Hilton Head spotlighted in U.S. Airways magazine travel spread

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Hilton Head spotlighted in U.S. Airways magazine travel spread

Local golf community puts best foot 'fore-ward'
By GRANT MARTIN
gmartin@islandpacket.com
Published Monday, April 2, 2012   |  581 Words  |  

For the second time in four months, U.S. Airways Magazine is spotlighting a sector of the local business community.

This time, the magazine's April issue is promoting Hilton Head Island and Bluffton as a golf destination, showcasing several courses and affiliated businesses in a 28-page spread.

In December, the local artistic and cultural scene received similar treatment.

The Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce -- through the S.C. Matching Grant Program -- subsidized a portion of the cost each of the featured businesses paid to appear in the magazine, an expense chamber spokeswoman Charlie Clark said was a good investment.

"We love in-flights," she said. "They offer the ultimate captive audience."

Clark added the timing was optimal for the local golf community to receive the exposure.

"We felt the sweet spot for this type of coverage would be April, with the (RBC) Heritage here," she said.

The chamber also helped pay for the previous section, which participating businesses said sparked a surge of interest and demand.

About six million people read each issue, magazine publisher Stephen Mitchem said, adding he chose to feature Hilton Head for reasons beyond its golf courses.

"The area's always had to me this approachable elegance," he said. "I'm looking for unique places that offer a total golf experience, with recreational assets available outside of the courses. That's what our readership is looking for."

He added that the magazine's readership -- generally affluent and willing to spending disposable income on travel -- is an ideal demographic for the businesses that pay to advertise in it.

One such business, the Long Cove Club, is hoping to reap the benefits of its rare attempt to market itself, according to Parker Harrington, its director of communications.

"We don't do a lot of advertising," she said. "But we heard good things about what (the magazine) did for the arts here, and when we saw who else would be featured, we didn't want to miss out on this."

Some of those businesses, such as Sea Pines Resort and Palmetto Dunes, are so renowned for their golf that it reflects well on those that share space in the feature with them, according to Skip James, director of sales and marketing at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa.

"I'd like to market us like those full-service resorts," James said. "This (feature) is a key step we're taking to do that."

Scott Adams, general manager of the Old South Golf Links in Bluffton, said his course has never advertised on such a large stage, but he felt compelled to do so out of solidarity for the local golf community.

"We're stepping into uncharted waters, but we stick together and are in this as a team," he said. "Hopefully, our sales will go up."

Adams doubted the feature would have happened had the upcoming RBC Heritage not secured new sponsors last summer.

"Thank God we didn't lose that tournament," he said.

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