Interview: Andrew Smith, Chief Commercial Officer, Your Golf Travel

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Jamie O’Doherty chats to Andrew Smith to find out what the impact of the global pandemic is on the Golf Travel industry.

What impact has the pandemic had on the golf travel sector overall?

Like many industries, the last 12 months have been extremely challenging for the Travel & Tourism Sector. Overseas travel has been heavily restricted, and what business we do have tends to be for travel later in the year.

Have you found an increase in golf breaks being booked in the UK?

Certainly last Summer was fantastic for UK domestic business, with bookings outstripping previous years at certain times, just proving that there is plenty of pent up demand for  golf and golf travel.

What UK locations are the most popular – can you list the top five?

Many of the usual suspects, such as the Belfry and Celtic Manor did well, particularly off the back of showcasing their venues through European Tour events last year. However we are also seeing a trend towards slightly longer domestic breaks, as well as with clients looking to stay close to evening entertainment, and travel out to golf clubs, which fits a more overseas golf break typology.

How far ahead were golfers booking overseas breaks before the lockdown measures came into force and travel was restricted?

Before Christmas, April & May 2021 travel was gaining traction, now it tends to be more May/June and more likely Autumn 2021.

Can golfers actually book breaks in the UK and abroad now and would they be covered by any insurances?

Yes they can, absolutely, and whilst their insurance cover would depend on the individual policy, our Flexible Guarantee at YGT means that clients can move their booking at no cost.

What were the most popular overseas locations that were being booked before the lockdown and travel restrictions were imposed?

Before the January lockdown, the countries that had travel corridors were still strong, such as the UAE & Mauritius, and we still had demand, albeit reduced, to Spain and Portugal for travel later in the year. Interestingly the UAE has seen a 50% increase in bookings during this lockdown, compared to the same period last year! 

What would be your recommended strategy for golfers eager to get a golf break?

BOOK! by the time Autumn arrives we will have missed 3 golf travel seasons, with most clients having rebooked for then or next year, availability will be extremely tight for the next 12 months. If you can’t travel for COVID reasons, or travel is not possible due to government advice, you can move your travel dates*, but if you are thinking of travelling but are waiting for government advice to change you may miss out. Remember the current advice is for now, it is not necessarily the advice for travel at a future date.

When do you feel we might start seeing some overseas golf travel?

I am confident we will see some travel late Spring.

Tell us 3 things about yourself that people might not know? 

  • chef…
  • drove the par 4 10th at the Belfry when I was 13…
  • In 12 years with YGT, We have taken over 6000 clients to the US Masters, but I still haven’t been!

 

*Subject to terms and conditions, https://www.yourgolftravel.com/flexibility-guarantee.