I’ve mentioned this before, but as a professional blogger, I do a lot of ghost blogging for travel agents. As a result, I get an inside scoop of what’s working and what’s not in the travel industry. My clients are always coming up with new and exciting ways to book more travel, and learning how to sell travel packages using major sporting events is a match made in sports-fan heaven.
7 tips for how to sell travel packages using sporting events
Below I share seven tips you can use in any sport to create dream travel packages centered around “the big game” or “main event” that will have you booking more clients of your own.
Don’t sell the travel, sell the experience of being at the main event.
Try to offer activities that aren’t open to the general public.
Make an annual party out the sporting event.
Focus on more than the sporting event itself.
Plan as far ahead of time as possible.
Add in extras that enhance the package, and show you care.
Partner with other sports travel providers.
Now that you know the seven tips, let’s break them down further to help you get on the fast track to selling as many packages as possible!
1. Don’t sell the travel — sell the experience of being at the main event
I talked about this extensively in this post, but your goal should never be to sell travel. Why? Because people don’t actually buy travel. What they really buy is the experience they are about to have.
If you want to use sporting events to sell travel packages, you need to focus on the experience your clients will have being at the game or main event.
For example, when tickets for the Indianapolis 500 go on sale, the race itself is actually an afterthought in terms of the advertising. Take a look at an ad that the race posted to YouTube.
Sure, the video opens with a shot of the racetrack, but then it quickly shifts to the activities surrounding the event. We see shots of a run, a band playing music, hundreds of people going into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, large crowds at concerts, balloons being released into the air, and fireworks. There are shots of race car drivers getting into their cars, and there is some nice B-roll of a race, but the focus of the video is how exciting being at the Speedway is.
And that is the key to selling your sports travel packages. Your clients should be so afraid of missing the main event and everything that comes with it, that they can’t help but book their trip to get to the destination that is hosting it.
2. Try to offer activities that aren’t open to the general public
I’ll be the first to admit that this tip will be easier said than done. However, it’s not impossible with a little planning.
Picture this: You’re offering a sports travel package to the Kentucky Derby, but your package comes with more than just the horse race. It also features a special tour of Churchill Downs, complete with a meet and greet with some of the jockeys who will be in the race. This is something not everyone gets to do. So, if you can offer something like this, you’re more likely to sell more travel packages simply because of the exclusivity factor.
Or, let’s say you’re selling packages to the Masters Golf Tournament. What if your package included a day of golf on a course that normally doesn’t allow the general public to play?
How can you make that happen? Find a members-only club, and pitch them with a “day of play” idea. If you don’t ask, it’s a “no.” But, what if they said yes? How cool would that be for your clients?
Bottom line: Consider the sporting event you want to sell travel packages for, and think about the perks you could offer that aren’t available to the average person searching travel information online.
Who’s to say you can’t come up with an exclusive offer of your own? And, if you can’t find anyone willing to work with you, rent a room somewhere and host an event yourself.
3. Make an annual party out of the sporting event
Monique Brigham, owner of Plumeria Breezes Travel, wanted to use sporting events to sell travel packages, but instead of using the city that was hosting the Super Bowl for her package, she actually created a watch-party package at a fun all-inclusive resort in Cancun, Mexico. It’s been so successful, that in 2019 she will host her fourth annual watch-party weekend.
Each year, Brigham hosts her get-together at a different all-inclusive resort in Cancun. The weekend features several activities, and culminates with an epic Super Bowl watch party that you’ll never forget.
How do I know you’ll never forget it? I went to her second annual Super Bowl party in Cancun at the Now Jade Resort. It was one of the coolest weekends I’ve ever experienced, and it made me want to book even more travel!
That gives Brigham the chance to sell to the same people who attended the previous year. And, talk about a wonderful way to get referrals and testimonials. People who attend love sharing their pictures from the weekend. And the more they share, the more chances for people to learn about Plumeria Breezes Travel, and all of her travel packages that are available.
4. Focus on more than the sporting event itself
While attending the race, game or match is the main event for your customers, that can’t be the only focus if you want to use major sporting events to sell travel packages. So what else do you focus on?
- The days before and after the event, and the activities one can do in the city hosting the event
- The museums, restaurants, sights and entertainment of the host city
- The fun parties leading up to the event, and the relaxation that can be experienced in the days after it ends
People want to see the big event, sure. But, they also want the fun to last more than one day.
Let’s say you’re selling travel packages for the Stanley Cup. Your main focus is on hockey. However, don’t forget about the tailgate parties, the local concerts, and the other exciting activities most cities host to get the fans excited about being in that destination.
Maybe your package could include a day of sightseeing, a visit to a local museum and art gallery, and a private dining experience with a popular chef at one of the city’s restaurants. Or depending on the type of clientele you’re serving, you could make the time after the game include spa and shopping days, or cooking lessons and wine tastings.
