Change of strategy to continue promoting Barcelona as a golf destination
When the ‘Associació de Clubs i Camps de Golf de Barcelona’ was presented at the Club de Golf Terramar in September 2019, focussing on the tourist promotion of Barcelona Golf Destination, no one imagined that in March 2020, just six months later, the young project would find itself on standby. An interruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic that paralyzed the world at a global level, and tourism in general, in which golf tourism figures as one of the major engines.
In the year of lockdown and restrictions, of closures and reopenings of golf courses, and when in 2021 we still don’t know where the end of the tunnel is, we observe how golf associations have had to reinvent their strategies to keep their tourist offer alive, despite the uncertainties posed by the future.
In the case of Barcelona Golf Destination, which brings together seven courses in the province of Barcelona, the programmed promotion plans were completely disabled. However, its promoters are still working to place Barcelona as the emerging golf destination at an international level, especially emphasizing the new technological and digital resources.
To talk about 2020, get a perspective on the actions carried out, and how the 2021 season is looking now and what the future holds, we interviewed Carmen Nevot, Director of the Club de Golf Barcelona and current President of the Association.
Half a year after the creation of Barcelona Golf Destination, suffering the setback of the Covid-19 pandemic didn’t favor the development of the project. How has the golf sector in Barcelona faired? How is it fairing now?
It really has been a very hard blow for all of us, since we were just starting out and we had a very ambitious marketing plan for 2020. We were forced to completely modify the strategy several times, according to how the pandemic developed throughout the months and in the different markets.
In Barcelona the impact has been quite strong. The pandemic arrived in mid-March, 2020 which is when, under normal conditions, we would begin the high season for international players. And even today, foreign golfers still cannot come to visit us.
In general, regarding the association’s golf courses, we could say that the figure is around a 95% drop in international golf tourism.
With international tourism paralyzed and a dramatic situation for Barcelona’s golf clubs, especially those that depend on foreign golfers, has any aid been received to help their survival and subsequent recovery?
The situation is dramatic in terms of international players. The clubs have tried to weather the storm by attracting national and local players, such as the French market, who have responded well, when restrictions have allowed, as they have been able to visit us.
Regarding the tourist promotion of the destination, the administrations have reacted with a change in strategy, modifying their marketing plans as the pandemic evolves. We have been able to work together closely to redirect these strategies and continue promoting the destination in various media and formats. They have also launched some financial aid to tourism companies and sports entities, which we have been able to welcome.
And at the collective level of the Association, have they been able to take joint actions to cushion the blow?
From the Association we have modified our initial marketing plan, which was based on a busy calendar of participation in international golf tourism shows. In 2020 we started out strongly at the main Nordic shows, but everything stopped when we still had the rest of Europe to cover, and even a planned expedition to the Asian market.
Now we have started to focus on promoting the destination from the web, for which we are providing valuable content, and through social networks, with new accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
We will continue to keep these tools going for as long as the pandemic lasts and while we cannot leave home, to make ourselves better known. Meanwhile, we are alert to the opportunities that may arise, whether from agencies or tour operators, from airport and hotel facilities, or the idea of health passports and the opening of tourist corridors.
On the other hand, recent international studies have shown that the pandemic has been beneficial for golf, in the sense that many clubs have been able to increase the number of national members and affiliated players, even increasing the demand for green-fees when they have been able to open, due to the characteristics of golf as a relaxed activity that is practiced outdoors and maintains a safe distance, in addition to rigorously applying the protocols. Has it been the same for the golf courses of Barcelona?
In general, Barcelona golf clubs have noticed this trend, registering a good increase in new members and affiliated players, which has helped to alleviate the effects of the drastic decrease in international visitors.
Lastly, what are the next steps to be followed by Barcelona Golf Destination in 2021?
The Association’s next steps are to continue working to make Barcelona’s golf destination known through the potential of our courses, with the resources that are within our reach, given the circumstances and until the situation normalizes.
We have an impressive and varied product, with options from playing by the sea to surrounded by the mountains, with a complementary offer of the highest quality in terms of hospitality, gastronomy, culture and entertainment.
This is the message what we seek to convey in our new presentation video in which all the Association’s clubs and courses participate: RCG El Prat, Terramar Golf Club, Llavaneras Golf Club, Vallromanes Golf Club, Montanyà Golf, Club de Golf Barcelona and Golf La Roca. We hope you like it.
Miguel Ángel Buil
Editor of MyGolfWay.com