Continuing on with our Industry Insider series, we spoke with Destination Sport Experiences Managing Director Brendan Fox.
Fox has had over 20 years experience within the international travel sector, building great relationships across the sports travel industry, he and his experienced team have facilitated the growth in the sports mass participation sector.
Brendan kindly took time out of his very hectic schedule to talk us through the trends and future of sports travel.
Can you introduce yourself and your role with Destination Sport Experiences, and how did you get involved in the sports travel industry?
I’m Brendan Fox, and have the pleasure of being the Managing Director of Destination Sport Experiences! I’ve been in the travel industry for more than 25 years, but well over a decade ago I had the opportunity to focus on sports travel, which combined my own passion for sport with my job, so was perfect.
What exactly do Destination Sport Experiences offer, and how is it different from other travel package providers?
We enable people to take part in endurance sports events across the world, specifically in marathons, cycling events and triathlons.
As part of this, we may provide guaranteed entry for sell-out events around the world, as well as organise travel packages for athletes looking to take the hassle out of a trip to an international sporting event.
As many of our team are very sporty, we’re able to relate well to our customers’ needs and help them on their journey to participate in their chosen event. We all understand what our customers need to achieve their goals, whether it’s a fast time or just making it to the finish line as part of a life challenge.
What trends have you seen within the industry in the last 3 years? How have things changed pre-and post-Brexit, and how did COVID-19 affect everything?
Brexit has certainly made it more difficult to move sports equipment around, especially if the owner of the equipment (such as a bike) isn’t with their equipment at the time.
We’ve even seen this impact, professional athletes, over the last few years, so nobody is totally immune to this impact!
Brexit has also made it more difficult for some Europeans to enter the UK to participate in events, as European ID cards are no longer valid, so they now need a passport, which not everyone has.
COVID-19 has certainly affected people’s training schedules, physically in some instances, which means people haven’t always felt ‘race-ready’.
Our experience tells us that sportspeople like to plan very far in advance, which the uncertainty brought on by COVID hasn’t helped. It will be a while before travel to sports events is probably back to pre-2020 levels, but it will happen.
What do you see as the future for sports travel?
People want to do more with their time and want experiences as part of their travel. Years ago it was about traveling to the latest destination or the fanciest 5-star hotel.
Now, people want to talk about what they have achieved while they’ve been away. For a lot of sports-focused people, they are a cyclist or a runner whether or not on holiday!
This means people will use the excuse of a holiday to participate in an event or vice versa! We speak to so many people every year whose first trip to France was to run in the Paris Marathon, for example.
The future will probably involve newer destinations for events, travelling to these to experience the destination along with run, cycle or triathlons.
What’s next for Destination Sport Experiences?
We’re expanding our footprint globally, so being able to assist more people right across the world. We believe we have a great brand and a great team to achieve this.
Finally, what’s your next personal challenge, do you have any sporting events on the horizon?
Ha, good question. After saying I was finished with marathons, I did have the pleasure of attending the 2022 Boston Marathon as a spectator, but this did rekindle a desire to maybe run along the world-famous finish of Boylston Street, so that may have to go on my bucket list now!