Finding a Niche Within a Niche

First there were businessmen teeing off; now there are women looking to the green as a unique take on a girls' getaway. But soon the two worlds will collide, and couples will become an agent's hottest clientele when booking golf vacations.  Bud Rosenbaum bjTee Group 1022 Executive Parkway,  St. Louis, MO 63141 Phone: (314) 275-2400 E-mail: budrosenbaum@charter.net Affiliations: Ensemble Travel Network

Well, at least home-based agent Bud Rosenbaum says so.

After years of playing golf, Rosenbaum, along with Stephanie Turner, CEO of Brentwood Travel in St. Louis, MO, recently set up a joint venture, which they named bjTee Group. He is based out of his home office, but uses Brentwood Travel for backroom support and runs everything through it.

His concept is simple but effective—corporate travel with a popular leisure activity, golf. His business focuses on corporate and group travel, centering around golf and utilizing LPGA Tour players. As far as trips go, bjTee Group has only been around for about six months, so he's only done some small local stuff. But he has bigger plans for trips for the fourth quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2008.

Developing a Niche

His long range goals are to "develop a niche both for ourselves and our client base, and as a source for other agents or agencies who have clients to whom the concept of planning unique golf travel would be of interest."

The most obvious opportunities are for "women's groups and companies whose target customers are women," he says. Another growing concept for which LPGA Tour Players are "superb" is couples' golf travel, he says.

"If you call any green-grass operation or any country club, they will tell you they have difficulty filling up a lot of the men's tournaments, but the ones they never have trouble filling are the couples' tournaments," he says. "I think it has a lot do with the fact that you have more women playing golf than ever before, and more married couples—baby boomers mainly—are retiring and want to spend vacations with each other doing what they love to do."

His company is a member of the Ensemble Travel Network, which he credits with recommending some excellent resorts and cruises for his upscale clientele.

"As far as Ensemble Travel Network is concerned, since we customize our offerings so much, we have utilized their added-value items," Rosenbaum says. "The recognition factor of being an Ensemble Member is of great value to us."

Rosenbaum got involved in the golf business in 1997 when he became part of a group that produced PGA tournaments. He did that for seven years in a couple of cities, and during that time developed friendships with a number of women's tour players. Rosenbaum got involved in golf travel "as a logical extension of some of my 'past lives,'" he says. He's played the sport for more than 50 years and combined his love of the sport with a love of travel, producing a logical business.

"So when our last event ended and we closed the production business, it seemed like a logical idea to combine the corporate contacts and the player contacts with the love of travel," he says.

Rosenbaum is also looking into other niches within the niche. He says there are currently more than 30 Korean born players on the LPGA Tour, and has trips planned featuring Korean Players that he will sell to the Korean American community. "We have Korean graphics and script for promotion purposes, and Korean speaking associates," he says. "This is what we mean by developing 'niche' opportunities.

As far as tips on how to be successful as a home-based agent: "It would be presumptuous of me to give anyone advice in the travel business," Rosenbaum says. "The only comment I would make is one that everyone already knows—it's really tough to be profitable selling general travel today. That's why we feel that developing a niche that offers unique opportunities to group and corporate clients has great potential to us and to individual agents everywhere. By creating unique custom packages...you can realize additional margins and still remain competitive."

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