It seems like the Italian golf clubs and resorts are gradually becoming part of the well-known networks. Most recently the Villaverde Hotel & Resort has joined the exclusive European Tour Properties network, becoming the 26th European Tour Destination (the 19th in Europe).
The Villaverde Hotel & Resort is the 3rd Italian, European Tour Destination (Verdura Resort joined in January 2017, Marco Simone Golf & Country Club the host venue of the 2022 Ryder Cup joined in 2016).
The resort is situated in Udine in northern Italy is home to Golf Club Udine. It is 120 km from Venice and 55 km from Trieste (with an airport).
Key facts of Villaverde Hotel & Resort and its golf course:
- The golf course was first established in 1972.
- Design: Marco Croze & John Harris
- They expanded the original 9 hole course to 18 holes. The Par 72 course plays 6,980-yards and has more than 7,000 trees lining the fairways.
- Host venue of the Senior Italian Open for the last two years.
- Became also a venue on the Alps Tour circuit.
- The Golf Club Udine has been awarded both GEO certification, up until 2018, and Italian Gold Federation “Impegnati nel Verde” certification.
- Between 2013-2017 significant work has been carried out on the ground, after the acquisition of the Udine Golf Club by Gabriele Lualdi (on the right side in the picture below). This has resulted in a championship golf course.
- Offers 33 double rooms, a top class Wellness Centre with spa, two restaurants and meeting and medical facilities.
Although I am very impressed by the services of Villaverde Hotel & Resort, I think they could serve much better the so-called connected customers. In 2018, Wi-Fi in all areas is the minimum if a golf resort is accepting the mobile-first attitude.
I miss the following services:
- Online tee-time booking. Don’t tell anymore to a golfer to go to the reception to book tee-time if you don’t want to lose him/her!!!
- I can only hope that their golf cart has got a GPS navigation system.
- Live chat service on every page of their website could help improving online booking and relying less on OTAs.
- Mobile companion services (e.g. Hilton’s Digital Keys; James Hotels’ James Pocket Assistant, Troon mobile application): check-in and out, food ordering, tee-time booking etc.
- To be able to attract more guests it would be beneficial to define the STORY of the resort. E.g. The most well-being oriented golf resort.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of social proof to attract and convince customers, especially in a country that is not among the top of mind golf destinations among golf travelers.
For instance, they have got 176 reviews, and an average score of 9.3 (out of 10) on Leadingcourses.com. They should highlight it, but also their other review site profiles on their website (e.g. Tripadvisor, 1Golf.eu etc.).
I am sure that the European Tour Destination membership will be just for the benefit of Villaverde Hotel & Resort.
Meanwhile, I can see a decline since 2012 in the number of registered Italian golfers, from 101,817 to 90,259. The Italians are not sitting on their laurels to grow the inbound, international golf tourism.
They launched Italy Golf & More campaign in 2016, the first pan-Italian international promotional golf project. The number of rounds played by international golfers rose by 200,000 between 2014 and 2017.