I’ve been to a lot of sports travel ‘big games’, mostly football (soccer) matches around the world. A lot of times they’ve been between two teams with a deep-rooted rivalry – like Liverpool vs Everton.
I luckily snagged tickets to this derby of derby’s last year and invited my Dad from Canada to join me, courtesy of about twelve hours of flying, a long train and an apartment rental.
My brother, John goes on yearly sports trips around North America to quench his basketball fix; meeting his best mate Nick outside various arenas from Phoenix to Boston. Always making sure they sit courtside to ensure the best experience.
Huge sums of money are dropped on sports trips too; passion somehow tends to overtake reasoning when it comes to cost and budgeting. I’ve seen tickets bought and sold for thousands of dollars just for the chance to sit within meters of said favourite team while they slog it out for victory on the pitch.
So, the question in title being, is sports travel getting enough of the travel industry’s attention? Not in my view.
Yes, there are a few wholesalers out there who sell package deals to big games that include hotel, match tickets with ‘hospitality’ and perhaps a stadium tour. While this might be a great idea for maybe 10% of the market, it’s not what 90% of fans really want.
They want to catch the train to the grounds with the rest of the fans, they want to sing songs in the pub across the road and they want to get involved just as much as the next punter that lives around the corner.
I’m not trying to pigeon-hole the entire travel community here either, I’m sure there are plenty of sports travel experts out there who can wave their wand and make some tickets, advice and a supporters scarf appear, but I honestly feel that these agents are speaking from experience – they’ve done it themselves.
So how do we change this?
Famils? (I’ll volunteer)
Marketing? (too hard basket)
I’d love to see an industry platform that any Travel Agent could access, one that’s more information focused – rather than booking related. Something where you could see league schedules from around the world (NBA, NHL, FIFA, NFL, etc), where you could narrow it down to one team’s information, a quick guide on when tickets are released, their prices and how to buy them.
It could also then direct the Travel Agent towards a wholesaler that may be able to help – or if not, how to do it independently – for a booking fee of course.
I applaud the Keith Prowse Group – probably Australia’s largest sports travel wholesalers – for introducing their new offshoot US Sports Tickets. I haven’t booked anything through it yet, but it looks pretty spiffy to say the least.
A quick search on their website reveals a bevy of North American leagues with tickets up-for-grabs, just the tickets! No need to book the hotel or hospo package.
After a quick scan I managed to navigate to the UFC 200 coming up in July, being held in Las Vegas. If anyone has a spare $1150 – $29,500 handy they can snatch up a seat from the nosebleeds to the splash zone ringside. It seems that their system seamlessly ties into the big touts main sites – like Ticket Master.
All it takes for retail agents to take care of these passionate, cashed up customers is a little initiative and perhaps some local marketing. The other great thing about booking sports trips is that they tend to travel in packs. Two informed clients can turn into twenty overnight – and we all love a group booking.
If anyone thinks my website idea is a winner and you’re good at websites and that – send me an email!
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