4 Strategies to Score Savings on Sports Travel

our top tactics to secure the best fares

The World of Corporate Sports Travel can be Complex


Getting athletes to an international tournament or a board member to a sports conference at the opposite end of the country involves an almost dizzying array of moving parts.

Gray Dawes Sports logo

With so much logistical information to process, it is easy to overlook one of the most important parts of any successful sports travel programme – the part where you save money. But cutting costs isn’t as straightforward as trawling the web for last-minute flight deals. As a travel management company with years of specialist sports travel expertise, our consultants at Gray Dawes Sports are well-versed in the tips and tricks needed to secure the savings that will make a real difference to your budget.

In this article, we look deeper at 4 of the best tactics for cutting sports travel costs. You might be surprised at some of the ways you can save money.

#1- Book as a Team

It might sound simple, but booking your travel as a group can save you some serious money. Some airlines allow a travel booker to pool the luggage allowance across an entire team.

This is particularly useful when you consider how much equipment sports teams usually travel with – extra kit, physio beds, medical devices, and more. In short, by consolidating the extra kilograms of baggage into one group travel booking, individual travellers don’t have to pay extra for bringing more bags. 

These savings aren’t trivial either as costs associated with excess baggage can be incredibly high. One of our clients had built an itinerary that required so much excess baggage that it cost in the region of £20,000. Your TMC should help you work out excess baggage over individual allowances, whether it can be consolidated into a group booking, and then clear it all at the same time as booking seats.

#2- Book Seats On Flights The Moment They Go On Sale

As the well-known proverb goes: “the early bird catches the worm”. This is especially true when it comes to Sports travel and booking flights – the earlier you secure your seats, the more likely you are to save money.

Most airlines list seats for sale 11 months prior to the scheduled flight. If possible, ensure that your travellers and/or teams are confirmed for travel a year in advance so that when the seats go on sale you are in a position to swoop in and get the early deals. 

This is where a TMC can really add value. Most airlines (with the exception of low-cost carriers) will let TMCs hold seats for a period of time by paying a small deposit. Via this method, travel bookers do not need to confirm final passenger numbers or worry about submitting passenger names until a month in advance in many cases. Even after submitting names, a TMC like Gray Dawes can generally change them free of charge before the tickets are issued. 

Essentially it doesn’t matter if you haven’t chosen your team; with the help of a TMC you can still book the flights!

Here’s approximately what you can save when booking your travel at least 90 days in advance:


Savings on Domestic Flights


Savings on European Flights


Savings on International Flights

#3- Submit Your Calendar of Events to Your TMC

Your sporting calendar is usually very predictable. Tournaments are scheduled and venues are booked years in advance, alongside all manner of sporting conferences, events, and meets that fill the seasons of sport. 

A good TMC with expertise in sports travel will ask you to send a copy of your sporting calendar so that they can assess your year(s) ahead and plan accordingly. This information is invaluable. It not only helps consultants to secure fares early (and more cheaply), it allows them to thoroughly analyse the location, lock down any on-the-ground logistics, and book accommodation long before it sells out. 

For British Swimming, one of our clients, coordinating calendars with our team of travel experts is one of the first things they do before the start of every season. This calendar allows us to see exactly where the swimmers need to be throughout the year, gives us the chance to understand their training and tournament schedule, and leaves us with time to ensure staff and athletes arrive at their destinations in good time and in the best possible shape.

#4 – Don’t Overlook the Importance of Defining Your Travel Budget

Take time to think more deeply about your travel budget and how it fits in with your objectives, not just for your organisation, but for your athletes and/or team. Ensure that it covers all aspects of the trip so that you aren’t tripped up by unexpected costs. Think about things such as:

  • The costs involved in sustainable travel options.
  • The price of ground transportation at the destination.
  • How much travellers might need for food and drink.

Your TMC should be able to help you plan out your travel budget. They will also recommend and help you secure any financial support your athletes and staff might be entitled to, including considerations for meals, transportation, and incidentals.

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