Could it be? Really? Is 2022 the year we see the elusive golf traveler emerge from a two-year hibernation? A firm shake of your magic eight ball yields: “Signs point to yes!”
“There is positive news on the travel front,” says Chris Adams, who heads research and insights for Miles Partnership, a marketing company that focuses on travel and tourism. “It appears we’re moving into a post-pandemic mode through the summer [of 2022].”
Adams, who also serves on the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Covid-19 taskforce, adds that the top discretionary item for consumer spending is travel. “There’s a pent-up demand for travel,” he says.
What’s more, the WTTC is projecting that U.S. domestic travel and tourism spending will top pre-pandemic levels by 11.3%.
So, how can you best market to the golf-enthused traveler? And another vital question: How can the traveler find you? Adams says when marketing to golfers, try cooperative marketing with local hotels, restaurants and travel or tourism offices. “It’s not always just about golf, but also other hobbies, food, wine, amusement parks, sporting events, beaches or mountains – there’s more than one course on the menu for travelers,” Adams says. “So it’s worth connecting with other advertisers.
“And working with your state tourism office can pay big dividends because they offer free, unpaid editorial – they have many ways to showcase golf.”
And to ensure that travelers can find your course when planning their trips, it’s important to pay close attention to your online listings and your website.
Adams says all businesses – including golf courses – have free listings on websites such as Google Maps, Tripadvisor, Apple Maps, Facebook and Yelp. “Claim your business on these sites; it’s free. Keep those listings up to date – make sure your hours and other info is current. This is especially important coming out of the pandemic. When someone types into Google, your course is more likely to come to the top if your listing is up to date.”
Kenny Marks, managing partner for Get Found Fast, a digital marketing agency in Centennial, Colorado, says your Google business profile (formerly known as Google My Business) is “one of your most important assets on Google” and it includes phone call tracking, a free Google website, a posting feature for regular promotion of your company, a photo gallery, messaging and much more.
“An updated and well-optimized Google business profile will expand your visibility online, deliver customers, phone calls, and clicks to your website to schedule tee times, and give your potential customers more info about your business,” Marks says. “Your photos, reviews, map pin placement and how you show up in local golf course searches in the maps section are all dependent on this listing and its management.”
Marks adds that your website, when properly optimized, can increase your business. Specifically, he says to ensure your website is built on a mobile-friendly and Google-friendly platform so customers can easily find, see and use your website on their phones.
“Just like playing behind a slow group of golfers, no one likes a slow-loading website. Good page speed is important not only for folks navigating your website, but also for Google to rank your website higher than the competition when someone is searching,” Marks says.
You can check your site speed at https://pagespeed.web.dev/.
Marks also says that the right content and words on your website allow Google to get your website to the top of a search for "best golf courses near me,” for example.
“Search engine optimization is a foundational online marketing strategy, and when it’s done correctly, it will open your course to new clientele who are looking for you,” Marks says. “Producing good, relevant, and well-written content on your website via a blog, and promoting that content on your social media and other platforms across the internet will boost your website ranking.”