Sports and tourism are inextricably connected. People travel to faraway destinations to play, watch and compete in sports. Sporting events such as the Olympics and notable football championships attract thousands of people.
While the pandemic may have stalled international sports tourism for a while, with many sporting events being cancelled or postponed, the industry is far from dead.
Vaccines and new hygiene and safety measures have permitted the organisation of the 2020 Olympics in 2021, as well as the UEFA Euro 2020, albeit with restrictions.
The return of sports events, coupled with people’s desire to enjoy the outdoors and engage in physical activity after prolonged lockdowns, paints a promising picture for the future of sports tourism.
As a result, vacation rental property managers with properties in sports destinations should consider revamping their vacation rental marketing strategies and focusing on attracting athletes and sports fans. Advertising on niche listing sites is a great opportunity to boost your rentals’ visibility.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the sports tourism travel trend, why it’s interesting for vacation rental property managers and which niche websites you should get listed on.
Sports tourism: a growing travel trend
Sports tourism is a fast-growing travel trend. Prior to the pandemic, the global sports tourism market was expected to have a CAGR (compound Annual Growth Rate) of over 36% in the period between 2019 and 2023.
Although the sports industry suffered drastic losses during the pandemic – an estimated $60 billion USD in revenue – and sports tourism was effectively brought to a halt, demand has started to pick back up.
For example, several ski resorts in North America and other regions enjoyed a record-breaking 2020-2021 winter season, despite the effects of COVID-19. And secondly, the increasing number of sporting events has given sports tourism a boost: the market is now expected to grow by nearly $1,4 billion USD by 2024.
What types of sports tourism are there?
While sports tourism is itself a niche within the travel industry, it also has its own sub-niches.
The most common types of sports tourism involve travelling in order to participate in sports activities, watch sports competitions or discover the sporting history of a destination. Think surf aficionados looking for the perfect beach break, MotoGP enthusiasts flying halfway across the world to see a race, and Barça fans flocking to Barcelona to explore their favourite team’s home stadium.
Based on these sub-niches, researchers have identified three types of sports tourists:
1. Participatory: Sports tourists who actively participate in sports at their destinations.
2. Event-based: Sports tourists who travel to witness a live sports event.
3. Celebratory: Sports tourists who visit attractions like halls of fame, museums and stadiums.
It’s essential for property managers who want to leverage sports tourism to be familiar with these traveller profiles.
The only way to target a specific group of travellers and provide them with the best possible guest experience is by asking: Why do people travel?
In the case of sports tourists, the answer becomes very clear just by looking at the three typical guest profiles above.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Why should property managers want to attract sports tourists in the first place? Let’s take a look.
Why sports tourism is an interesting niche for vacation rentals
Sports tourism and vacation rentals go together in many ways.
Firstly, targeting sports fans is a great way for property managers to secure low-season bookings. Many sporting events take place during the months of drought when traditional tourism drops. No selfie-stick brandishing sightseers? No problem, bring in the football fans!
Compare to other niche options like Mid-Term Rentals.
Secondly, sports can serve as a great way to market destinations that otherwise wouldn’t be popular among tourists. You would be surprised how many people are willing to travel for the sole purpose of finding a perfect sports spot!
Could include high-end Luxury Properties.
Thirdly, catering to sports enthusiasts gives property managers a whole host of opportunities for upselling. You can offer sports gear for rent, lessons, guided activities, and more.
And last but not least, sports fans often travel in groups. For property managers, that means more guests per booking.
Appeal to remote workers as Digital Nomad destinations.
Now the only question is: how do you get your property in front of sporty travellers? The best way to do that is by getting listed on niche vacation rental websites specialising in sports tourism.
These websites get thousands of visitors each month, looking for sports-optimised vacation rentals just like yours. They each focus on a different type of traveller (participatory, event-based and celebratory). Some are global, others hyper-local.
Here are the top 6:
6 Niche vacation rental websites addressing the sports tourism travel trend
Golfhōm provides eager golf enthusiasts with a curated list of club-vicinity homes, condos, and villas close to their golf course of choice. Guests can search by their preferred tournament or city with Golfhōm’s database of 39,000+ courses worldwide.
They provide a selection of properties all over the world within approximately a 2-mile-radius from the golf course for avid golfers to choose from.
Not only does Golfhōm provide vacation rentals, but they offer the whole package. Guests have the ability to request tee times, buy partner golf swag and ship their clubs to their next destination if needed.
Golfhōm is looking to become the next Expedia for Golfers, making the booking process much simpler, while bringing golf online for the first time.
As a result, Golfhōm is transforming how golf travellers locate and book their next vacation rental.
If you have properties near popular golf destinations, get listed on Golfhōm now through Rentals United.
Inntopia understands that a ski vacation is a logistical challenge. They have designed an all-in-one platform that allows the guest to easily book vacation rentals, lift tickets, ski rentals, ski lessons and more. Inntopia lets users aggregate everything a guest needs and sell it through a single interface.
As one of the most popular brands in the US for skiing, their platform solves destination travel’s complex challenges. Inntopia’s software and expert consulting improve the bottom line, and guests love it.
If you own a property in a ski region in the US, check out Inntopia. They will be coming soon to Rentals United, you can read about all our upcoming channels here.
Sportihome creates unique opportunities for property managers to maximise their occupancy in the low season when weather conditions are optimal and major sporting events take place.
On Sportihome’s booking platform, travellers can find vacation rentals near sports destinations around the world, from France to South America and beyond.
When searching, sports lovers can choose between 45 different sports to practice, including skiing, surfing, paragliding, mountain biking, kiteboarding and many more.
Guests also have the option to stay with a host who practices the same sport, get tips on local spots and even go on sports activities together.
Ski.com has been in the ski-travel industry for 48 years and is the largest provider of Ski homes, vacation rentals, and mountain cabins in North America.
The listing site ensures high-quality inventory by vetting every home rental and property management company they work with. The vetting process is carried out by Ski.com’s expertly trained operations team, Vacation Rental Patrol.
Ski.com uses cutting-edge technology to streamline the listing management process for property managers and simplify the booking process for guests.
With a high-traffic website that’s guaranteed to help your listings attract views and bookings, Ski.com is an excellent choice for vacation rental property managers with ski rentals in Northern US destinations.
Xplorie partners with vacation rental property managers and local activity providers to offer guests free activities to go with their accommodations.
They target active, outdoorsy people who want the full package: a stay at a quality vacation rental and a bunch of activities to choose from, all included in the price.
From the beaches of Florida to the mountains of Utah, they cover all the most beautiful destinations in the US.
6. Rent Like a Champion
Rent Like a Champion offers weekend rentals in more than 20 college towns around the US for fans of college football, among other sports.
The properties listed on their website are all close to football stadiums, golf courses and race tracks. Travellers can search by event and browse through available homes.
Want to learn more about getting listed on niche websites? Book a call with one of our distribution experts!
Editor’s note: This article was previously published in January 2020 and has been updated for accuracy, depth and comprehensiveness.