Now more than ever, sports travel enthusiasts are lacing up their sneakers, packing their foam fingers and planning a trip down sports memory lane. Once considered a niche market, the surge in sports tourism shows no signs of stopping. Already a global industry of $1.41 trillion annually, sports tourism is projected to soar to a projected $5.72 trillion by 2021, according to research firm Technavio. Some destinations, though, are just so special that even the most adventurous travelers want to return again and again. Consider that 85% of American travelers surveyed are inclined to vacation somewhere they’ve already visited (USA Today/Cheapflights). Here are some steps sports destinations can take to encourage repeat visits.
Build an emotional attachment
Many locals become loyal customers because guests develop an emotional attachment to spots through amazing experiences they’ve had. Traveling with family and friends to cheer on the home team, seeing little Jenny hit her first home run or catching the perfect wave inherently creates found memories. Visitors are inclined to return to a place filled with good vibes. It is good to thank them for coming, and invite them to relive the memories and create new ones. Event pictures, familiar sights or a well-placed Instagram photo are good ways to conjure up memories. Online remarketing, direct mail (perhaps a post card) and social media outlets are all good ways to conjure up the good times.
Culture and community connections
Destinations that draw us back are often the ones where we feel like we got to know the place or the people. Sports is a universal element in all cultures. Enthusiasts have a natural camaraderie, and forging personal relationships can be a powerful way to share a region’s culture and uniqueness. For example, think of south Louisiana, the “Sportsman’s Paradise.” Locals with knowledge of the area are eager to introduce outsiders to the best hunting and fishing in the region. Connecting with visitors and showing them your appreciation – doing whatever you can to make sure they enjoy themselves – is a great way to create ambassadors for your destination.
Offer up a “bounce back” special or taste of the next trip
Sometimes a sports vacation can be so jammed packed with activities that your visitors don’t have time to explore. Let them know about all the great things your area has to offer while they are in town. This can lead to returns down the road. Many travelers have a fear of missing out (FOMO). Before they leave, assure them you’ll be here waiting for them. Destinations like Walt Disney World frequently offer incentives that are referred to as “bounce back” specials. They are experts at offering discounts to guests while they are still enjoying their vacation. The intent of the discount is to entice guests to come back between specific dates and stay on property, ultimately locking them into another vacation. These offers may be found on flyers, resort TV or as opt-in texts and emails. These same tactics work well to encourage your sports tourists to come back to see the parts of town they missed, or get them signed up for a similar sporting event.
Knowing how to get around and where you’ll have a great meal alleviates some of the stress of travel. But that doesn’t mean your guests are not looking for something new. Certain vacation spots have such a wide range of activities that they can keep guests delighted and surprised during every return visit. Destinations like this are constantly adding new attractions, renovating and reinventing themselves. Some cities even create their own sporting events and tournaments. This broad range of activities and experiences lets vacationers enjoy old favorites, but also try something new.
There are literally hundreds of ways to promote a tourism brand, which is why so many tourism operators get completely overwhelmed developing their marketing strategy. Morgan & Co. works with a variety of tourism brands to help them identify their audience and how to best reach and retain them. Contact us to see how we can help you boost your brand and achieve your goals.