April 6th, 2018 09:12AM
The Gaylord Golf Mecca, the Gaylord Area Convention and Tourism Bureau and the Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City were honored recently with the Governor’s Award for Innovative Tourism Collaboration for marketing efforts that are bringing golfers from Texas to Michigan.
Paul Beachnau, executive director of the Mecca, called the honor fantastic and said the special reward has been in direct feedback from Texas golfers who have made the pilgrimage to the Mecca.
“They tell us that the golf courses in the Gaylord Golf Mecca are nicer than the nicest courses in Dallas,” he said. “I think sometimes we take it for granted. We might be spoiled in Michigan. We always felt we had a great product with great courses, and they confirmed it for us.”
The team of Beachnau, Barry Owens, chairman of the Gaylord bureau and general manager at Treetops Resort, Sandy Mattingly, vice-chair of the bureau and owner at Pine Cone Properties, Doug DeYoung, chairman of the regional airport commission, and Susan Wilcox Olson, principal of Grand Bay Promotions, accepted the award at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Grand Rapids, March 27-29. Kevin Klein, airport manager, was unable to attend the conference but also played a critical role.
The Michigan Travel Commission declared on the award certificate: “Selected for their excellent representation of the spirit of innovation and collaboration in their work to enhance the reputation, quality and value of the Michigan tourism experience,”
Beachnau said it was a great collaborative effort that made it happen.
“We could not have done this by ourselves,” Beachnau said. “For years we have wanted to go into a warm weather market, but we were certainly not going to be able to do it on our own. So when (the airport) came to us, we started six years of hard work. Our team literally went out knocking on doors (in Dallas) and the reaction was ‘who, what?’ Now, they see us at the regional golf show in Dallas and they say ‘you’re that group from Michigan.’”
The six-year effort was highlighted last year with the development of non-stop air service between Dallas/Fort Worth to Traverse City last year, and the new route turned a profit in the first year as Texas golfers made the trip to Michigan. Texas golfers are now third on the list of golfers from other states that visit the Gaylord Golf Mecca, which is a group of 15 courses and 20 partners for lodging in a marketing group created 30 years ago.
“People ask ‘why Dallas?’ and there are several reasons,” Beachnau said. “There is a historical connection through the oil and gas industry. The companies based in Texas have been in Otsego County, which is No. 1 in natural gas production and No. 3 in oil for the state of Michigan. Dallas is the fourth largest golf market in North America as well, and the weather is stifling in the summer. It’s too hot to play golf there. In addition, that area is a great outbound travel market, in the top 10 in the United States. There are a lot of good reasons that market made sense. It really was a perfect match.”