With the first week of U.S. Open Tennis Championships wrapping up here in New York, it got my mind wandering back to sports tourism, a topic I’ve mentioned on other occasions. I don’t think enough attention is paid to this segment, and agents who ignore it may be missing out on some big dollars. Just looking around New York City this week and seeing the out-of-towners decked out in their I Love NY t-shirts and U.S. Open ballcaps is enough to convince me of the power of marquee sporting events to draw tourists. And seeing the money they’re willing to spend while on vacation was another eye-opener.
It may be something you want to promote next year, if you haven’t in the past. The Open is a singular event, unlike any other U.S. sporting event—it runs for two weeks through Labor Day weekend in New York City with the biggest names in the sport, creating a built-in appeal that other sporting events would find hard to copy. The beauty of the Open is that, unlike most sporting events, it can appeal to the whole family, unlike other male-dominated sports. Many U.S. and international travelers build their summer vacations around the event. It has a built-in fan base that makes it more recession-proof than other types of vacations.
So, think sports and other special events for your clients. There’s still time to find some great packages for the Vancouver Olympics, for example, or European vacations tied in to Wimbledon or the French Open, even trips to South Africa for the World Cup. These are destination sporting events, and there is definitely a market out there for them.