If 2020 is remembered for nothing else, it could well be the year in which communications came of age in the golf business.
Albeit that ¾ of my business activity was shut down (and still is), like many people, I engaged with three new clients without the benefit of a ‘real-World’ meeting, a simply un-heard of occurrence (at least in my circles) prior to this watershed year.
In its simplest form the Latin word ‘communicare’, means the sharing of information. Although the meaning has not developed over many thousands of years, the pathways and platforms through and with which people can communicate has proliferated enormously, which bring challenges of its own.
In this discussion we explore with four panellists what value communications brings to their efforts to stay connected with their publics, both externally and internally, in terms of their brand and related products and services.
Joining this section of the discussion about marketing / advertising are Damian Wrigley, the GM at Pearl Valley, Peter Dros the Director of Sales and Marketing at Fancourt, Robert Jasper (RJ) the GM of the Sandton Sun hotel and Brendan Barratt (BB) the Editor of GolfRSA’s newsletter.
As a fellow traveller in the world of journalism, I started with Brendan by asking if the golf business fully understands the need for continual communications, especially as this relates to tourism, rather than just the knee jerk type, stop start approach the often typifies the way so many treat this vital and iterative activity:
BB: I think that the manner in which we communicate is constantly evolving. These days, with so much competing ‘noise’, we can no longer be guaranteed of the attention of our audiences for any length of time, so we need to ensure that what we communicate is effective.
Those who get it right understand that, as you have pointed out, effective communication is continual as you build a relationship with your audience by reinforcing past messages without being repetitive. In the tourism space, this is about staying front of mind with potential clients.
JC: To paraphrase Sun Tszu’s saying ‘know your enemy’, I have always said to my clients that it is key to effective communications to understand their publics, especially given the multiplicity of communications’ options now available.
BB: I agree. These days, audiences are getting their news and entertainment from so many different media platforms that it can be hard for them to know which source to trust. Individuals are subjected to so much marketing – directly or indirectly – on a daily basis and it makes sense that understanding your audience’s needs and knowing which platforms best suit your communications strategy will help you to deliver the right message and retain your credibility.
JC: The Sandton Sun, Pearl Valley and Fancourt all use a mix of media, so I asked Damian Wrigley from Pearl Valley if there will be any particular focus for him as we look to rebuild in the golf sector and as we learn to live with the pandemic and its fallout
DW: As an estate, lifestyle, golf and accommodation offering a big focus is to remain relevant, top of mind and positive in our communication. Our approach throughout the various levels of lock down was to continue to put out content. The key reason for this is that we wanted to remain top of mind, through our various platforms and keep the dialogue open with our residents, local SA golfers, tour operators and international golfers.
JC: How do you feel that a call to action can manifest itself most effectively for you and could you give us three examples?
DW: Three examples would be: Destination Golf Travel – this publication is particularly effective as a shop window, but becomes even more so when we combine our presence as a venue with a tour or event.
All our various social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram as well as our website and engagement though our data base.
With PR – I have always enjoyed your approach to this particular layer as you promote the venue in terms of your discussions, without allowing the copy to slide into the advertorial, which would completely dilute its value.
JC: I posed the same question to Peter Dros from Fancourt and Robert Jasper from the Sandton Sun.
PD: To continue the use of analogies as a destination we need to ‘fish where the fish are’, so in this context there are certain media that have a particular relevance to what we offer at Fancourt and the choice of platforms must also therefore align with our audience’s profile and presence.
I agree with Damian in that we see Destination Golf Travel as a cost-effective platform through which to reach out to our traditional markets in the UK and Europe. Thereafter a mix of other media channels, but dominated by social media and digital platforms, which are really cost effective and most importantly allow you to measure returns.
The glory days of shot gun marketing are gone and each cent needs to be justified with an ROI to understand and justify the next spend or campaign to a clearly defined target audience.
RJ: We must keep ‘talking’ to our publics, whatever it takes, because if you become invisible it will not be too long before you are also forgotten! We use social media extensively for feedback and follow up - Facebook for the Sandton Sun hotel and then also Twitter and Instagram at a Group level. However, in this environment we also need to be on the front foot as much as possible and in as many relevant media channels as possible to keep up the levels of brand awareness.
John Cockayne has been a Professional Golfer since 1977 and is a fully qualified founder member and Life Member of the PGA of South Africa. He is a former Head Professional at Royal Oak, State Mines and Benoni Country Clubs and Director of Golf at Southbroom, during which period he was involved in the organisation of golf tours, numerous professional and amateur tournaments and as a consultant on the Sunshine Circuit.