This year has started out as a global rollercoaster ride and now that Sand Valley’s season has started, our CEO wanted to share some of his thoughts on when the Scandinavian golfers can come back, how does it look before that happens and how has it been in Sand Valley for the last few months:
How was it for you and your Team when all this started?
It started off as a slow brewing shock and a quick realization that this is not going to be an ordinary season. Thousands of foreigners had already booked their holidays by late February and now the world was coming to a stop. I had to make quick assessments on the situation and then I and my managers went to work, initially from our own homes. Those in our Team who couldn’t work for now simply stayed home and waited. The important thing to note is that all these months we in Sand Valley have stayed as a Team and every week more and more of our Team members are coming back to work – large amounts of Polish families are now starting to visit us and we need our Team to take care of them!
How did it happen, that Poland’s #1 touristic destination that is normally full of Scandinavian golfers is now seeing a fast increase in the number of Polish visitors?
I figured early on in March that there is a big chance that our customers will for now be people who are living in Poland. The only thing we had to figure out was, how do we tell them that we are here? For years it had taken most of our resources to make sure we did our best in catering to the Scandinavian golfer’s needs – after all, over 80% of our turnover was from them. I had a look at our Polish webpage and decided it needed to be rebuilt from the ground up. My conclusion was that our products and information were not up to date and the page also didn’t say what I wanted to tell to the Polish people. I went to work with my Team to rebuild that page, created a new organization structure so that everyone would know what they are to do, launched a marketing plan that wouldn’t require a lot of money and made sure we are able to communicate for the Polish people the following things:
A: Golf is a safe outside sport for the whole family
B: Our Villas are a safe place to stay with your family
C: We have a selection of easy and attractive products for both golfers and non-golfers
D: Our Team is ready and eager to help you and your family to relax during these stressful times
If I look at all this now, I can say we have succeeded – few weeks from today, our new Polish friends have rented all of our Villas – Sand Valley has again a weekend that is FULLY BOOKED! ❤
When it comes to the small amount of Polish golfers who have been travelling the world actively for years I would say like this. They have now finally travelled to us and realized that there is a TOP100 Golf Resort in Poland where our Team will make you feel like you’re abroad. They have realized that you don’t always have to travel to the far ends of the world in order to get a unique golf holiday experience. I believe they will keep coming back to us for years to come.
When do you think Scandinavians can / will return to Sand Valley?
It starts to look that it will happen around August – in stages of course. Many flight connections to Poland are already started in July, but unfortunately, we have also received information that some connections will not come back before March 2021. Many of our clients currently have holidays booked for August – September and our sales Team is in contact with them to react to the ever-changing situation. This has not been easy for anyone to say the least. For me, the most amazing feeling is that many of our old friends are already booking their flights and we will be seeing them soon! We are also starting to get some requests from new clients for 2020 which is amazing! I will be happy if we start to see people from abroad from mid-August onwards – that will be the perfect mix with the new friends we have found from Poland!
Has something changed or will something change as a result of this crisis?
I think everyone who is in our industry and operating a business that relies on foreign flight connections can say that everything has changed due to this crisis. It has been a steep learning curve for me and my Team, but I feel we have come out from the other end stronger than before. That being said, everyone knows this is not over yet. We have been tested and we have learned that if we stick together, we can overcome anything. Outside of our Team, we have also learned that we have a lot of friends both in Poland and abroad and that feels good – as they say, in crisis, you will truly know who your friends are. I decided from very early on in March that whatever we will do as Sand Valley for the Polish market now, can not be done in a “products for the crisis way only”, but those products will have to be available also after the crisis. By doing so, our business will have in the future one more leg to stand on – if things get difficult.
That being said, Sand Valley is a colourful place that needs the complexity of many different nationalities. We can’t wait for all the Scandinavians to come back – VISIT US AGAIN and join the atmosphere, we can’t wait! ❤ 😀
Antti Pohjonen CEO