"The next time you visit your alma mater for the homecoming game, play 18 holes at a foundation golf tournament, or hike the Appalachian Trail, you’re not just out for a good time, you’re contributing to the economy!"
It’s officially autumn and that means football! Being from San Diego, I’m a die-hard Chargers fan. If my boys are playing a home game, you’ll probably find me at Qualcomm Stadium. If they’re away, I’m in my den with a few friends watching on the tube (tube — now there’s an antiquated concept!). And, if I’m traveling, I’ll be in front of the big-screen TV in a sports lounge, business schedule permitting. Football isn’t my only sports passion, though. I’m fortunate that in San Diego I can play golf year ‘round, and when winter hits the Rockies it’s pretty easy to get away for a ski weekend.
Obviously, I am only one of millions and millions of people whose leisure time often centers around sports activities. It makes sense. Professional responsibilities are increasingly more demanding, and wildly cheering on your favorite team – or shooting a few hoops — is a great stress reliever. Work schedules often leave little time for social interaction, and playing on the neighborhood softball team is a great way to build relationships outside of the office. With mom, dad and the kids all going in different directions, parents find that the families that play together, stay together – at least for a few hours at a time – and a camping/hiking/rafting vacation does the trick. The harder we work, the harder we want and need to play.
But sports aren’t just important to individuals. As the fastest growing segment in domestic tourism, the sports travel industry means big dollars to destinations large and small. Professional and collegiate games have long represented tried and true revenue to the towns and cities on their rotation schedule, but it’s the amateur and youth competitions, along with individual sports activities, that are putting relatively unknown destinations on the travel map. One example that comes to mind is Moab, Utah, an incredibly beautiful red rock desert oasis. Known for decades among the wilderness set as the launching point to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Moab catapulted into worldwide recognition when its challenging terrain was discovered by extreme sports enthusiasts in the 1990s. Today considered the mecca of dirt bike and all terrain adventures, Moab has become an outdoor sports paradise supporting new hotels, restaurants and businesses, all of which generate revenue that provides an improved quality of life to the permanent community.
Because of the increased interest and participation in sports, convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs) that have marketed their cities and regions to the business and tourist trades for decades are now dedicating marketing dollars to reaching and serving the sports market. It is estimated that 80% of all domestic CVBs provide dedicated dollars to sports sales and marketing, ranging from supporting one sports sales professional to funding an entire sports commission. It is estimated that 80% of all domestic CVBs provide dedicated dollars to sports sales and marketing, ranging from supporting one sports sales professional to funding an entire sports commission.
Happily, sports organizers – like meeting planners — are now making the local CVB their first point of contact when beginning the site selection process for their next event because of the important benefits the CVB provides, such as detailed information about venues and facilities in their region, leveraging relationships with key officials, possible sports grant programs or other incentives, distribution and management of the request for proposal (RFP),and assistance in creating the bid to be presented to the deciding body. Once a destination is chosen, the CVB kicks it up a notch to assist with housing, volunteers, attendance promotion and media coverage. The result is a win-win-win for the planner, the participant and the community.
So remember, the next time you visit your alma mater for the homecoming game, play 18 holes at a foundation golf tournament, or hike the Appalachian Trail, you’re not just out for a good time, you’re contributing to the economy!