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November 22, 2018

The astonishing marketing success of travel, and spectator sports


As an old marketing guy, whenever the holiday season rolls around, I look in amazement at the success of travel, and spectator sports. And even if you're not particularly interested in sales and marketing, you gotta admit, these two businesses make a LOT of money.

Even though I've been studying it for many years, it still leaves me puzzled. If you suggested to me that you would crowd people together, and make them as physically uncomfortable as possible, and then charge them a lot of money for it, I would say that you're crazy. But it happens all of the time, and it's happening as I write this.

It starts with selling a ticket. But that's just where it starts. Because as expensive as tickets are, that's just the beginning. After that you can sell parking. You can sell all kinds of things at greatly inflated prices, like bottles of water, or coffee, or alcohol.

It gets even better. The majority of the advertising for this is free. And the most valuable advertising, which is just people talking to each other, is spectacular for travel and spectator sports. Especially around the holidays the topic of conversation for many people is where they're traveling to, and what game they'll be watching.

Now please don't get me wrong, I'm not criticizing, far from it. The way I'm describing it is a marketing point of view, and from that point of view, all I can say is "wow"! There are a lot of successful marketing models out there, but nothing is as successful as travel and spectator sports. It's such a "given" that people will often ask me in a sad voice why I don't have tickets, either to the game, or to travel somewhere.

Maybe it's my sense of humor, but I often try to imagine someone explaining this to someone who knows nothing about it. You pay a ticket, then you stand in line, get put into a big crowd, etc. Still, it's important to note that no one is actually forcing anyone to do these things. If everyone just up and decided to spend their millions of dollars elsewhere, it would just be like any other marketing situation. That's how a free economy works, people "vote" with their dollars, and to many people, traveling and spectator sports are worth it.

I just gotta admit I'm jealous.

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