Golf trips have taken a hit during Covid, but that hasn’t diminished Valerie Gossett’s confidence in the profit potential of this spending market.
Gossett is the owner of Premier Resources Travel of Ellijay, GA. She has been a travel consultant since 2007 and has been in the golf travel market for around a decade. In 2019, Gossett booked between $ 4.5 million and $ 5 million on golf vacations, or about 40% of her personal revenue.
Most of Gossett’s golf sales consist of group tours around tournaments that she organizes and promotes with local golf professionals. Your typical golf tournament trips are for groups of 50 to 75 people and sometimes up to 100 people.
Due to the pandemic, it will be a while before Gossett golf sales hit their 2019 highs again. She said the next year looks like “a big old question mark” to her. In fact, she is postponing canceled golf trips for 2023 and skipping 2022 altogether.
“I’m not going to go through another 16 months like I did, so I’m looking beyond 2022. So 2022 will have a lot of FITs and smaller groups. The big things I see in golf are going to be for 2023 and beyond. “
No recovery yet
The golf wholesaler PerryGolf is also hedging its bets for 2022. “We don’t know what next summer will look like. We’d like to think back to normalcy, but. . . “Said President Gordon Dalgleish in a hushed voice.
This year, recovery has been slow at best for PerryGolf, which specializes in long-haul international golf travel. In fact, PerryGolf didn’t send its first golfers overseas until early August, after the runs were suspended in early March 2020.
“A full recovery is certainly still a long way off,” said Dalgleish. Roughly 50% of PerryGolf’s business is in the British Isles, where Covid restrictions have created what he called “quite a challenging environment”.
Even during normal times, availability in the British Isles is a problem due to the limited number of golf courses favored by PerryGolf.
Availability there will be even tighter next year as so many golf bookings from 2020 and 2021 have been postponed to 2022. For example, he said the Old Course at St Andrews in Scotland and Royal County Down and Royal Portrush, both in Northern Ireland, were replenished for 2022 the day they started taking bookings for the next year.
“In 2022 we are effectively sold out for some programs,” said Dalgleish.
PerryGolf was able to take some last minute bookings for the British Isles this year. But with a season that only lasts through early to mid-October, options were limited. And the company’s usual winter golf destinations – South Africa, New Zealand and Australia in particular – are “dead in the water,” said Dalgleish.
A bright spot for PerryGolf is its golf cruise product, which it offers in partnership with Azamara. “We have just launched our 2023 cruise programs with Azamara and that looks promising. To me, that speaks volumes about cruising resilience, ”said Dalgleish.
For 2022, the company’s cruise programs are “looking very good,” he said, although he also added a warning due to Covid: “I don’t want to assume that 2022 will go smoothly.”
Positive outlook, but patience required
Both Dalgleish and travel advisor Valerie Gossett are excited about the long-term potential of golf travel given the nature of the golfers who travel.
“Golfers always want to try new championship courses and have the bandwidth to travel and try courses outside of the US.”
For travel agents, “The profitability lies in putting groups together – that’s repeat business. You always want to go to a different tournament; that’s what golfers do, ”said Gossett.
Dalgleish also noted that golfers are passionate about the sport, wealthy, high-spending, and hungry to try new experiences. “It’s a robust market,” he said.
In addition, many golf travelers are 60 or older so while they may have the money to travel, they have fewer and fewer opportunities as they age, he noted.
This is important at a time when Covid can only travel to a limited extent. “You lost two years of travel – it’s a perfect storm for vengeance trips. And people have bucket lists, be it to play Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand, go on safari or play golf with your son. “
All of these factors also make Dalgleish optimistic about the prospect for golf travel. “When confidence returns, international travel will be very strong. We just don’t know when that will be, ”he said.
For her part, Gossett is willing to wait. She strongly believes in patience and long-term business planning. Golf trips have rewarded her past efforts and she has every confidence that it will again.