Company Profile: Southern Breeze Golf Tours
Randy Gardner, founder of Southern Breeze Golf Tours, certainly knows the power of the internet.
"The internet sends us 70 percent of our Texas golf business," said Gardner, who has offices in Southlake, Texas, just north of the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
"Most of the other 30 percent represents repeat business and our existing corporate travel base. The idea has taken off so well because few other golf travel-related companies have gone to the efforts that we have in working one-on-one with the player and the courses. In short, if it is not already packaged like, say, the Westin La Cantera Resort or the Woodlands TPC golf packages listed in the travel tour manuals many golf tour companies will not bother with it.
"Being a seasoned Texas golfer, I know that there are excellent top-rated courses all over Texas that definitely warrant play. Simply because there is no resort there does not mean that it cannot be packaged. Besides, most of our golf customers seek variety anyway," Gardner said.
Gardner's list in Texas includes Barton Creek, La Cantera, Canyon Springs, Colo Vista, the Hill Country Resort, The Bandit, Forest Creek, Delaware Springs, Tour 18, Bear Creek Resort, Tapatio Springs, Silverhorn, Circle C Ranch, Lakeway, The Woodlands, The TPC at Las Colinas, Texas Star, Mill Creek and others.
Gardner, who grew up in Fort Worth, spent his college days at the University of Texas-Arlington, as a travel agent.
"My father was looking at an early retirement from his company and suggested that we partner up and open our own travel service," Gardner said. "Southern Breeze Golf Tours was born from the ideas of many of my clients and their desires to play golf when they traveled for business. I had developed these golf packages for my own clientele, but soon we were getting referrals from other outside interests to do their business travel. And they would ask if we could add some golf to the trip."
In the beginning, however, it wasn't easy.
"When we first started talking to golf courses about packages many were totally foreign to the concept," Gardner said. "The courses in the San Antonio market were the most receptive to work with from the beginning. Being the No. 1 tourist destination in Texas, most of them had already experienced working with the tourist industry in one way or another. They really have it together in San Antonio. They understand what the tourist dollar means to them.
"In most of the other markets, the courses were more accustomed to serving their own local markets. In many of those cases, we had to convincingly suggest to them that there was additional business to be cultured from packaging their course to the area visitor intent on finding a good game. Most players, especially those that travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to play golf, want assurances that their tee times will be there. And that airline ticket generally needs to be purchased at least 30 days out in order to get the best fare.
"For this reason, the majority of our courses offered in our programs will provide us with 30-day tee times to allow for such planning. This has proven to be our edge when dealing with the client, as well as, the courses. There are still a few courses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that are not willing to give us a full 30-day tee window (municipals and such) however, we are still allowed in at least one to two weeks before the general public and, in some cases, before the membership when those circumstances apply. It also has not hurt that we are an established travel service capable of delivering what we say," Gardner said.
What's ahead. Sign up more Texas courses, and:
"We are now making reservations for both the Scottsdale-Phoenix area and Tucson," Gardner said. "We have some excellent villa-style accommodations in both cities that allows play at all of the noted courses in both markets. And, we have begun selling California. Currently, our web site is set up on a request basis. We answer back within 24 hours. We are working at creating an automated reservations program with instant confirmation to the player for those already familiar with the courses. However, we continue to realize the importance of a one-on-one relationship with our customer."
Gardner's most popular packages for Texas are the "Play Around" golf packages. "These programs place emphasis on the course selection so that the players may choose when and where they want to play. Many players do not want to start their trip with a nightly resort rate of $200 plus a night. So, we use the Comfort Suites in San Antonio, the Ramadas in Austin and D-FW and the LaQuintas in Houston. This keeps their package within reason so that they can spend more on golf balls, etc," he said.
Gardner says it is a "hoot" to talk to Canadians, when there's a foot of snow on the ground.
"Canadians have to be about the most congenial people on this planet -- even friendlier than Texans. And that is downright friendly. Most are not too versed on tornadoes though. We do have a few here from time to time and during season we advise our players of that possibility. The Canadians feel a bit impervious to tornadoes -- probably because they may have never seen one. I ask them if they have ever seen the Wizard of Oz and jest about what it would be like to be flying back to Canada on your Callaway Big Bertha. We have never lost a Canadian to a tornado down here. At any rate, they would play under any conditions if allowed," he said.
Southern Breeze Golf Tours
Southern Breeze Golf Tours is a division of Gardner Travel Service, Inc., 2101 E. Southlake Blvd. Southlake, Texas 76092
Randy C. Gardner: firstname.lastname@example.org