The global busi­ness of sport travel

African Independent - - THEATRE -

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

PIC­TURE: MARTY MELVILLE / AFP

Eng­land’s Barmy Army en­joy the at­mos­phere dur­ing Test match in New Zealand.

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