- February 11, 2021 // The Consummate Pro
“So what do you do”
It’s one of those great moments at a dinner party or a get-together. The “so, what do you do for a living?” question. “You plan Ireland and Scotland golf vacations?”.
When you announce that you are a ‘golf tour operator’, the reactions are usually quite mixed. The usual one is “a what?”, and, “I didn’t know that existed”, is a close second. The follow-up is usually something along the lines of, “okay, so what is it you actually do?”, or “is it difficult to plan an Ireland golf vacation?”. The real funny one is, “wow, you must play a lot of golf”. If only!
These are fairly common responses, and pretty much to be expected particular if you are not a golfer. When you remind people that if they ski, or take an adventure holiday, or even a honeymoon for that matter, chances are you will use a dedicated expert to book it, the penny somewhat drops. To be honest, we love this question, because it allows us to talk about what we enjoy doing most, organising amazing golf vacations to Ireland, Scotland, or beyond. Like other experts in their field, the process becomes second nature, but every client is unique, and every trip different. That’s why we love what we do. So, it got us thinking about what we actually go through for each client, and we thought we would share some of it with you. It might also go some way to explaining the time and effort that we employ in just planning a trip.
This is the introductory stage with a new, or even an existing client. At this point we discuss the nuts and bolts of the trip. We find out how many days and nights the group want to be away for, as well as the preferred destination. Are we thinking a Northern Irish golf trip this year, or are we going back to Scotland? Maybe it is the Dublin area or a trip to the Scottish Highlands? We discuss dates and time of year as well as the number of rounds to be played. Naturally we discuss the golf course options (a long discussion), as well as accommodation and the specific bedroom breakdown. Is it Royal Portrush or Ballybunion; Portmarnock or Enniscrone?
We also talk transportation, the keystones of any trip. At this point we will also likely cover restaurants, tours, caddies, flights, deposits and terms and conditions. That’s typically the first call covered. However, depending on the group, there could also be non-golfing activities to discuss, days off for sightseeing, a distillery tour, and much more. Moreover, if this is a new client to The Consummate Pro we will inevitably discuss the groups previous trips (if any) so that we can learn from previous mistakes or find out what worked well.
Plan an Ireland golf vacation.
Once we’ve had our initial discussion, and we get the feel for the group and what they want to achieve this time around, we can get a start on planning their Ireland or Scotland golf vacation properly. We will first try to narrow down the dates and numbers, and then start to contact our supplier partners. We will check availability at golf courses, accommodation providers, of which there could be several of both. We will then review where we are. At this point we might have to reorganise part of the trip based on what we have learned (not a rare occurrence).
After all, like any travel booking, golf clubs have special events in their diary, hotels have blackout dates and some partners may be already booked, that’s just the nature of the business. We will need to confirm vehicle availability, perhaps do a provisional check on a particular favourite restaurant’s availability or a specific whisk(e)y tour, then it all needs to be priced. Once we have done that, we will just about be in a position to present the proposal back to the client.
Needless to say, our clients feedback is vital. Once they have reviewed our proposal we might occasionally still need to make some changes, or recommendations. This will involve further availability checks, amendments and often a re-price, before we present it again for approval. This part of the process can take a little time as we are usually dealing with a group of between 8-24 individuals. If they are not used to travelling together, consensus can sometimes be difficult to acquire, but we always get there in the end. This is why it is good to have a strong group ‘Captain’ to lead the party. It is also important for the group to be a cohesive unit, ideally familiar with each other, who have travelled in the past. This way, disagreements are kept to a minimum and the group Captain can just get on with his job.
Once our client is happy, and we receive written confirmation to proceed, then the booking phase begins. Deposit payments are processed, and we set to work reserving the most important elements of the trip, starting with tee times. We will gather these confirmations and set the final payment dates in the system. We will notify the client that everything is in hand, and then set about finalising all of the details of the trip. Restaurants will be confirmed, whisky tastings booked, caddies confirmed etc. After that, it won’t be long before we find ourselves 90 days from arrival.
90 Days Out.
At this point in the journey, we request and receive balance payments from the group. The outstanding balances are paid to the golf clubs and accommodation providers, and rooming lists will be sent. Our other partners will be pre-paid what is owed, and the trip will be almost ready to rock.
30 Days Out.
A month away from arrival for your ‘Northern Ireland golf trip’ we will send our clients their final document packs. These have all of the information they need to see them through their trip. From a suggested packing list, to notes on the local power wattages, to information on cell phone usage. The group Captain will get all of the relevant contact telephone numbers needed so that we can keep communicating at short notice if needed. About this time we also send information about golf club shipping. A growing trend, many golfers like to avoid the luggage hold on commercial aeroplanes and the gauntlet of baggage claim, and so we arrange to ship their clubs ahead. This is one of those details that people really don’t start to think about until a month or so before departure. We highly recommend Luggage Forward for this.
When the big day finally arrives, the group will be met on arrival at their port of entry by a member of The Consummate Pro team. We have spent a lot of time discussing the trip, so it is always great to be able to meet the guys in person, if only briefly while everyone gets their luggage organised. It is also very beneficial to have a local contact on the ground at an airport should any luggage get delayed. We will introduce the group to their driver guide, who from there will be their personal concierge for the trip. We only choose the best. Most drivers are like walking Lonely Planet guides, an invaluable resource while on the road.
During the Trip.
It is rare for our clients to need us during their golf vacation in Ireland or Scotland, however we still like to check in with everyone at least once. Even if it is only a text message, or a WhatsApp, clients always tell us it’s reassuring to know we are there. A member of the Consummate Pro team is always available 24/7 should we be required. If we can, and it is convenient, we also try to see the group at least once during their trip, if only for a few minutes to check in on them. We appreciate that everyone is on vacation, so its always as low-key as possible.
Departure and Post-Trip
Again if we can, we will try to get a chance to say goodbye to the group. While that may not be in person at the airport, we will always check in with them. If we can’t we will always call the group Captain a couple of days after they get home to make sure that everything went okay, and to see how their ‘recovery’ is going! Moreover, we always send a feedback form to our clients once they have been back a few weeks to get their thoughts. It is always better to wait a short time to let the dust settle, and we usually get the best feedback that way. This really helps us to plan trips in the future, or to discuss issues, if there were any with our partners.
So as you will see, there is a little more involved to plan an Ireland or Scotland golf vacation than just booking a few tee times! This has really only scratched the surface, but as you can appreciate, it is why so many of our clients ask us to take care of their trip arrangements for them. We look forward to hearing from you and hopefully we can help plan you next golf vacation in Ireland or Scotland in the future.