Titanic on Emerald Isle

Ireland is always worth travelling. And if you are lucky as we are now for more than 10 years you even don’t need an umbrella. After John and Justin from North and West Coast Links (wclgolf@iol.ie, +353-91-868642) advised and helped us again where to play we started in Dublin and once again at Portmarnock Links the Bernhard Langer Course (thank you Moira: mcassidy@portmarnock.com, +353-1-8666591). To be honest it was not as good in shape as we know it from earlier times. But the 13th is lengthened and the greens were vertilised so by the time you arrive it will be as good as it ever was and it is a great feeling to play near the ocean. Also the hotel is now refurbished. On the next day we played a must for Links Golf Fans: Portmarnock Old (thank you Jeff: jeff@portmarnockgolfclub.ie, +353-1-8462968). On the third day we played The Island. It was in very good shape and even with hardly no wind it is a challenge to play your handicap. (thank you Cathy: cathy@theislandgolfclub.com, +353-1-8436205).

Leaving Dublin and directing to Belfast we stayed at Slieve Donard Hotel, sitting like a castle at the beachside of Newcastle. Spacious rooms overlooking the Irish Sea and/or Royal County Down it is the place to stay (thank you Tom: tcotter@hastingshotels.com, +44-28-90674166 and Claire cedkins@sdh.hastingshotels.com, +44-28-43721018). Driving to Ardglass Golf Course takes you about 45 min. and every minute is worth it driving near the coast to a small picturesque village where at the end the course is located. The first tee is guided by old cannons and you drive along the Sea and the rough coast line. The Par 3 fifth is the shortest Par 5 in Ireland – try it yourself. What a fantastic rural golf course. Coming back to Newcastle the clouds were hanging deeply on the mountains. So we did not expect another sunny day at Royal County Down. You can’t be more English than the starter Stan who guided us the way down the first. And I bet you have not seen more natural bunkers than here. The very challenging course – the strong winds didn’t make it easier – is despite the high greenfees (RCD does not believe in discounts) strongly recommended. If you survived vitamin “G” it will strengthen you again.

Golf is not everything in life – do you agree? So we drove about an hour to Belfast and visited the brand new Titanic Museum. Did you know it was built exactly where the Museum is today? You can park right underneath and reach the spacious lobby with cafe and souvenir shop. Starting on the first floor you will learn and experience about the early 20th century and the industrialisation in Belfast. Forget about the famous movie, here you see how it was at that time and what an effort it was to built a ship like that even if it sank on the first cruise (thank you Alex: alexmcgreevy@titanicbelfast.com, +44-28-90766363). And if you are interested in architecture the Museum itself as a landmark is worth visiting.

So coming back to Ireland / North Ireland is no question, but time will be the issue. I hope you find the time. Please use all contact details to arrange your reservations and get one or the other hint what else you can see and discover “Craig-Factor” on Emerald Isle.

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KPMG or feel like home

Last week the KPMG unveiled their latest Golf Travel Insights 2012. There were a lot of interesting numbers and statistics that help to understand the business of golf travellers. But what the numbers do not show is the warmth and the hospitality that golfers on the road (or even at home) do expect. If you are on a journey you evaluate the quality rating mostly on how much attention you got and how honest that was. Me personal I hate that American-Collegiate-Supersmile with no real meaning. But it is not the failure of the employees in the first place, it is that the employer do not care about their guest and hire the wrong and non authentic people.

The inner feeling of the people who deal with your guests should be “I am a salaried employee and it is my personal business that our guests feel home”. The reason why I utilize “salaried” and “business” in that context is that my employees must be aware that if they do not understand guest-hospitality as their business they do not get any salary.

But can you teach hospitality – no! If someone is not born with that inner feeling he or she should be working on a mechanical unit, but not with people. But yes you can sensitice for being open to the guests demands. I strongly believe in that you do not have to have the best, perfect, nicest, … hotel, golf course, o.s. people will forget the little imperfections as long as they feel that their requirements or even their minor complains are taken serious.

