Bernie Reumann worked in the aerospace industry, but he didn't much like it. But, pursuing his love of golf, he also set up a few trips for colleagues who were golfers. He liked the planning.
"Then," he said, "a light came on, and it said, 'Try this as a regular job.' "
That was 1977. Reumann founded Golf Getaways in Bend, Ore., and he initially meant it to be a business 100% focused on the game. Golf is still a significant 40% of sales, but in 1982 Reumann created a division, Getaways Travel, after determining he wanted the golfers' other travel business, too.
Today he is president and owner of a $6 million business with five employees and two locations; only the Getaways Travel division has a branch. Business is 70% leisure and 30% corporate. It is a Signature Travel Network agency.
Golf sales range from FITs to escorted group trips to North and South America, Asia and Europe, destinations that "are a good buy and offer nice golf" and perhaps have attracted golfers' attention because of tournaments or other televised events, Reumann said.
This year, he is leading two trips to Argentina, and the agency plans two Argentina trips for 2009 because "Argentina is a terrific buy." It doesn't hurt that Reumann knows his way around there: He was born in Germany and raised in Argentina.
On the other hand, he said, "Europe is so expensive now." He is looking at Turkey and the former eastern Europe, "where there is no euro," for next year.
Golf Getaways operates about eight escorted golf tours a year, and Reumann "picks and chooses" the two or three he will lead. But he "never, never" takes groups anywhere he has not visited. He learned his lesson, he said, when he planned his first international golf trip, to Spain.
He had made his choices for ground services before making the inspection trip, then "changed things all around" once he saw he had made some wrong choices. Now, he does not select new suppliers before an inspection.
"It is dangerous to tell people to [spend] $10,000. The first question is, 'Have you seen it?' and you can't fake the description of a hotel." Also, he said, even the top hotel brands must be viewed: "Even the Grand Hyatts aren't all alike."
Occasionally, his inspection trips are small, planned group tours for a short list of about three friends. The foursome has fun, "they save money, and their wives get them out of town for a while," Reumann said. Other staffers lead some golf tours, and Reumann has friends "who live to lead these groups."
Back when he was getting started, Reu-mann worked with a golf club for access to prospects. He also advertised in consumer golf magazines, but they have become too expensive, he said.
Today, he uses newsletters and e-mail announcements, attends golf shows and promotes on the Internet. The agency's valuable database includes golfers from across the U.S. and some foreign countries.
A great deal of new business these days comes through referrals, Reumann said.
The agency's Web site is not designed to take bookings. "We don't want to do that," he said. "Nothing is black and white with regard to our products. Everything can be customized, and it usually is."
Reumann said his biggest challenge was convincing golfers that the agency could save them time and money. The agency has contracts with U.S. and overseas resorts that produce reduced rates on lodging and/or golf, he said.
In any case, once the clients buy, they often come back; about 50% of golfers are repeaters, he said, adding that some have repeated many times.
He pointed to a client in Denver who was one of the agency's first clients, a man who books FITs every year.
To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to Nadine Godwin at [email protected].
Golfing in Bali
The following is a portion of a two-week golf tour to Singapore, Bali and Bintan Island prepared by Golf Getaways in Bend, Ore.
Day 1: Arrival at Bali's airport; transfer to the Ritz-Carlton Bali, located at Jimbaran Bay, where you will spend the next seven nights in Club Rooms.
Day 2: A round of golf at the Bali Golf and Country Club nearby. Nongolfers will go to the New Bali Collection, a shopping arcade, followed by a visit to the Jenggala Ceramic Showroom located in Jimbaran. Lunch for golfers and nongolfers is at the Jenggala Ceramic Cafe.
Day 3: The group will take an art and culture tour to Ubud and surroundings. En route, visit a traditional Balinese home in Singapadu, for insight into daily family life. Visit the Pura Batuan temple en route to the workshop of a renowned master carver of fine quality woodcarvings in Kemenuh. Lunch at the Adi Asri Restaurant for good local food. Visit Threads of Life, a very small but fascinating museum displaying textiles collected from some of the eastern islands of Indonesia, famous for their variety in fabrics and unique styles.
Day 4: Depart at 6 a.m. for a round of golf at Bali Handara Kosaido Golf Club, which is situated in an extinct volcano crater. Nongolfers will participate in a Balinese cooking class at Casa Luna. Participants are encouraged to help prepare the lavish Balinese feast to be enjoyed by the group. Golfers will join the nongolfers at Casa Luna for lunch.
Day 5: Day at leisure to enjoy the amenities of the Ritz-Carlton and its spa. Dinner at Rumah Bali, which is owned by cookbook author Heinz von Holzen and his Balinese wife, Puji. This restaurant specializes in true Balinese cuisine and is set up as a replica of a Balinese village house.
Day 6: Play at the New Kuta Golf Club designed by Ronald Freeman. Nongolfers visit Atlas South Sea Pearl, a showroom of Indonesian sea pearl jewelry; the showroom of an Indonesian silk and batik factory; and a silversmith's workshop. Golfers and nongolfers meet at the Garuda Wisnu Kencana park, hewn out of limestone cliffs, for lunch. After lunch, explore the park.
Day 7: Final round of golf at the Nirwana Bali Golf Club, designed by golfer Greg Norman. The course includes some great holes along the ocean that will test your nerves. Nongolfers will take back roads to the peaceful Mengwi Royal Temple. Then visit Pejaten, a village-owned pottery project in an area known for terra-cotta cooking pots and roofing tiles. Join golfers at Nirwana Bali to visit the Tanah Lot Temple, one of the oldest temples in Bali. A farewell dinner is planned at the Ritz-Carlton.