The global business of sport travel
Adults travel specifically to enjoy destinations where sport is part of the lifestyle – almost a defining characteristic of South Africa.
The 2010 Fifa World Cup transformed international perceptions about travel in South Africa, opening a floodgate for visitors that has hardly abated. In the same way that the tennis championships at Wimbledon are viewed as an aspirational goal for travel, so many world-class events are the prompts that get people booking and packing.
For South African sport lovers, the prospect of international travel can be daunting, particularly when the exchange rate is bobbing and weaving. It makes sense to seek out ways of adding value to your trip.
There are sport tour companies that provide packages to big events, but you can also look to valueadds such as loyalty programmes. Frequent travellers benefit from these.
For example, the world’s biggest hospitality loyalty programme is run by Marriott Rewards, with 100 million members. Elite members spend anything between 25 to 100 bed nights in hotels every year. The programme provides the ability to earn points or miles, free wi-fi, mobile check in and exclusive rates. As one of many such programmes, the benefits to frequent travellers become apparent, especially for brands with a global footprint.
For participants in events and spectators, entrance fees and tickets must be booked way in advance, likewise, accommodation and transport options must be secured. Tour operators may bulk-book these to facilitate ease of access. An added benefit may be additional leisure tours to explore the destination, as it’s not always just about the event itself.
If you’re going to play a sport or watch one, and you’re having to travel internationally or great distances to do so, you can add days onto your trip to enjoy the local experiences or even to set up business meetings to coincide with your stay.
Big events attract huge volumes of spectators, so in order to get the best rates, book early.
• Danny Bryer is area director for sales, Protea Hotels by Marriott
England’s Barmy Army enjoy the atmosphere during Test match in New Zealand.