Our Serve: The Growing Sports Travel Market
In April, I had the chance to attend the NASC Sports Event Symposium, held in Hartford, Conn. The National Association of Sports Commissions was founded in 1992 and represents more than 550 organizations. Members include cities, sports commissions, convention & visitors bureaus, sports event owners, and vendors and suppliers to the sports event industry.
The one thing that struck me immediately when I walked into the Hartford Convention Center was how upbeat everyone was. The sports travel industry has been doing well for years, and in fact has been growing even through the economic problems that have plagued everyone else. The phrase “recession-proof industry” was knocked around more than a few times in the NASC exhibit hall and in presentations.
Among the exhibitors at the NASC Symposium were about 75 event owners, covering everything from cycling to field hockey to soccer, fencing, bowling, volleyball, football and more, including the U.S. Olympic Committee. Tennis, unfortunately, wasn’t represented, despite the fact that tennis has competition of all sizes for all levels and ages of players — from kids to students to college players to adults to professionals — in tournament and event formats that can help CVB’s and sports commissions bring in players and consumers to their areas.
While the NASC is about sports participation, that’s not the whole story. NASC members know that most of the time, when one family member travels to play in an event — whether for a day, an overnight, or a week — other family members join in the trip, spending money on food, lodging, sightseeing and more. (In an interesting note, research in the sports travel area shows that when a girl is traveling to play, more family members will go on the road with her than if her male sibling were playing.)
And that, I think, may be one of the messages we might be able to use to boost tennis. Many tennis facilities host events that have a huge economic impact on their areas. Granted, large tennis events require large tennis facilities. But that doesn’t mean your facility, or your public park courts, can’t host appropriately sized events, tournaments and camps that can have a positive economic impact on your business and your community.
If you haven’t done so already, consider connecting with your local convention & visitors bureau, chamber of commerce or local sports commission to see how you can work together. Sometimes just making these groups aware of your facility and that you are willing to host events can get the ball rolling in a way that will benefit everyone. And you might be surprised at the help you may receive.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.