Ho Tram, Vietnam: Jed Moore, Managing Director of global golf specialist outfit Performance54, whose partnership with Asian Golf Industry Federation Executive Member Troon delivered the Ho Tram Open, explains what made this event so unique.
AGIF: It was dubbed Asia’s Grandest Stage and with such a dramatic finale, you could hardly have scripted it any better. What’s been the initial reaction to the inaugural Ho Tram Open?
JM: I think when we first embarked on positioning the event we couldn’t have dreamed of a better climax. We had a rich crop of the Asian Tour’s finest players and a global force in Sergio Garcia, who each put on an unbelievable show. Hats off to the guys who showed tremendous guile in the play-off. It could have gone anyone’s way, but to have such a dramatic finale with the first four-man play-off in Asian Tour history was better than we ever hoped.
The reaction across the board has been unanimous and we’ve been overwhelmed by the positive feedback. We tried to create something which, as a golf tournament, looked and felt different, and from the reaction we have had so far I think we have given ourselves a great platform from which to build.
AGIF: Was it always the intention to build a unique event on the Asian golfing calendar by combining ‘golf and entertainment’ so closely?
JM: It was a bold move and one that paid off. The Ho Tram Strip has a pedigree in entertainment, hosting concerts, casino nights and the like, so it was a logical step bringing together the two.
The game of golf is blessed with so many great events, both established and new but we wanted to present something that would distinguish the Ho Tram Open.
For a new market, with many spectators who were attending their first golf event, it was critical that we offered a unique, engaging event experience, and for those who joined us for the gala dinner, the fight night, the concerts and poolside grooves, they were certainly given that.
AGIF: What were the main logistical challenges you faced along the way?
JM: For me there were three key areas that we had to focus on; firstly, delivering first year specs. Everything is new. We had to create a bespoke blueprint, identifying the right supplier partners, the right infrastructure and event identity. Any inaugural event goes through these challenges, which provides a steep learning curve, but all lessons in this phase are valuable.
Secondly, Vietnam is a rapidly evolving golf market and global economic force to boot. Major sports occasions are becoming more common place, but it is still very much in its infancy.
We embarked on a widespread education phase early in the process, demonstrating the value proposition golf affords local businesses across a variety of sectors. The early adopters have demonstrated great insight and will help us grow the event in future years.
Lastly was the requirement to drive footfall to Ho Tram. We offered the general public free access to the on and off-course events and provided free transport from the local hub cities, Ho Chi Minh and Vũng Tàu. This required integrating booking functionality into our online portal and was a central message of our pre-event marketing. Given the footfall we enjoyed, it was one of the real success stories of our week.
AGIF: How would you describe the feedback you’ve received about The Bluffs, a Golf Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation?
JM: There’s no question that The Bluffs provided a striking backdrop for the TV coverage, and that gave the Ho Tram Open standout almost immediately. The visual of 40-foot sand dunes framing pristine fairways and sloping greens, with The Grand Ho Tram hotel and Vietnamese Sea behind that is pretty unique.
The course was a tough test, with the wind playing its part, as we knew it would. The course made the players think and plot their way around, which was great to watch. When you look at the quality of players who were challenging for the title on Sunday afternoon, I think that’s testament to the quality of the test that the golf course provided.
A special mention needs to go out to Ben Styles and the team he has created in not only championing an event of this scale, but delivering a world-class product day-in day-out. We forged a great partnership, which was such a critical factor in the event delivery.
AGIF: Tell us about the partnership between Performance54 and Troon, who are an Executive Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation?
JM: We have created a powerful partnership between Performance54 and Troon in the Asia Pacific region. We have a long-standing working relationship over the past decade and the Ho Tram Open presented the opportunity to align forces and provide a fresh new approach to managing tournaments.
Performance54 is a specialist golf business, made up of three partners, each with a rich pedigree in golf and destination marketing – myself, Gary Davidson and Matt Selby.
Troon’s business has been the outright leader in delivering extensive golf management services to some of the leading golf resorts around the world. This insight and their knowledge of hosting professional tournaments gave us great impetus to progress as a team and successfully deliver the Ho Tram Open.
AGIF: What is the vision for the Ho Tram Open? How can it grow … and what do you have in store for us in 2016?
JM: We will be looking to push the envelope. It’s of paramount importance for us to strive to distinguish the Ho Tram Open. Golf enjoys a rich vein of events throughout the world, which makes it even more competitive. The key for us is ‘Creative Investment’, one thing the ownership group at Asian Coast Development Ltd has championed. It is this innovative spirit that has allowed the Ho Tram Open to set such an impressive benchmark in its first year.
We have enjoyed such great support from our partners, which has allowed us to be progressive in our approach. We look forward to strengthening these ties, elevating the event further still.
I think golf is faced with some great prospects for 2016, along with some real challenges. Events remain a critical part of golf’s marketing sway and the ability to drive tangible returns for investors, but we believe innovation and creativity will stimulate wider interest.
The Ho Tram Open is a pioneer in this area and we plan to come back next year armed with some more excitement, and hopefully an equally exciting climax.