To many golf is more than a sport; it’s a lifestyle. For Ty DeLavallade, it was a more than a lifestyle, but a calling.
After being laid off during a former career in sales, DeLavallade decided to turn what he had been doing for his friends for free, into a profitable business. Of 1,800 golf tour operators worldwide, Golf Quests, Inc. is the first and only black owned enterprise, according to DeLavallade. Blazing the trail for others interested in this industry, he is an exhibitor and advocate for the annual Black Enterprise Pepsi Golf and Tennis Challenge, which takes this Labor Day Weekend at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami, not too far from his company’s headquarters in Orlando.
Three years in, DeLavallade continues to build and expand his Golf Quests, Inc. as one of the premier golf tourism companies in the world. In addition to his initial My Golf Concierge website, he has launched two more sites, is managing a 30 Unit Villa in the Caribbean, and much more.
Black Enterprise caught up with DeLavallade to get an update on his business and why he is encouraging his others to attend the Golf and Tennis Challenge.
BE: Why and how did you start Golf Quests, Inc.?
First, I was laid off, which was a shock after being a top educational sales representative in the Maryland Area. Next, my wife and I decided to relocate our family to Orlando, Florida, start fresh and enjoy the palm trees and the new south. Finding jobs in a new city was tough, because most of my connections were in Maryland. It was not that I had a lack of skills, but the dearth of connections I had in Florida hindered me from landing positions. Getting weary of the job search and with the support of my wonderful wife I decided to start My Golf Concierge. The concept of a golf travel company was not new to the industry, but it was new for African Americans. Over the years, I have been helping my friends with their golf travel arrangements and organizing golf events, so I looked into turning my talents and passion into a new career. I took my commission check for $65,000 and started the business in December of 2009.
BE: You have three companies under the GolfQuests.com umbrella; www.mygolfconcierge.net, golftripsnow.com, and girlfriendsgolfgetaway.com. What is the purpose of each site?
My Golf Concierge is an upscale travel site that one can consider a travel agency for golfers. We do corporate and personal travel and golf event planning. Under My Golf Concierge, we also manage a collection of 30 one-, two-, and three-bedroom luxury villas in the Dominican Republic in a complex called Los Altos Club at Casa de Campo. We manage their marketing efforts and are the fulfillment center for all of their reservations for golf travel. They brought us on because they needed someone who has access to golf travelers throughout the Caribbean, the United States, Canada and England.
Golf Trips Now is a group deals site for golf travelers. It allows golfers to buy a golf trip without having to lock in the actual dates. Typically you would have to tell me that you are leaving and returning on a certain date, but with Golf Trips Now, you can purchase a deal during a certain time period and use it at anytime. It is similar to Groupon Getaways and Living Social Escapes, though since they do not have a lot of golf trips on those sites, people can book trips at our site.
Girlfriends Golf Getaway is the world’s first golf travel website for women. We took it down to redesign it for our one year anniversary, but it should be up by GT2012. For the women, we include wine tasting, spa packages, golf lessons, or whatever they need. Everything with us is customized. We do everything from flight, villa rentals, tee times, and we can bring in cigars or wine. We can make it as customized as they want or as simple as they need.
BE: Why do you promote golf as a networking tool to build business?
Most people who you will speak with depending on what line of business they are in say golf is a great way to meet with a potential client or broker. The reason it is a great networking tool is that if you go have a cocktail or coffee with someone, it will last for a half hour to 45 minutes. If you go play golf that is close to 5 ½ hours of one-on-one time you have with that person.
Whether you are a lawyer bringing on a client or if you are a senior vice president of sales and you are taking out a potential client that has a new product you want to be able to offer or sell, you have a ample time to learn about what they do and vice versa. Further, you may be able to better understand that individual because golf tells you what type of person you are, in your business and personal life.
Even if you go play golf by yourself you can end up getting paired up with the senior vice president of marketing or sales or the president or any person in the world. You never know until you say, “What keeps you busy?”
BE: Why are you encouraging people to attend the Pepsi Golf and Tennis Challenge this year?
I believe Black Enterprise has created a great opportunity for folks to come to a great city and relax, network and have a great time. I have spoken to people who have met their new spouse or husband and I have met others who have met their new business partner. You may meet people in the same sorority, fraternity, school or organization you are involved with as well.
The great thing about the Golf and Tennis Challenge is you never know who you will get paired up with, unless you’ve been there four years like me. I think it’s the best event for African Americans to go to annually that will connect people from all walks of life from different industries. Who you end up sitting next to may change your life.
Join game-changing professionals and entrepreneurs for a weekend of networking and fun in the sun at the Black Enterprise/Pepsi Golf & Tennis Challenge in Miami, FL, at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa, Aug. 30 – Sept. 3, 2012. Register now and enter discount code DGT13 to receive $100 off between now and August 24, 2012. (Cannot be combined with other offers.) Whether you want to relax at the spa, lay by the pool, play all day or be wined and dined, it’s “hotter in Miami” this Labor Day Weekend. Select your package now at blackenterprise.com/gt. Search #GT2012 on Twitter for Updates!