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Lower Fares Mean More Student Athletes Springing for Break Travel

22 Mar, 2017

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Good News for Cities, Particularly Those with Destination Appeal

If you can get past the image of spring break as a time when students check out of school (and into party mode), it's easy to see why the season-changing vacation is a time of incredibly lucrative travel opportunities – and sports travel is no exception to this rule.

With March Madness – and all its ensuing turnstile-flipping, traveling and ticket sales – in full swing, destinations are bound to be busy. And, according to an article in Travel Weekly, an abundance of reduced fares, coupled with ways to save on lodging and transit while on vacation means this spring break may be one of the biggest yet.

In an analysis of spring break data for 2017, Expedia noted airfares for spring break this year were lower than last year.

What does this mean to the sports market? Quite a bit. With spring tournaments in not just basketball but lacrosse, tennis, softball, baseball, golf, beach volleyball and more, students will be traveling to participate. Lower fares and other incentives means family and friends are more inclined to follow them – particularly when those tournaments take place in enticing destinations. And savvy sports marketers know exactly where those are.

According to the TW article, StudentUniverse's 2017 spring break bookings are up 10 percent year over year, with the most popular destinations being Los Angeles, London, New York, Orlando, Miami, San Juan, Cancun, San Francisco, Madrid, Paris, Seattle, Barcelona, Tokyo and Shanghai. (Fun fact: San Juan was ranked 18th in popularity last year, but this year, rises to the number-six position, meaning Puerto Rico is surging in its appeal.)

In research compiled by online travel agencies (OTAs), top spring break destinations this year also include Las Vegas and Phoenix, as well as some international destinations.

Some previously popular spring break destinations fell out of favor among students – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Last year, Panama City Beach made a concerted effort to crack down on drinking on the beach, and also shortened its bar hours. Instead, it concentrated on its appeal as a family-friendly and sports-friendly destination.

Another attraction for spring travelers, according to an article in Media Post, will be the incentives to use travel and transportation apps. American Express, for example, offers twice the points for paying for Uber using AmEx and offers two free Uber rides from select airports during busy holiday periods.

Media Post adds, “With this large influx in travelers, hospitality and travel brands have an opportunity to harness data to nurture customer loyalty—and this can be achieved by focusing on mobile. In fact, according to Zebra Technologies, 75 percent of travelers are willing to share personal information in exchange for tailored promotions, coupons, priority service or loyalty points.”

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