with Robert Bicknell
The dust has settled, the course is back to normal and it's business as usual here in Viet Nam after the Tet Lunar New Year. So, now would be a good time to crunch the numbers and see exactly how much of an impact the $1.5 Million Asian Tour Ho Tram Open had in terms of putting Vietnam on the golfing map.
Of course, despite what the numbers say, the bottom line will be how many golf visitors come to Viet Nam in the coming year because of what they saw on TV.
When hosting a major event such as the HTO, not all coverage is the tournament. They also have cultural pieces which highlight the country and different possible destinations. There is more to this than just golf. When I spoke with the then Asian Tour chairman Kyi Hla Han, he spoke about the over all aspects of hosting an event and what the club expected to get out of it. Some just want a high-profile event to boost the club's prestige and sell more memberships and villas, others want to get more from it.
The Bluffs wanted more. They wanted to not just promote their club and Ho Tram, but also Viet Nam in general as a golfing destination. There is no doubt that they did just that, but to what degree is the question. Based on the numbers, it would seem that they did have a significant impact on how the world views golf in Viet Nam.
Was it worth the amount of time and money to host an Asian Tour event of this magnitude. Sure, others have done it with a lot less investment, but if you're gonna do something, you might as well go whole hog and do it right, and the Bluffs did just that and the results show that it was worth it.
They potentially reached 443,771, 253 households through 1,134 global television broadcast hours. The event reached 33 golf tourist rich markets.
Think about this for a second.
There were 123.22 hours of coverage in Hong Kong, which is a market known for taking golf and shopping holidays in foreign countries. 81.30 hours in Thailand, our neighbours to the south who also love golf and take holidays abroad.
France, who has a long history with Viet Nam had 73.30 hours of broadcast time, showing that there is still curiosity of events here and demonstrating that the connection between the two countries still remains strong.
Australia, a land down under, whose people love to travel and love golf even more had 42 hours of broadcast. Singapore had 85 hours and the Middle East even recorded 50 hours.
These are all people who have money, love golf and travel a lot. This is our target market.
Just as importantly, from a public relations point of view, it showed a different side of Viet Nam to people who still equate the country with the war. We have moved on long ago, but there is still a segment of the world population who never thought of us otherwise. This event coverage showed there is more to the country than the Cu Chi Tunnels.
650 Vietnam Business Leaders were also hosted for the event. This helps to forge new possible relationships, both locally and around the world, to bring new business opportunities to Vietnam.
In addition to television, seven print media (with an on-line footprint) and 10 Vietnamese media outlets where on hand to provide coverage. While people forget what they saw on TV 15 minutes later, print media stays with you longer. So issues of Golf Digest Japan, Golf Digest China, Golf Digest Korea, HK Golfer and the others will continue to be viewed over time.
Local coverage through Vietnam Golf Magazine, Viet Nam News, Golf & Life, to name but a few, plus HTV, VTV 1, K+ helped to bring golf to the people who might have never seen it up close and only heard vague references to it.
All in all, I think it would be safe to say that the $1.5 million Asian Tour Ho Tram Open achieved its goal to increase awareness of golf in Viet Nam to the world.
How much of that translates into increased tourism and visitor rounds remains to be seen as a lot depends on the country's tourism policies, which we all hope will become more user friendly. — VNS