Gen Z and Millennials Are Traveling to Attend Sporting Events

With a rise in consumer behavior mindset shifting toward spending money on experiences over product purchases, American Express’ new study, “2024 Global Travel Trends Report” gives a glimpse inside the newest travel trends for the year.

The survey polled more than 2,000 U.S. adults, more than 1,000 Australian adults, more than 1,000 Canadian adults, more than 1,000 U.K. adults, more than 1,000 Japanese adults, more than 1,000 Mexican adults and more than 1,000 Indian adults — with consumers who make at least $50,000 a year, or country equivalent, and who typically travel at least once a year.

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One trend that has taken off significantly is sports tourism. Attending athletic events is nothing new, but planning trips around major sporting competitions or following a beloved team or sport has seen a meteoric rise, especially among younger generations post-pandemic. In tandem, sports documentaries such as Netflix’s “Drive to Survive,” “Full Swing,” “Breakpoint” and Zendaya and Joshua O’Connor’s new tennis movie directed by Luca Guadagnino, “Challengers” have also provided consumers with a continued surge in interest.

Overwhelmingly, 71 percent of respondents report they are into sports and consider themselves a “huge” or casual fan. Sixty-seven percent of Millennials and Generation Z respondents said that they are interested in traveling for sporting events in 2024. Of the sports, 58 percent of all respondents identified that soccer, basketball and Formula 1 racing remain the most favored they are traveling for in 2024.

The Amex report’s authors point to consumers going the extra mile for attending events this year — with 75 percent of respondents planning on attending a sports event stating that they will spend at least three hours traveling there. Top consumer reasonings for doing so include watching their favorite sports teams in person (35 percent), witnessing a big sports or cultural event (34 percent) and seeing a favorite athlete (20 percent).

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 18: Kevin Magnussen leads Lewis Hamilton  during the F1 Grand Prix of Las Vegas at Las Vegas Strip Circuit on November 18, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kym Illman/Getty Images)
Formula 1’s Las Vegas Grand Prix returns for another year of racing on the Strip.

Top destinations for sports travel include Miami, with the Miami Grand Prix in May and Miami Heat basketball games, New York with Knicks basketball games, Paris, with Paris Saint Germain soccer games and the 2024 Summer Olympics, and Las Vegas, with the Las Vegas Grand Prix in November and Las Vegas Raiders football games.

“In the past few years, Las Vegas has become an even more sought-after destination due to the growing prevalence of professional sports — giving us an even greater opportunity to focus on luxury, experience-based travel,” said Steve Weitman, president of Wynn and Encore Las Vegas. “Iconic sports moments continue to come to life in Las Vegas, with no signs of slowing down.”

The report goes on to find that 77 percent of people surveyed care more about having the right travel experience, as opposed to the total cost of the trip. With this in mind and seeing how consumers continue to value one-of-a-kind experiences, American Express Presents Carbone Beach has also recently announced its third year of the Major Food Group-owned beachside supper club for four nights during the Miami Grand Prix.

“Over the past few years we’ve seen a growing popularity of sports fans, with more ways to access games, and a continued craving for community and live experiences,” Audrey Hendley told WWD. “Our ‘2024 Global Travel Trends Report’ shows that Millennial and Gen Z respondents are interested in planning entire trips around watching sporting events and seeing their favorite teams and players in person.”

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