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A tapestry of red spread out across the TPC River Highlands golf course in Cromwell serves as the welcoming entry to the well-crafted brand experience delivered year after year by the Travelers Championship.
The terms user and customer experience are bandied about by marketers everywhere. Many times, they feel manufactured or contrived, lacking any genuine connection.
It’s refreshing and enlightening when a brand pays off their promise through lasting experiences for decades. Such is the case with the Travelers Championship.
The tournament gives the people of Connecticut a sports “brand” to own, in addition to the Huskies. As surely as the seasons change, the Travelers Championship provides us something to anticipate in summer.
On the business front, playing field and in the arena, Connecticut has always competed with the metropolises of New York City and Boston as the proverbial little brother.
In the world of professional golf, the Travelers Championship owns New England.
Like any great brand, the success achieved didn’t happen overnight. It began with a strong brand foundation backed by a bedrock of corporate commitment, savvy management, and a belief system of doing right for the community through generous charitable contributions.
Anyone who “touches” the Travelers Championship is treated as a guest — from the players, their families and caddies, to the sponsors, volunteers and hundreds of thousands of fans who make the trek to the tourney.
Travelers has delivered a seamless brand experience in hundreds of different ways, both overt and subtle. What it has accomplished is special and keeps getting better as the brand continues to be nurtured and grown year over year.
Fans flocking to see the annual stop of the PGA Tour is nothing new. For years, upwards of 250,000 people came to the former Connecticut Canon GHO golf tournament, which offered a healthy dose of drinking, pure and simple.
The Travelers Championship is on an entirely different planet from a branding perspective. By truly having skin in the game, Travelers has elevated its brand with all stakeholders.
It’s no coincidence that Travelers’ brand promise is: taking care of our customers, communities and each other.
The ubiquitous red umbrella is seen everywhere during tournament week — on tee markers and even floating in the pond that surrounds holes 15, 16 and 17. The challenge is to not have it be “in your face,” and it isn’t.
You’re greeted walking into the tournament by people whose mission is to ensure that you have a great time. Sunscreen, ponchos and cool sunglasses are offered in a basket as though it were Halloween.
That sunscreen comes in handy hanging on my golf bag, all while providing a reinforcement of the Travelers Championship brand experience.
There is also the experience of climbing onto the gigantic Travelers chair for a picture — it spoke to me!
People take notice. Being elevated in stature by the PGA Tour brass is no coincidence. The tournament earned the respect of the players by establishing long-term relationships.
All indicators point to the Travelers Championship retaining elevated status in 2024. Like any brand that’s achieved lofty brand equity status in the minds of consumers, the tournament has earned this position.
With a sponsorship deal that extends to 2030, Travelers has further cemented its place in the consciousness of golf fans throughout Connecticut, the region and golfing world.
Kudos to the Travelers Championship and Travelers for building a brand to last, from which we all benefit.
Bill Field is the founder of FieldActivate, a Connecticut-based marketing firm.
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