Perhaps I'm overly sensitive, but it occurs to me that a lot of attention is paid to girlfriend getaways but not nearly as much to vacations for guys. Although there has been some industry buzz about "man-cations" (a term that seems, oddly enough, designed to deter such trips—I know of few men who would boast about their upcoming "man-cations"), the girlfriend getaway—with its lush resorts, spa treatments and shopping trips—is clearly a bigger sell for agents.
With football season under way (Go Jets!) and the baseball playoffs and World Series approaching, my mind turned to possible travel scenarios tied to sporting events. One of the best trips I ever took was a long weekend to New Orleans in 2001 with a group of buddies to see the Jets play the Saints. And yet, I look back at that now and think how much better it could have been with the helpful advice of a travel professional with experience in handling groups. All of our arrangements were pretty haphazard, with different flights and connections, a hotel that we overpaid for, and our group scattered around the Super Dome in different seats.
While sports travel packages and Vegas weekends abound on the Internet, home-based agents would be wise to promote some of these trips on their own. An enterprising agent could drum up some business—and a healthy commission—on the cheap by posting flyers in local bars and restaurants offering group deals to road games for local teams. One agent I know here in New York does extremely well every year sending Jet fans down to Miami for winter games against the Dolphins. He actually started this lucrative business by hitting a few bars on football Sundays, passing out a few cards and making friends with the natives. Take a look at your local team's schedule and see what enticing destinations they may be heading to during the season. Think about it: For fans trapped in cold-weather cities such as Buffalo, Green Bay and Pittsburgh, a long weekend in Tampa Bay, San Diego or Phoenix could be a welcome break.
The Super Bowl is always a destination event, but agents can create packages built around this that don't require trying to book a hotel or score tickets in an overcrowded host city. Vegas has become a mecca for Super Bowl weekend trips (where clients can legally bet on the game as well), and as my colleague here at Home-Based Travel Agent Joe Pike tells me, the Caribbean is also promoting weekend getaways for the big game.
Once you start thinking about sports travel, the possibilities are endless. Beyond playoffs and championships in the four major league sports, there are NASCAR events, Triple Crown horse races, college basketball's March Madness...the list goes on. Agents who promote themselves as specialists in sports travel can build a solid client base of men—as well as women and families—looking for unique getaways.
But one word of advice: Don't call them "man-cations."
Michael Browne Managing Editor [email protected] 212-895-8251