What you need to know about two segments in the sports travel industry

ESM in conversation with Mr Mehul Nandu talks about the various segments of the travel industry and the various opportunities in the sports tourism sector from the perspective of an entrepreneur.

A brief intro about Mr Mehul Nandu:

Mr Mehul Nandu is the founder of World Sports Travel. He started playing Cricket during School days and went on to play Club Cricket in the UK for a few years. He started working in the Travel Industry and was often travelling for Cricket Tours to the UK, which helped him get knowledge about the Sports Travel Industry. Now, he has been organising Sports Tours for more than 15 years. His company specializes in 7 different sports disciplines and Offer Tours to more than 20 countries worldwide.

Here are some snippets of our conversation with him.

  1. Could you share with us your journey as a sports entrepreneur? How did you get into the sports travel industry?

It was a blessing in disguise for me from being a Cricketer and working in the Travel Industry. It gave me an idea of starting a Sports Tour Company as a lot of Schools and Clubs are still unknown in this field. I would say it was an excellent learning experience which challenged me to solve complex problems related to a Team travelling to the UK for a Cricket Tour.

  1. Could you tell us about the various segments in the travel industry?

Yes. There are two segments in the sports travel industry. One is the match experience segment where people travel to experience a live sporting event, say, a FIFA World Cup or an Ashes, etc. That is more of a hospitality kind of package which includes match tickets along with some sightseeing. The other part is participating in a sport abroad. Both are entirely different experiences. The latter one is majorly focused on the youths. They get an opportunity to play against an international team and in away conditions. Also, they can learn about their methods of training and coaching. 

So these are the two segments in the sports travel industry – the match experience and participating in a sport abroad.

  1. What things should be considered while preparing a travel package for teams travelling abroad to participate in a sport?

When such sports tours are planned, the primary focus of the team is on the training program. Also, we have a day or two off where the team can do some sightseeing, visit the stadiums in that country and have an entire experience. The matches are organised according to the strength of the team and their specific requirements. The budget is also an important aspect here. For example, if a team wants to practise with say a Real Madrid team, then obviously the cost will be on a higher side. 

  1. What ups and downs do people working in the sports travel industry have to face regularly?

There are ups and downs in any industry. But I feel the sports travel industry does not have many downs until and unless there is any war kind of the situation or any event which may lead to the cancellation of the sports event.

The best example here is the coronavirus pandemic which has come forward as the significant challenge to the travel industry especially the sports travel industry as it led to the cancellation of tournaments and leagues all around the world.

Considering the entire scenario, there are more advantages. In the sports travel industry. The most important factor is having good knowledge of the destination, excellent product offering and clear understanding of the product you are looking forward to market. Excellent communication skills, knowledge of logistics, Destination knowledge where the Tour is going to be organised gives a wholesome Tour experience to visiting teams.

  1. The travel industry is badly hit during this pandemic. Where does the opportunity lie for the travel companies?

Tourism Industry has been one of the worst-hit industries. It was the first to close and will be the last to open. This particular time is tough for everyone, and we need to keep patience and learn to live with the pandemic. Things will only start to improve in 2021.

I feel domestic travel will be the first sector to revive. The companies can take advantage of this and start organising local tours until the scene at the international stage gets better.

6. What would be your biggest advice to youngsters willing to make their career in this field?

The Sports Tourism Industry is very vast and involves a lot of parameters students can work. Be it International events, Individual Training programs, Scouting opportunities or becoming Athlete Managers all this requires in-depth knowledge about the industry and networking with Clubs and Academies. There is already a huge influx of sports events, and many are in the pipeline. All-in-all sports management is going to offer a myriad of opportunities to the youngsters.

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