5. Plan as far ahead of time as possible
When it comes to lodging, most hotels won’t allow you to book more than a year in advance. For transportation, it’s typically even less than that. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning your sporting packages before rooms and flights are available.
Start thinking as early as possible about the game day, and all of the offerings you can include in your travel package.
One thing you could do is call hotels and ask to book a block of rooms. Of course, the problem here is you might have to put some money down, or put a credit card on file, but imagine being the only agent who has rooms available in the city of the big game because you reserved them in advance.
In addition to the rooms, start making calls and connections for what you can offer for your travel package. Of the tips given above, which ones would resonate with your ideal clients? The sooner you can get vendors on board with the activities you want to include in your package, the better. And, the more likely they will be to say yes because they want guaranteed income come game day.
Remember, when it comes to big sporting events like the Belmont Stakes, the World Series or the Super Bowl, things move quickly. Rooms book up, flights sell out and getting your clients taken care of becomes more difficult.
When people want to attend something, the last thing they want is for it to sell out before they can get their ticket. Therefore, as soon as you can put your package together, hit the ground running to sell it out as quickly as you can.
6. Add in extras that enhance the package, and show you care
The smallest things can go a long way to show your clients you care. When they are spending as much as they are on a travel package, anything you can offer that makes them feel as though they are getting preferential treatment could be the key to transforming them from customer to loyal fan of your travel agency.
For example, at that Super Bowl watch party I went to in Cancun, Plumeria Breezes Travel gave each attendee a gift bag upon arrival that contained a custom shirt and fun novelty items for us to enjoy during our stay. It certainly gave me all the warm fuzzies, and I know it pleased the other people in our group as well.
Here are just a few ideas for additional things you can offer to your clients to enhance the sports travel package you sell:
- Email them an update of the local weather in the destination they will be visiting.
- Share stats and stories related to the sport or event they are coming to see.
- Send a suggested packing list, and a copy of the itinerary for their trip. If they don’t have a concrete itinerary, send them a suggested itinerary, and/or a list of restaurants, entertainment venues and events going on in the area.
- Order a bottle of champagne and have it waiting on ice in their hotel room.
Before they leave for the trip, mail them a goodie box of travel essentials such as sunglasses, an eye mask, a blow-up neck pillow and earbuds.
- Secure some coupons they can use while on their trip, such as Lyft or Uber discounts, a percentage off admission at local venues, or a free appetizer or glass of wine at a local restaurant.
- Include transportation to and from the airport to the hotel.
- Have the staff at the hotel bring them room service one night, or leave a treat you mailed ahead of time in their room.
Keep in mind that if you add extras that have costs attached to them, you can always add those to your final travel package fee. After all, you are doing them the service of putting everything together on their behalf, so don’t feel like you need to eat your profits in order to give them the extras.
7. Partner with other sports travel providers
You might find that there are things you want to include in your travel package you simply don’t have access to. That’s where partnering with other sports travel providers comes in.
Just one example of a company you could partner with is Primesport. They offer ticket packages for sporting events like the Rose Bowl, Daytona 500, Super Bowl and Kentucky Derby. They also have an affiliate program that would allow you to make money for every sale you help them achieve.
Some of their packages include tickets to the big game, hotel rooms and exclusive welcome events and parties. If you want to figure out how to sell travel packages using major sporting events, but are struggling to include everything you know your customers will want, working with a partner could help you complete your package with ease.
Again, once you start thinking about the games you want to sell packages for, start researching who you could work with, and how you could provide the best package possible for your clients. The sports tourism industry is estimated to be worth $800 billion globally. Isn’t it time you get a piece of that pie?
How to talk about events when you’re selling sports travel packages
I’ll close with a word of caution on using the names of big sporting events for commercial purposes, such as using sporting events to sell travel. In this post, I referenced many of the events by name. According to NOLO.com “By law, you need not request permission to use a trademark belonging to another if it is for an editorial or informational use.”
As this post is completely informational, and editorial in nature, technically I am allowed to use the trademarked names.
The hard way: Reach out and ask the companies that own the trademarks for permission to use their names. They might give you permission to do so. Then again, they might respond with a no, if they even respond at all.
That’s one reason why working with travel partners is so helpful — they have typically done the heavy lifting for you. But, to call your overall package a “Super Bowl Travel Package” or the “Kentucky Derby Experience” could still get you in hot water.
The easy, and probably better way: Come up with a name that is catchy and/or explanatory without using the trademarked name. For example, the watch party Plumeria Breezes Travel hosted is not called a Super Bowl event. It’s called Touchdown in Cancun. This allows her to sell the package and promote it without ever infringing on the trademark.
For a Kentucky Derby race, perhaps your package could be called Horsin’ Around Kentucky. A Masters package could be Golfer’s Getaway. Just because you can’t use the name, doesn’t mean people won’t catch on to exactly what you’re selling if you make it clear in your copy what you’re promoting. You just have to be a little more creative, and you should be just fine.