Wednesday 25th February 2015
In the media: Golf Management Europe magazine
Our very own Andrew Harris was featured in this months Golf Management Europe magazine, talking about steaks, Nigeria and golf. If you missed the article here it is in full:
Choice. Most of us are spoilt for it – from where to play golf to what to invest in. As a golf club, you’re just one of many options to choose from. How do you become The Chosen One?
When you opened this page did you first look at the 800 words of text or the images? Chances are you looked at the images first. Had they been out-of-focus or badly framed, you may have made a judgement on the quality of this article and flipped to the next page. And what if there had been no pictures at all?
Why do golfers choose one club over another? Why do you make a specific choice in a restaurant? If it’s a restaurant where there are photographs of the food, there is a better chance you’ll choose the steak if you see a picture of it. Research has shown that photographs of food on a menu are one of the strongest persuaders, and are proven to increase sales. Of course you may also see the person at the next table being served a juicy steak. Either way, you are influenced by seeing the steak, which makes it easier for you to imagine yourself eating it.
The same principle holds true for golf courses.
Selling your course
As Andrew Harris, Director of golf course visualisation company Harris Kalinka (previously HK Golf) puts it: “We are all selling something – whether you’re a club selling memberships and tee times, a course architect selling a design, or a developer selling houses or a big idea to investors.
“Images make our jobs that much easier. I know that as a potential buyer I always prefer to see what I’m buying. That’s why we’ve seen such an increase in our business at Harris Kalinka. People are realising that to compete, they need to show what they’ve got to offer, and they need it to reflect quality.”
When Harris started playing golf, his experience in choosing between local courses reinforced this: “Where I live in the UK, there are 18 courses within a 20-minute drive of my home. When I’m looking for a course to play, my first stop is the course website. I decide where to play largely based on what I see. If there’s nothing to see, I look elsewhere.”
Originally, when Harris Kalinka started creating computer-generated images for golf courses in 2008, their target market was golf course architects. They thought their work would serve the same purpose it did for building architects. However, they soon realised that the potential for their images to be repurposed in the golf industry was far greater. With new buildings, animations are generally useful for selling the original idea, refining designs, getting planning permission and then selling the properties. In golf, animations continue to be a sales tool for years. Their return is potentially far greater.
Take a project the company is currently working on with course architects Thomas Perret & Lobb in Port Harcourt, Nigeria – the Garden City Golf Estate. ARM Properties are not just telling people they’re building a championship golf course with over 700 homes, they’re using images and animations to show people what it will be like to live and play there. And they’re doing it over a year before the estate is due to open (late 2015). This gives them plenty of time to use the images in local and international marketing.
For a new course like Garden City that costs millions to build, the cost of their animations is tiny given the significant returns. And after the launch, Garden City can use the imagery on their own website, for email marketing, smartphone apps, press releases, blog posts and social media.
Polishing your halo
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But the cliché fails to add that if that picture is poor quality, then those thousand words are going to be negative. It’s a classic example of the halo effect: when we see a poor quality image of a course and we assume the course itself is of equal quality. See a professional photo or a high-quality golf course animation and we assume the best.
Harris is by no means advocating that every golf club needs to invest in animations. He believes professional photographs can be as effective. However, “too many clubs seem to forget about the course, and show only a photo or two on their website. They include plenty of information about the clubhouse, club etiquette and what’s on the menu, but they fall down when it comes to presenting the course. The golf course is, after all, what you’re selling. And buyers always want to see what they can get for their money. It needs to look good.”
Harris Kalinka will be at the China Golf Show, at booth number A3139, if you would like to talk to Andrew about showing your golf course.