While you read that you might think “I know all that” – but does you behaviour correspond with these demands? I mean really? 24/7? Do all of your workers, employees and even partners that get in contact with your clients understand and make that point? If not there are to ways of solving that spread. First fire the ones who are not willing to put your business in the first place. Second give the ones who want to the support they need. Means give them the understanding that you expect that they should have accross from your guests.

Above that travellers are your source of information. They have been to other places and do not get tired to tell you about their experiences wether they were good or bad. Listen to what they have to say and learn.

all rights MARTIN SUITER - Consultancy

Use every statistic that you can get to know all about the hard facts, but be ready before guests have wishes, requirements and demands. And be even more ready if you failed for any reason and let your guest feel that you are personally honoured that they are here. If you respect that you change the statistics yourself because than guests will more often come back exactly to your place because they felt understood – they felt like home.

More statistics see the Golf Business Community

Award – Reward – Return Service

Award – Reward – Return Service

On nearly each day we can see pictures from Award ceremonies all over for everything. Why is that? In past times Awards were given for outstanding performance in different categories. The Nobel prize is an example for why an Award should be given – for lasting, intense analysis and research on various fields and outstanding achievements. It is an Award that is given after the results have been proved for a long time period.

It is not comparable to the Award glut nowadays. The reason why an Award is given has no connection to a real merit anymore. The main reasons for Awards today are – a reward or return service for booked advertisement space, for booked floor space at exhibitions for getting famous people for promotion or to attract the press and to deliver the right pictures.

Do you know any Award that is given for real substantial work/merit? 

To me only some peoples choice Awards reflect at least popularity of a product or effort. But even that is subject to very short term temporary moods. Today we are able to let people follow the process of finding the right person, project, product, service to be awarded. In my mind transparency would help to regain value to any kind of Award.

What do you think could give an Award the value being a tribute for …?

We will follow up that discussion and hope to find a meaningful solution to stop that Award cheating all over.

Review of the IGTM 2011

The IGTM’11 (International Golf Travel Market) made a stop in Belek, Turkey. From 13th to 18th of November that was the meeting point for all IAGTO (International Golf Tour Operators) members including the IGTWA  (International Golf Travel Writers Association) members world wide.

Belek is golf and hotels not more but also not less. Excellent courses and 5 star hotels edge the south coast of Turkey about 40 min drive east of Antalya airport. When you drive there sitting in a bus or taxi it is similar to a drive by train down the Nile. Where is water there is prosperity, wealth and all clean. But on the other side of the bus, taxi or train there is desert and poverty. But we were there for work.

Sadly enough on the tournament Monday it was pouring rain and it was cold. So some of us played no golf, 3 holes, 9 holes and very few 18. Tuesday, the first of three exhibition days, we had to enter the busses that drove us 40 min back to Antalya exhibition center which was mainly a huge hall not decorated in any style. The food corner was in an open space and due to the temperatures we felt  never warm and welcome.

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I do not know if it was Reed or the local provider, but nobody made any effort in serving the members, buyers, writers exhibitors. Everything was made halfhearted – carpets, lights, even the pre booked Wlan/Wifi did not work as it should at an event like that. But nevertheless we were there to do business and not moan about the circumstances and it was productive and for most of the participants successful.

I would like to mention that the atmosphere between the suppliers, buyers, writers, competitors was remarkable and that is the way how we all should work in these days – hard working and fighting, but at the end cheer with a beer. All the functions and receptions official and not so official were well organised, in good sentiment and had good vibes. And of course, as it is the usual way – some deals were finalized at the bar. So on the flight home reflecting the week in Belek, it was almost essential to participate IGTM and so I will pack my suitcase again for IGTM’12 at the Algarve. Further information, comments and pictures can be found on  facebook and twitter.