Thursday, February 1, 2007
Focus On: Golfpac Travel
That’s where the “My Trip” tool on Golfpac Travel’s Website comes into play. My Trip is a password-protected subsite the company has devised in order for each member of a specific travel group to stay in touch with each other. The My Trip site gives the Group Leader and each member of the golf group the opportunity to review information and confirmations for golf, hotels, rental cars; view balances and payments; make payments and enter rooming lists.
Golfpac’s Vacation Finder, meanwhile, is just what the name suggests. A potential traveler can use the Vacation Finder tool on the site to select from one of more than a dozen domestic and international golf destinations, select the date of arrival and the number of nights and golf rounds desired, and select a price range. For example, target Orlando for five nights and four rounds in May 2007 (for $1,001 to $1,250), and you’ll get a price quote and online booking information at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort and the Reunion Resort and Club.
“We let a customer build his own itinerary,” Hamilton says. “The Internet is there as a tool to use to gather information. A lot of product on the Internet basically isn’t regulated, so it’s nothing but a tool for gathering information and then making some evaluation as to the people behind the pages.
“One of the things we try to convey to people is that you can always find something cheaper out there, but where is it going to be after you buy it? Or when there’s a problem? We’re trying to educate people that it’s important not only to have a good product in front of you, but to make sure you’re dealing with a reputable company that stands behind its product and has been in business for some time.
“We have the ability to sort courses by price, so if you go in and do an alphabetical search, you can select a course by the price point,” Hamilton says. “We’re trying to give customers as many ways as possible to look at a product and give them a better understanding of where a course is and what it costs. We also have a hotel locator to let customers know when they’re nearby courses for first-day and last-day type of play. We’ve been pretty innovative in all those approaches in being able to put those programs in place.”
Golfpac also has an impressive record on the international travel scene. After all, not all golf travel companies can guarantee tee times on the Old Course at St. Andrews, but Golfpac, through its relationship with the Links Golf St. Andrews, can do just that.
Unless you’re fortunate enough to live in the Auld Grey Toon or be a member of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, the most common way to get a tee time on the Old Course is through the daily lottery. But even that’s a crapshoot these days, making Golfpac’s deal with the Links Golf St. Andrews all the more valuable. Through a subsite, www.golfpacinternational.com, Golfpac can provide a list of departure dates where a package of six or more nights guarantees a round on the Old Course.
But whether it’s the Old Course, Carnoustie across the bay or Donald Ross’s home course of Royal Dornoch, there’s no shortage of golf in Scotland. And although the country is small, a first-time visitor can be a bit overwhelmed by it all. In other words, it helps to have some local knowledge, such as: You’re not guaranteed a tee time at the Old Course by staying at the Old Course Hotel; take a USGA handicap card with you, although you probably won’t need it; use balsamic vinegar, not catsup, on your French fries (or “chips”); and it’s usually best to wash down haggis with a good, single-malt scotch.
“We got into the international market 12 to 14 years ago,” Hamilton says. “What we realized early on is that we need to have good ground representatives. With about any [travel company] you can get a tee time, a car and a room, but an awful lot can go wrong.
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