Golfers getting on the green via new OTA Technology, Travel Industry News By KARRYON @karryontravel26 Aug 2014There’s no doubt golf tourism has risen up the ranks as an important growing niche market for destinations that offer world-class courses, largely because the sector usually garners a higher spending group of clientele given the nature of the resorts associated with the sport. So it’s only natural for travel companies to want to bank in on the growth – in particular, those travelling to the US for golf alone. According to the International Association of Golf Tour Operators, the US was the fastest growing destination for golf tour operators in 2013. According to a Skift report, the organisation includes 553 golf tour operators that together control more than 85% of the world’s golf holiday packages with more than US$2.2 billion in sales in 2013. “Regionally, Asian operators report that golfers are starting to explore more golf destinations, with operators worldwide featuring more destinations and attracting new clients,” IAGTO Chief Executive Peter Walton. According to skift, half of golfers worldwide book their golf holiday via a golf tour operator or travel agency, while the remainder book direct. While the market is buoyant on the green, there’s a new player outside of tour operators and direct bookings – a start-up called Golfscape, which describes itself as a “golf OTA”. According to a tnooz interview with the founders, it has positioned its services as “the modern golf concierge for luxury destination golf”. Co-founded by Michael Galasso and Raghad Mukhaimer, Golfscape targets travellers who wants to book online but prefers to search and shop on their own. Speaking to tnooz, Golfscape says 14% of golf bookings are conducted online but as shown by the IAGTO stats, with such few tour operators in the market, they hold a monopoly over courses wanting to lure high-spending golfers. Through the site, “golfers can build and customise their own golf itineraries, choosing from among 15,000 US-based golf courses, and a smattering of other international courses” according to the tnooz report. “The system offers on-demand booking, with the ability to request tee-times. Instant booking will be rolled out gradually over the year, with international markets such as Vietnam, Thailand, Bali, Costa del Sol and the Algarve coming online by the end of 2014.” “We want to do for the golf industry what Expedia has done for flights/hotel industry by making the booking process much simpler, while bringing some golf courses online for the first time,” the founders told tnooz. Do you think a start-up like Golfscape will make its mark with Australian golfers? Other stories you may like MYTHBUSTER – You don’t need to sell your house to visit South Africa PUPPY LOVE: Visit Victoria wants dog owners to holiday with their pooch MUSIC TO OUR EARS: Check out the new Delta Air Lines B777 & win a trip to the GRAMMY Awards® ceremony!