Future Trends of Sports Tourism

Here’s how sports tourism is growing.

Whether it’s traveling to play in a softball tournament with your league, to run a marathon, or to watch your favorite team play football, sports tourism is something most of us will participate in at some point in our lives. It’s a good hobby for participants and spectators, and it’s great for the economy as it generates lots of revenue. Sports tourism is traditional. It’s exciting. It’s not a new craze, but it’s constantly growing, and experts believe its evolution will continue.

1.  Industry Growth

From small-scale baseball leagues to something as large scale as the Olympics, people have always been willing to travel to watch or participate in sports. Although sports tourism is a tradition that’s been around for many years, it is now growing at an even faster pace. Experts believe it will reach record highs and generate more revenue than ever in the near future.   Don Schumacher, executive director of National Association of Sports Commissions, projects that hotel bookings will increase by 3 to 4 percent in 2016 over 2015 as a result of the ongoing rise of sports tourism.

2.  Introduction of Paid Staffing

Competitor Group has been accused of using volunteers as free labor for its for-profit faces and is the target of a pending lawsuit as a result. This could hit a little close to home for many host committees for sporting events. It seems that larger cities may begin paying some that were formerly volunteer positions. This could increase the cost of the events and could possibly change the sports tourism industry for smaller events.

3.  Lacrosse and Pickleball

Lacrosse has become increasingly popular in the younger crowds and active seniors are popularizing pickleball (which can be played on basketball, volleyball or tennis courts). Another sport on the rise is girls’ fast-pitch softball.

4.  Wifi Availability

It’s no secret that free wifi is a crowd-pleaser and even an attraction in itself. Many people will choose their hotel or restaurants based off of the availability of (free) wifi. Experts believe that it will become a staple of events, up there with accessible parking and restrooms.

5.  Improved Relationship with Sponsors

Sponsorships for events should be mutually beneficial. The best relationships with sponsors (and consequently, more funding) will be based on the way a sponsorship garners brand recognition. If it isn’t advantageous to the sponsors, the money probably won’t continue to come in, and the ideal sponsorship develops into an ongoing relationship. In the same way, it’s important that the event and marketing be structured in such a way that will draw sponsors that are a good fit.

6.  Fan Zones Will Grow

It’s not just Olympics or professional leagues; small events are drawing more and more spectatorial travel, and this trend is only expected to keep growing.

7.  Broadening Horizons

Sports departments are no longer sticking to just the traditional sports tourism events. Today, they are venturing into the world of specialty events. After all, planning a festival or a car show requires a very similar skill set as planning a sporting event. This expanded focus will open DMO’s up to generate more revenue.

8.  Eliminating the Need for Transportation

Partnering with a hotel near or even attached to the event location would eliminate the absolute need for transportation, which would make sports tourism more convenient and inexpensive for attendees and participants.

9.  The Rest of the World Following the U.S. Sports Tourism Trends

Where most countries outside of the U.S. have relied on government support, the U.S. has drawn support with local sponsorships.  As government funding disappears worldwide, other countries will soon be taking after the U.S. and finding other places to get support.   For more information about sports tourism, or how you can get your sports complex involved, contact Sports Facilities Advisory today.