Valentino Macor

There isn't much about the sport of golf that Italy native Valentino Macor doesn't love. As a professional golfer for nearly 30 years, he craved the competition as much as the beautiful courses he played on. And, as a golf teacher in Florida, he enjoyed instructing junior golfers, noting that female students were faster learners.

And since retiring from the sport in 1992, he has been booking golf-related vacations as manager for Wyllys Professional Travel, an Ensemble Travel Network member based in Coral Gables, FL.

"I have an advantage in that I have played on some of the greatest golf courses in the world and have taught many people how to play the sport," he says. "I traveled so much when I was playing that it only made sense to sell travel when I retired."

Macor says the greatest courses in the world are in his native continent of Europe, particularly in France and Italy. Although he didn't want to share too many tips when speaking with Home-Based Travel Agent, he did tell us what not to do when selling golf vacations. "If you don't market these trips to women, you will be losing a major portion of business," he says.

Macor says suppliers who target only men when promoting golf vacations are missing out on a major portion of clients—female golfers and families—which is why he recommends the Club Med in Florida as great golf getaway for families.

"I have found that women are better students of the game and really appreciate the sport just as much as men, if not more," he says, noting that about 40 percent of his business is with women golfers and families. "It usually starts out with just the woman, and then when it comes to the financial portion of the trip, the man gets on the phone and winds up tagging along."

Selling Golf Travel

Another growing trend in Macor's niche market is golf cruises, something he says has grown stronger in the past 10 years. On such trips, the cruise lines will provide clubs and other golfing equipment and tour several courses. He says that portion now makes up about 25 percent of his booking as opposed to 10 years ago when it only totaled about 12 to 15 percent.

Macor became a travel agent shortly after he retired and was partners with a brick-and-mortar agency in Florida before it was sold. He teamed up with Wyllys CEO Susan Weissberg and Ensemble Travel Group shortly after. "Ensemble is terrific," he says. "They helped me make the contacts I needed to get started and really make my job a lot easier. They know that we are all in this together."

Macor says Wyllys has two full-time agents, himself and Weissberg, and eight other independent contractors, mostly in the Florida area. Although he says he doesn't usually have the capacity to book lengthy package golf vacations, he is more than willing to accommodate clients looking to visit a handful of courses by using a niche marketer, who in turn offers him a flat rate.

"I didn't get into this to get rich," he says, noting that he also assists his colleagues in the office in setting up Italy itineraries. "I got into this because I love golf." — Joe Pike

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