9 Sports Tourism Trends to Watch in 2019

By Dawn Reiss, January 28, 2019

6. Social cues.

Platforms with immediate commentary and short video snippets—YouTube, Twitter and Instagram—are all doing well, Hamm says.

But the latter two social networks seem to be the most popular. Create separate content for separate audiences. “Twitter is a space for us to engage with our community and keep in tune with what’s going on in our city,” says Logan about its @Columbus_Sports account. The Columbus commission uses Instagram to showcase behind-the-scene views of its personalities—both athletes and staffers—as well as venues, attractions, sports merchandise and events.

7. Create a trifecta.

There’s a continued push for big festival-like events. Why? Longer stays mean bigger spends. “Hospitality, entertainment and sports are all similar businesses and understanding how these components intertwine is key for the longest spend,” Hamm says.

Combining these three elements creates an in-depth experience. Consider how the NHL made the Washington Capitals’ Stanley Cup victory a multi-dimensional event, Hamm says, with pre-performance shows and local businesses offering food and beverage deals with highly visible signage.

8. Big TID movers.

Tourism Improvement Districts are changing the game of sports tourism. “Competition is fierce and TIDs and state incentives are becoming more common,” Logan says.

Oklahoma and Texas both opened the door for TIDs in the past year. Cities in those two states will be big movers in this area when it comes to building tournament-ready sports facilities, Schmieder says. Look for other states like Wisconsin and Illinois to potentially follow. Ohio and Missouri have already passed “super funds” like Texas.

Hamm’s advice: “It’s wise for destinations to make sure they’re telling their entire story regarding why their destination is so attractive and where tourists should be spending their money.”

9. Changes in hotel bookings.

Third-party commission is always top of mind. With the numbers going down and hotels not wanting to pay as much to third parties, the sports tourism industry is watching to see if they go direct.

Some housing companies might prefer to work with hotels that will agree to pay the full 10 percent commission, but often times with larger tournaments there is no choice, Partain says.

“I hope we do not see is a rise in rebates to compensate,” he says. “This only hurts the sports themselves, and the families that participate. It also creates situations where hotels will refuse to participate, which will lead to more lost business opportunities for destinations. We have experienced some of these challenges since the commission adjustment.”

Look for technology’s role in how hotels are booked to have a bigger impact, Schmieder predicts, as the industry moves away from a high touch customer service model to a more automated, trackable, affordable version in the future.

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