Often, it’s the destination that inspires people to travel. But sometimes, it’s all about a specific event that they just have to experience. Take it from the 32 million Americans who traveled an average of 900 miles to attend a music festival last year, or the 600,000 out-of-towners who descend on New York for two weeks around Labor Day for the US Open, or the 3.5 million fans who flock to Florida or Arizona for Major League Baseball spring training games in March.
Event-based travel is a hot market. Every travel advisor can benefit from adding events to their trip-planning services, further expanding their ability to help their clients have unforgettable travel experiences - the kind that they’ll tell their grandkids about some day.
When selling event-based travel, which comes first: Do you pitch the event first or do you add events to a trip that you’re already planning for a client? Donna Higinbotham, of Critics Choice Vacations, shared these thoughts: “Almost always, the client will contact me initially to inquire about an event. I then have the opportunity to work with the client and turn one single event into a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“For example, with the sale of Olympic tickets, I not only have the ability to arrange an unbelievable sports experience, but I also have the privilege of introducing the client to the unique culture and amazingly beautiful landscape of Japan. By arranging a traditional tea ceremony or perhaps a Sumo wrestling lesson the client can delve into, and experience first-hand, the heart of Japan. I find that many event-based trips are also celebratory trips - graduation celebration, milestone birthdays or anniversaries - making the once-in-a-lifetime experience that much more important.”
Higinbotham also noted that, “By turning the event into an experience, our agency can showcase our personal services, solidifying the benefits of using a travel consultant.” And that, “events like a Broadway play, a concert, or a local sporting event are great add-ons to any itinerary, enhancing the traveler’s experience and increasing revenue.”
Sporting events tend to top the lists of event-based travel - and, they appeal to groups as well as individuals. Special engagement theatrical or music events are also popular, especially if the events are internationally based, rather than domestic, and if it’s difficult for clients to acquire tickets to the event on their own.
And now, here’s our list of some of the world’s best events to build trips around:
1. The National Football League (NFL) Super Bowl 2020 will be held in South Florida; and Los Angeles will host the Super Bowl 2021. The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) final two games are the Rose Bowl (which is played in Pasadena on New Year's Day); the College Football Playoff National Championship will be played on Jan. 13, 2020, in New Orleans.
2. Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs start on Oct. 3, and locations will be announced as the playoffs progress.
3. Every fall, Broadway welcomes new shows. While classics like “Hamilton,” “The Lion King,” “Phantom of the Opera,” and “Wicked” still pack the house, newcomers include “Glengarry Ross,” “The Rose Tattoo,” “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical,” “West Side Story,” and “Harry Connick, Jr. - A Celebration of Cole Porter.” Holidays shows are also a wonderful way to celebrate the festivities, with performances like, “The Nutcracker,” “Radio City (Rockettes) Christmas Spectacular,” “A Christmas Story,” or “Swan Lake.”
4. Las Vegas residencies play to sell-out crowds, including Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera, Aerosmith, Shania Twain, Gwen Stefani, and Mariah Carey.
5. The National Basketball League (NBA) season begins on Oct. 22; and the 2020 NBA All-Star Game will be played on Feb. 16, 2020, in Chicago, Illinois.
6. The two-week annual Wimbledon tennis tournament is held in Wimbledon, London, during late June and early July. The US Open Tennis Championships draws record crowds in New York City for two weeks at the end of the summer.
7. The Open is the world’s oldest golf tournament, dating back to 1860. It takes place every mid-July, at premier links courses in Scotland, England, and Northern Ireland. The Masters is held the first full week in April, in Augusta, Georgia.
8. The 2020 Summer Olympics will take place from July 24-Aug. 9, 2020, in Tokyo. The whole world watches.
9. At music festivals like Coachella, Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza, eclectic music fans gather to dance and cheer as diverse performers take the stage.
10. The Kentucky Derby is held every year on the first Saturday of May, and this prestigious race is dubbed "the most exciting two minutes in sports."
11. The Indy 500 takes place every year on Memorial Day weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in Speedway, Indiana - and it has been dubbed "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." The Monaco Grand Prix Formula 1 World Championship is set for May 21-24, 2020, in the uber luxurious principality of Monaco on the French Riviera.
Perhaps one or more of these events will pique your clients’ interests. Consider reaching out to them and making a suggestion to do something different this year.
And keep in mind Higinbotham’s parting advice to fellow agents: “Make it an experience, not just an event. And, find dedicated and reliable vendors offering quality events.”
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