Scott Head, a Class A member of the Professional Golfers of
America (PGA) discusses trends in selling golf vacations with Russ
Pate, a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and a
co-founder and past president of the Texas Golf Writers
TW: How will selling golf vacations change in
the new millennium?
Head: The internet has changed many of the ways
we conduct commerce. It has become an integral part in travel and
is rapidly becoming a vehicle for booking tee time reservations.
Presently, it can be cumbersome and difficult to secure a tee time
reservation immediately on behalf of your client unless there is
someone on the other end of the phone at the facility you are
calling. Eventually, the consumer as well as the travel agent will
be able to get a real time reservation for golf, conduct research
on courses in a specific area, create a profile for a player based
on budget or other preferences and find courses in an area which
fit that profile.
TW: How can travel agents prepare themselves
for this change?
Head: This technology is already available, but
not on a large scale yet. I think an alliance between travel
suppliers and the internet/software companies needs to develop. The
golf courses will come on board once the concept is more readily
TW: Can you cite any demographic changes in
Head: As a general trend, we are seeing more
women and junior golfers entering the game as first-time players.
Even as a high-end resort property we are seeing this
TW: How far in advance should golf vacations be
booked to ensure optimal tee times?
Head: The sooner the better, especially if one
plans to travel during a peak season. We accept tee times 30 days
in advance at Princeville, however, our data suggests that most of
our reservations are taken within a week of the day of play. Most
people wait to make tee times. Therefore one will have an advantage
if they call early.
TW: What are the basics agents need to know
about golf to serve their clients?
Head: In order to provide a minimal level of
service it is imperative for an agent to understand golf
terminology, have at least a working knowledge of how the game is
played and how golf courses operate and manage tee time
reservations. Golf lingo can be a foreign language. Without this
knowledge they are certain to fail.
TW: What general advice would you offer travel
agents just beginning to focus on golf travel?
Head: If they are focusing on a region or
destination, they should develop a database of golf courses open to
the public in that area, including rack rates, discount times,
advance reservation policies, lodging, etc. They should find out
about greens aerification, fairway overseeding or any other type of
major golf course maintenance which may affect the playability of
the course. There is nothing worse than to show up at a
registration desk for a round of golf only to find out the greens
have just been aerified. That is a good way to lose a client
TW: Are there any areas of confusion or
misunderstanding about booking golf vacations that typically need
to be resolved?
Head: It has been my experience that most
agents who are in the business of selling golf are very educated.
Most do their homework. They must in order to succeed. The agents
that stay away from selling golf probably do so because they don't
understand the game, or perhaps feel it is not worth their time and
effort. When you consider that there are over 27 million golfers in
the country, many of whom will travel domestically and
internationally to play golf, this is an important market that
travel agents cannot afford to ignore.