Wednesday, 5 September 2012

£300,000 Public Spend to Sponsor Ryder Cup Coverage

According to today's Scotsman published on Wednesday 5 September "The Scottish Government’s tourism agency is using £300,000 of taxpayer’s cash to sponsor Sky TV’s coverage of the Ryder Cup in the United States this month. VisitScotland is paying the money in exchange for advertising access to Sky, owned by the BSkyB group.

A VisitScotland spokesman said: “In addition to print, digital and events the latest campaign promoting Scotland The Home of Golf, running until March 2013, includes a TV spend of £300,000.”

The Scotsman also pointedly, and without any political bias clearly, note that "A government spokeswoman said no ministers were involved in the discussions with Sky."

Previously I may have been one of those that actually would have applauded this expenditure as a good way of promoting Scotland as a golfing destination but the reality would now be a little different and I'd at least question the value of the expenditure and whether indeed it was at all necessary.

£300K is a lot of money and if it was part of a co-ordinated marketing spend tied in with proactive support from the private sector it could be seen to be providing some potential but once again it sits in splendid isolation with apparently no communication to the golf industry (neither in Scotland nor abroad) that the sponsorship campaign is taking place and therefore no partnership marketing campaigns have as far as we can identify been set up to take advantage of any traffic generated to tourist board websites or similar.

Now there may be plans afoot to relaunch the Home of Golf website hosted on VisitScotland's own platform but there is certainly no evidence of it and as members ourselves of Golf Tourism Scotland there has been no advice from that body regarding opportunities.

Golf is just a reflection of the fragmented nature of the tourism and hospitality sector in this country. There is today a committee at the Scottish Parliament looking at these headline events and their benefits but the answers will come back from those industry leaders "We're making progress", "We can't keep looking back", "There is greater collaboration", "Clear strategic objectives are emerging", "We recognise we've made mistakes but...", "We couldn't have foreseen the depth of the economic challenges" (Well yes actually we could!).

And then the committee will nod knowingly produce a report and nothing changes.

And public money will continue to be spent on trophy marketing ideas that just go nowhere. Generating awareness and interest has to have product producers ready to convert this desire to action. Clearly VisitScotland's sponsorship campaign on Rupert Murdoch's Sky has no such call to action in place.

For example, where is the Ryder Cup Promotional Toolkit that has been rolled out so aggressively for the industry for the launch of a bloody Cartoon? These are the things that could and should be within the remit of a national tourism organisation not bland disassociated sponsorship deals on UK satellite channels.

Can anyway tell us why it has to be this way?

It's not all the fault of the public sector for sure. The golf industry should be mature enough to be able to identify the opportunities and make demands of their own. They consistently fail to call publicly for real answers.

PS - There is Another Solution... Yes More Golf Strategy Workshops!

What we do know however is that even if they can't gain from the sponsorship deal, the golf sector can "look forward" to another series of strategy meetings hosted and developed by Scottish Enterprise to identify opportunities for the golf sector to maximise its potential.

Well way back in 1999 when The Ryder Cup bid was first mooted that was the key objective. To use the Ryder Cup as a catalyst for golf development at grass roots, for tourism development at all levels, for product development and to create a "golfing legacy".

Can anyone explain to me why after thirteen years of planning the golf tourism sector still doesn't have a co-ordinated public private golf structure and marketing delivery mechanism in place?

Who's to blame?

You know what we as an industry have sat back and accepted it. We are to blame.


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