While travel companies may be finding their fortunes uneven lately – the number of travelers who prefer to do it themselves via online discount travel sites is still on the rise – some have succeeded by tapping into a passionate group of local travelers who are willing to spend on behalf of their favorite sports teams.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, the Panthers’ fan club, the Roaring Riot, has helped fans travel to watch their favorite team at away games, and local travel agent Broach Coach makes a point out of making it easy for fans to do so while offering some value-added service that helps it differentiate itself from other, less-local travel services providers.
Tom Broach, owner of Broach Coach, told local news source WSOCTV that he has made it his business to bring Panthers fans to big away games. He recently provided service for 200 fans to travel to Dallas to see their team play, and has also helped nearly two dozen to fly to New York for a Panthers game. Should the Panthers reach this year’s Super Bowl, Broach estimates that between 700 and 1,000 local fans will want to attend and will seek out his services.
Luckily for Broach, the Panthers are currently on a winning streak with a 13-0 record, so their chances of reaching the Super Bowl get better with each game they play. In downtown Charlotte, the team’s successes have been tied to the rising fortunes of local hotels and restaurants. Uptown Charlotte leaders recently told WSOCTV that hotels are full, catering companies are busier than ever and the trickle-down from the team's success is spreading.
"There's so much business. It's impacting everybody,” said Rachel de Bernardo of Queen City Catering. “Every weekend the Panthers are at home, we're booming with them.”
Hotels in Charlotte are hoping to see the boom spreading into January, which is traditionally a slow month for the hotel business. Through this season, hotels have reported being nearly full on game days and room rates have been soaring, and the city’s hotel industry is hoping to reap as much as possible from the Panthers’ success. Riding the teams’ coattails for economic benefit in away games is trickier, however, but a clever business plan is proving fruitful. Broach told WSOCTV that it wasn't always that way, however.
“The community was warm to it, but not hot to it, and that's changed to now,” he said. “You see what's going on in the community. Everybody's a Panthers fan. “Even hundreds of miles away, it is crazy,” he added.