Why travel is vital to the post-pandemic mega event experience
November 18, 2022
This is piece of content is part of an iSportConnect series based on the key themes emerging around the future of mega events as the FIFA World Cup in Qatar approaches. In this article we speak to ATPI’s Global Head of Commercial for Sports Business, Kevin Perrin, about the importance of travel in fan experience.
The world of sports is more globally interconnected than ever with fans travelling across the globe to see their teams perform at the mightiest of venues against the best teams in the world.
Travel has become increasingly important for mega sports events because spectators must first travel across the world to watch their team qualify, and then they must travel across the country to watch their team advance through the competition in hopes of winning.
Ineffective travel options will significantly worsen the fan experience, making them lose excitement during the tournament and reflect badly on the experience. And what is a sports event without significant passion from the fans?! During major events, fans shouldn’t have to worry about getting there; they should only ever be concerned about their team succeeding.
We sat down with Kevin Perrin, ATPI’s Global Head of Commercial for Sports Business, on the importance of travel for fan experiences at mega events:
The change in travel experience for sports fans
I believe that, prior to the pandemic, sporting events were taken for granted. What changed after the pandemic was that sports fans watched their favourite games from their living rooms, witnessing the game being played with no spectators, and it just felt wrong or off-kilter.
This, in my opinion, created pent-up demand for people to go see their favourite sport live, with large crowds, in order to be a part of the excitement and happening…again. We were also in a good position to see how eager people were to get back on the road after nearly two years of confinement. As a result, it is no surprise that Sports Tourism is one of the most rapidly growing tourism products.
Aside from the obvious effects of the pandemic on the supply chain, human resource challenges, and global travel restrictions, the global demographics are changing.
What I mean is that a new generation is reshaping the travel industry in terms of what they want and how they buy. This new Generation Z is not afraid to express (or post) their preferences, and it is forcing the industry to reconsider their service delivery, products, and destinations.
They have enormous purchasing power and will travel to any location to see or experience their favourite sporting event. They are also aware of the types of offerings available, and they are not afraid to purchase worry-free, best-in-class, first-class products as long as they receive what is due.
The importance of the travel experience for sports fans
It is key! You will not achieve what you set out to do for your client if you put in so much effort to customise their programmes, make sure they have the best experience possible by obtaining the events they want to attend, in the area of a venue they desire, but you get it all wrong to get them there.
You must ensure that you book the best possible route and try to make their travel experience as enjoyable as possible, within the parameters you can control, so that they are in the right mindset when they arrive at their final destination to enjoy the reason they travelled in the first place.
The importance of seamless, stress-free travel to sports fans
It is, in my opinion, the most important.
Travel is an emotional experience. We often hear about terrifying experiences, but we rarely hear about wonderful ones.
There are many factors that go into planning a trip, and the result is having your bum in a stadium seat cheering on your favourite team or athlete. However, the fundamental elements that must occur for you to sit in that seat are critical.