Local Travel Agencies Feel the Impact of No Bowl Game
Two area travel agencies have voiced concern over how NCAA sanctions barring Penn State from bowl games will impact their business this winter.
“It’s obviously a noticeable thing,” said Raymond McGill, owner of Nittany Travel.
He said Nittany Travel, which is based in Lock Haven but does business in State College, assists more than 250 people with charter flights for Penn State bowl games each year, primarily between December and January.
“That certainty does impact (us),” McGill said. “When they do go to a bowl the interest is significant.”
McGill said while Penn State bowl games are not something Nittany Travel “plans on” for success, when the school is eligible and qualified for a bowl, it “helps us maintain profitability in our business.”
It’s not clear whether the absence of a bowl game will inspire people to make other travel arrangements instead, McGill said. Penn State fans are “loyal,” so it’s hard to say if these fans will choose other sports venues, a cruise or a vacation to compensate.
Many of these fans don’t view the bowl game trips as vacations, McGill said.
“They just look at it more as an event they just want to be a part of,” he said.
McGill said Nittany Travel doesn’t “live or die” by bowl game business, and not having a bowl game won’t take the company out of business, but it does hurt the revenue stream.
“Some companies do live and die by this kind of program,” he said.
McGill said he’s disappointed in the sanctions and how they affect people not involved in the Jerry Sandusky controversy. Penn State faces a four-year bowl ban as part of the NCAA sanctions, so this issue is one the travel agencies will have to deal with for the next three years, perhaps longer depending on the success of the team.
He said he’s proud of the football players and the way the Penn State athletic department has responded to the tragedy.
The school did a “great job turning it around,” he said, and alumni and fans should be proud of that.
Similarly, Centre for Travel Manager and Owner Kay Rogers said she believes Penn State not going to a bowl game will impact the agency as well as other businesses in the area, and in surrounding areas.
“So that means we need to sell more travel to the clients that had been expecting a bowl,” she said. “We do have a very large mailing list and many of the people that we have done (business with) over the years are now calling for other trips such as cruises, tours and getaways to islands.”
Rogers said Centre for Travel has been providing Penn State bowl tours since the 1970s, and it’s difficult to estimate how many thousands the agency has arranged over the years.
“For example, when Penn State was in the Rose Bowl we took over 5,000 people and did our own charter planes,” she said, adding that Centre for Travel has assisted with Fiesta Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Florida bowls' travel.
The economy, additionally, has played a large part in some recent numbers, Rogers said. Because clients have gone to so many bowls, they tend to wait to see where Penn State will go and then make a decision to attend a bowl game or just a regular away game. To save funds, they usually won’t do both, she said.
“We try (to) find some interesting things to do with some of these games because people have already been to the same place over the years,” she said. “This year would have been a very nice bowl with our new coach, our great players and our wins.”