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The New Adult Travel Sports Market: Post-Divorce, Newly Single and Ready to Spend

26 Jul, 2017

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Youth sports will always have a special place in travel. But one of the niches in the hospitality business is marketing travel to post-divorce individuals. In fact, this phenomenon – the get-away-from-it-all for the just-unmarried – is a big market. So how should event planners be ready to reach the newly single demographic?

According to an article in Travel Weekly, it’s one of the big trends in bucket-list travel. In fact, agents note, newly divorced people in that empty-nest stage of life tend to have bigger budgets to apply to travel, and they lack a spouse to weigh in on how to allocate that budget.

In many cases, individual sports attract this demographic. There is the element of accomplishing a goal, and of doing something that requires physical fitness. This has led to an uptick in lists of bucket-list marathons and triathlons, both of which require travel, and give the newly single person a meaningful use of time. In addition, obstacle course racing is making gains in participation and attracting plenty who like its gritty, independent vibe. It’s another discipline in which training is essential to completion.

A sports event may represent a departure from an individual’s typical behavior and a personal challenge – two more reasons it is one of the more popular outlets for newly single individuals.

According to Travel Weekly, the typical post-divorce travelers are 40- to 50-year-olds, primarily women. In addition, the TW article notes, these groups tend to hit “fun” cities, since often, women are taking trips that have a "girls' getaway vibe." They tend to gravitate toward all-inclusive resorts in Mexico or the Caribbean. One travel agency has also seen a number of ‘start-anew-moons’ in U.S. cities like New Orleans, Las Vegas and New York.

And while there isn’t a demographic on married vs. single athletes, it’s easy to see that 40-50 age group is showing significant growth. USA Triathlon recently noted in an article in SDM, “In terms of age-group participation, members ages 40-49 comprise the largest sector of USA Triathlon’s annual membership at more than 30 percent of the overall membership base.” In addition, the male/female split in triathlon as a whole has grown, with women now comprising 37.64 percent of USA Triathlon’s annual membership.

Many sports events that market to or tend to attract women, including The Color Run and the Divas Running Series, will benefit from this group (as they do from women who are on bachelorette weekends, for that matter). At the same time, though, planners of events in sports such as league-based or club-based tennis, soccer, kickball and more can also tap into the growth. Even golf events are working to bring more women into the fold. In many cases, individuals – women and men – are seeking to recapture the fun they had in sports prior to the responsibilities that came with getting married and raising children.

Because it’s a sensitive subject, thought, travel agents tend to steer away from promoting travel for the newly single, although they do note those trips sometimes arise out of vacations couples had planned on taking while they were still, well, couples. Hiking in the Grand Canyon or completing segments of the Appalachian Trail are both bucket-list opportunities that people don’t want to pass up, married or not.

Another type of post-divorce travel (listen up, planners) is that of a newly single parent taking younger children on an excursion to bond and, in some cases, compete with trips an ex is planning, according to TW. In this case, parents who travel for sports will be looking for fun activities for kids – and maybe even age-appropriate versions of what they’re doing. USA Triathlon offers Splash & Dash events for children, for example, and the Tough Mudder obstacle race has a one-mile Mini Mudder. Many marathons also offer kids’ fun runs and other activities.

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