The first-ever Sports Travel Forum in Washington, D.C., November 14-15, 2018, welcomed more than 100 attendees representing professional sports teams, sports commissions, venues, lodging, destinations and entertainment. The event hosted outstanding discussions on the topic that is growing in relevance across the country—the intersection of travel and sports.

Key Takeaways Include:

  • Global sports fans = new international travelers. The NBA has been building its presence in China for many years. This generates new players and fans abroad who want to visit the U.S. and see their favorite athletes. A good example: The large contingent of Chinese fans who traveled to witness Kobe Bryant’s last professional game.
  • New arenas create new attractions.Sports facilities can transform overlooked neighborhoods into destination attractions. Before the opening of Nationals Park or Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., there was little reason for travelers to visit those neighborhoods. Now, they are the fastest-developing neighborhoods in D.C.—another great reason for teams and travel leaders to partner together. 
  • Sports draw a different kind of visitor.  Sports attract new people to new destinations. Places like Las Vegas, Nevada, haven’t had the opportunity to draw sports fans on a regular basis. They do now with the opening of T-Mobile Arena and, soon, the new Raiders stadium. Travel leaders are also leveraging new arenas to create more reasons for meeting planners to book conferences and trade shows in their destinations. 
  • The future is evolving. We cannot underestimate the impact of the eSports phenomenon and gaming technologies on traditional sports viewership and participation—and even how elite athletes take performance training to new levels. Download Delaware North’s report, Future of Sports, for a deeper look into the changing landscape of the sports industry. 

Sports franchises and destinations are teaming up to convert visitors to fans from around the world. In 2018, more than 20 professional sports teams exhibited at IPW, U.S. Travel's premier international inbound travel marketplace where they met face-to-face with tour operators who are selling the U.S. to ensure their product is included in future itineraries.

To register for IPW in Las Vegas, May 30-June 3, 2020, click here. New to IPW? First-time sports exhibitors receive 50% off their registration. View details or contact our meetings department.

Other Questions? Contact Malcolm Smith, senior vice president, business development and general manager, IPW.