more and deeper customer data to improve campaign efficiency and exceed the above-mentioned
£325 million revenue target.