Fans turn trip into business scheme
On the back of a successful supporters' tour to watch Jeremy Brockie in his debut home game for the Wellington Phoenix, the organisers have launched a new sporting tourism venture with the first excursion this weekend.
JPL Sports Travel & Escorted Tours' bread and butter will be football - they are the official supporters tour partners for the Nelson Falcons and have links to the Phoenix - though the group will look to branch into other codes.
The sports enthusiasts believe there is a wide range of events they can target including rugby league, rugby union, and in the future similar trips to Bathurst and Melbourne sport showpieces.
Setting out with no intention of starting a business, four friends with ties to Richmond Athletic AFC were keen to make the trip to Wellington to support Brockie, a former player.
As word spread of the trip, it quickly grew to the point where 45 tickets were bought for the match against Sydney FC at Wellington's Cake Tin in October. The Nelson Mail went along for the trip to watch the festivities building up to and following the 2-0 win, including a breakfast with Brockie and other Phoenix players.
After the trip, Matt Campbell, Stu Reid, Paul Brockie and Matt Watson put their heads together to see if they could plan bigger and better tours for the future. They developed the concept into the small enterprise.
"We are offering a group experience where everything is taken care of and booked for you," said Reid. "A complete package deal from travel, accommodation, transfers, meals, activities outside of the main event and tickets."
He said their target market would be enthusiastic people who are keen to participate in activities included in the trip itinerary.
"At least one of us will be on every trip as the host, and between us we have an incredible network of friends and individuals who would join us to make the experience even better, including well-known people and celebrities."
A group will attend Sunday's match between the Wellington Phoenix and the Newcastle Jets, while the Nelson Falcons fixture against Team Wellington is on the same day.
A package has been put together for the Perth Glory game in Auckland on February 2, in a double-header weekend with the New Zealand Breakers basketball team also playing.
Reid said the All Whites World Cup qualifier match against New Caledonia on March 22 would be a popular option, while the NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on May 11 would also be targeted.
- The Nelson Mail