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Traveling Near and Far to March Madness

23 Mar, 2016

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

While people are used to sharing their whereabouts on social media, March Madness presents one of the best opportunities to do just that. And after all, it’s a great way to disguise bragging about their travel destinations (“I’m in Washington State at the Hawaii/Maryland game!”) as a tweet (“Aloha from @SpokaneArena - Let’s do this, @HawaiiMBB”)

So in terms of travel and fan following, which teams will be traveling the greatest distances this March and making the most of the social media game? An article in CBS Sports broke this down. And not unexpectedly, Hawaii came away as the highest-mileage team (a very impressive 2,886 miles to Spokane, with Maryland traveling 2,480 to the same arena). This was followed by Arizona (2,597 miles to Providence) and USC (2,539 miles to Raleigh).

Of course, some teams didn’t need to get on a plane at all. North Carolina’s trip was a total of 22 miles to Raleigh and Oklahoma went a whopping 24 miles to Oklahoma City. Temple and Villanova went 100 and 106 miles to Brooklyn. Yale traveled 103 miles to Providence in order to bust brackets nationwide.

And according to TravelPulse, the ability of following a team to a game (or more than one game) is a significant bucket list item. This year, the 13 host cities from the first round through the Final Four include underrated destinations like Providence, Rhode Island and Spokane, Washington, as well as some beloved favorites including Brooklyn, Chicago, Philadelphia and Houston.

And there’s another aspect to it. Travel to March Madness destinations – and the rise of the social media check-in – has all but destroyed the picture postcard industry, although souvenir shops generally do keep at least a rack of them, just in case. And now, of course, the rise of the e-postcard has made the industry struggle even more.

A recent poll by O2 Travel showed more than half of people under the age of 24 said they would never even consider sending a postcard. “When I was younger, I always used to send postcards but it’s a real hassle,” said Fionn Concannon, co-founder and chief executive of Ps Postcards, an iPhone app that allows you to send postcards via your mobile phone. “We don’t have a lot of time anymore and when we do have that time off, the last thing we want to do is go traipsing around looking for stamps to go with it and a mailbox to send it from.” (The app lets users take a photograph or choose from a gallery to send postcards to friends and family.)

Plenty of teams feed into the social media industry, and March presents the perfect opportunity. An article in EverTrue rated the top teams in terms of social media presence. Michigan State, University of Kentucky and Duke University were all heavy hitters, but it was University of Wisconsin who won that particular tournament. By the numbers, the badger institution had more than 200,000 followers on multiple Twitter accounts, 228,000 Likes on Facebook , 55,000 followers on Instagram, and more than 300,000 subscribers and 1.8 million views on YouTube.

And even for those who aren’t traveling more than a few miles from home to watch the game at the local sports bar, the hospitality scene is building in its own travel – after a fashion. Buffalo Wild Wings is throwing in a free Uber ride for those who come to B-Dubs and toss back a few too many during the games.

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