For the first time the UK Golf Course Owners Association held their annual event, the Golf Business and Industry Convention (GolfBIC) alongside BTME in Harrogate.
Featuring thought provoking and interactive conference sessions over two days the event attracted golf course owners from far and wide.
The conference days bookended a fine dinner in the beautiful Royal Hall during which £4000 was raised for the UKGCOA’s chosen charity the Golf Foundation.
'Beyond lies the breakthrough'
The conference culminated with award-winning former CEO and inspirational speaker Hamish Taylor’s keynote address on how to improve the running of golf clubs.
Despite his limited experience in golf, Hamish used his time with British Airways, Eurostar and Sainsbury’s Bank to offer insight into how golf clubs can maximise their efficiency. “Too much industry knowledge can create blinkers,” said Hamish. “Because you’re going in with eyes that can always see the problems rather than the opportunities.
“If you want a breakthrough, look outside your current environment!
“If you look in within your world, you will pick up some great ideas because you see what other people are doing," he maintained, "but the real breakthroughs come when you see something new and to do that you need new sources of inspiration.”
The solution to relieving passenger check-in congestion at Heathrow Airport in the early 90s lay with Disney, Hamish revealed, who introduced the carrier to the ‘zig-zag’.
“Other things included ‘if it’s going to be a 25-minute wait from here, tell everybody it’s going to be 30. Then when they get to the front they’re so happy; they’ve beaten the system'. Simple, simple stuff."
Over the last 10 years he had applied what he'd learned to many diverse sectors and the issues were "very similar.”
“Wanting more customers, creating a better customer experience, keeping the team and staff motivated - sound familiar? Put the customer at the centre of what you’re doing to drive growth.
"To do that you need to change the way you understand your customers, both external and internal," Hamish urged. “If you don’t look at them in a different way you’re not going to gain new understanding and insights."
The two days featured conference sessions on Tee Time Distribution and Yield from the CEO of the American Golf Course Owners Association, Jay Karen, an update on the exciting Vision 20-20 Project presented by Lodewijk Klootwijk, CEO of the European Owners Association and a number of sessions on diversifying the use of facilities.
These included the formal launch of British Putting, a project to bring commercial activity to the nation’s practice putting greens, an update on Footgolf and solutions for driving ranges with limited space options.
BTME regulars Syngenta were also on hand to update delegates on the love.golf project aimed at introducing more women to the game, a topic close to conference host, Naga Munchetty’s heart. The BBC Breakfast presenter hosted the BIGGA awards and GolfBIC throughout BTME 2016, further enhancing her reputation as an avid golf fan, following her appearance on Celebrity Mastermind, when she chose The Ryder Cup as her specialist subject.
However, the nine-handicapper suffers a turbulent relationship with the game. “There aren’t enough women,” said Naga. “Golf clubs aren’t doing enough to either change older or more traditional attitudes, or to make it more flexible for working women.”
The second day saw a real focus on operational matters in golf clubs with many leading experts offering insight into areas as diverse as budgeting, digital marketing and problem solving.