The surprising growth of Portuguese & Spanish golf tourism

By: March 6, 2019

My Portuguese friend, Carlos Ferreira (owner of Tee Times Golf Agency) wrote me a few weeks ago about an almost 30% growth in the number of played rounds among his clients between the periods of November 2017 – February 2018 vs November 2018 – February 2019.

We were curious about what led to this impressive growth. Here are my explanations and recommendations.

Portuguese & Spanish golf tourism

I think the Portuguese Tourism Board is doing a great job to promote the country as a great golf destination.

Do you remember their Portuguese Greens and the Can’t Skip Portugal image campaigns?

Most recently, Vale do Lobo (in the Algarve) was voted as the “Best golf resort of Portugal” at Today’s Golfers Travel Awards

As I have read Today’s Golfer Magazine’s TOP 100 Golf Resorts in Continental Europe 2018/19, I can see 18 Portuguese & 25 Spanish golf clubs and resorts.

In the TOP 10, I found:

The inbound tourism in Portugal in 2018 grew by 6.8%. At the very same time, Spain attracted almost 90 million tourists in 2018. This is a 3,7% growth.

I believe changes in the exchange rate of GBP/EUR were also in favor of the inbound golf tourism for both Portugal and Spain.

We might think Portugal and Spain is always sunny, but sometimes the weather can surprise us.

However, I have not found any evidence of significant differences between the two investigated periods.

The above-mentioned growth can be also a result of your more precise targeting and golf holiday package development.

Golf tourism and artificial intelligence

Personalization is the name of the game in 2019

Personalization is the name of the game in 2019 when it comes to the golf travel customer experience.

Customers prefer personalization as a time-saving tool, but also because they enjoy the convenience, effortless services.

I am a great supporter of data-driven marketing.

In my previous post, I have already highlighted the importance of relevance to be able to attract, but also to retain as many customers as possible.

By utilizing web analytics, CRM data, we will be able to personalize our offers and services.

The smart use of Big Data will help golf travel agencies, but golf resorts as well to tailor their offers as per personal preferences and past behavior of their customers and guests.

This can be achieved if companies like Tee Times Golf Agency invest in web and business analytics and create an analytics expert position(s).

At this Portuguese golf travel agency, I know for sure that they have got a business analyst.

Technology golf tourism

Artificial Intelligence & golf tourism

When we are talking about personalization, I cannot neglect to mention the use of artificial intelligence (AI), especially chatbots and machine learning.

Today, customers expect real-time service – chatbots can make this possible.

Gartner predicts that by 2020, chatbots will power 85% of all customer service interactions.

Companies like KLM,, Skyscanner, and are already using chatbots.

KLM by using Facebook Messenger since January 2017 achieved:

  • 40% increase in customer interactions with Messenger;
  • 15% of online boarding passes are sent via Messenger;
  • 5-point higher average Net Promoter Score (NPS) on Messenger than the goal.

I go even further; the use of machine learning could help golf travel agencies to track consumer behavior.

It could help a golf travel agency website to provide personalized recommendations based on past purchases and respond quickly to requests.

So, we can say that by using artificial intelligence we can improve the digital user experience on our websites.

Finally, I would not reject the idea to get prepared to last minute booking.

For the search phrase:

  • “tomorrow golf Algarve” in Google I found 260,000 search results;
  • “tomorrow golf Costa Brava” in Google I found 353,000 search results.

This article was brought to you by Tee Times Golf Agency.