Doing Sports Travel Right, with Jay Smith

Episode 102:

Jay has been in the travel industry since 1974, beginning his career operating camping programs for students throughout North America. Jay moved to Massachusetts in 1987 with his family and shortly after started up Sports Travel and Tours. The business first began with group trips primarily for baseball and expanded quickly to include most other major sports. The business has a specific niche, tapping into the passion of the sports fan experiencing games and events live.

Jay also serves on the executive committee of NTA, where he has served in a number of capacities, including board chair.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Jay Smith about the importance of seemingly random conversations and just being willing to talk to people. Opportunities abound when you are open to a conversation. You never know where those casual chats might lead. Jay has built a thriving travel business on this simple principle.

What You Will Learn:

  • The beauty of TTP and TTMP (Talk To People, then Talk To More People)
  • How to exceed people’s expectations so they return to your service
  • Diversifying to weather changes in the market
  • Learning how to get to “yes”
  • Using co-opetition to play to your strengths and let others play to theirs

How to Be in the Right Place at the Right Time

For Jay, being in the right place at the right time has played a big role in his career. But being there is just half the equation. As I was glad to point out, if you work hard, you’ll be lucky. If you’re in the right place but don’t strike up that conversation and then follow through – opportunity can be lost.

This is a people business – so whether the opportunity is with potential guests, other players in your market, or DMOs – connecting with people and exploring the potential for working together is the name of the game.

Getting to Yes

Jay’s business has a great relationship with the Baseball Hall of Fame. In fact, they are the official travel company of the Baseball Hall of Fame. But that didn’t just happen. Jay didn’t call up people in Cooperstown and get that gig. He developed a relationship over time, and gently but persistently did not take “no” for an answer. That’s what it takes sometimes to get to “Yes.”


Episode Transcript