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A Sporting Life
Since he started his dream sports tour business, thats what Tom Broach is leading
Tom Broach will be the first to tell you that hes not a morning person. So, ten years ago, when he leaped out ofbed at 7 a.m., vowing to "start that sports tour business," his wife Linda knew something was up.
Broach figured he'd learn by that afternoon why he shouldn't hastily abandon his twelve-year insurance career. But he didn't. With his wife's blessing, a new career mixing Broach's love of travel and sports was born.
The concept is so simple, it seems a shame that he gets to have all the fun. He arranges trips to various sporting events-big, small, close, far-filling the entire trip with appropriate activities. Say you want to go to the Kentucky Derby. For a set price, you get a seat on a luxury bus, a ticket, a hotel room, and fifty instant friendships. Broach takes care of everything.
Broach grew up an Atlanta Braves fan in Warner Robins, Georgia and attended the University of Georgia, so it stands to reason that his first three sports tours were to Braves baseball games in summer I992. Broach has since led hundreds of family-oriented trips to big-league sporting events and toured major cities across the country. "I'm always either working here in the office or on a tour," Broach says. "The easy part is during the event; the hard part is setting it all up." Pressed to list his favorite destinations, Broach reveals, "Augusta [National, home of the Masters golf tournament] is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are a close second and third."
A turning point for Broach Tours came in I995 when the Panthers joined the NFL and played their first season in Clemson, South Carolina. Muhleman Marketing asked Broach to become partners in a venture that would provide shuttle and hospitality services for I2,000 fans attending Panther home games. Averaging twenty-six buses per game from Charlotte, Greensboro, Gastonia, and the surrounding area, the partnership delivered upward of 1,200 fans per game.
The next season, when the Panthers moved into their downtown Charlotte digs, Broach began shuttling Panther faithful to road games. He flew 200 people to Dallas, and the New Orleans and Atlanta trips have developed into two of the Panthers' most popular annual road trips. When the Panthers played the Packers for the conference championship in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Broach sold enough tickets to fill a I 27 -seat Boeing 727 in less than forty-two hours.
Extended, multicity sports tours with Broach involve much more than a ball game and are among Broach's favorite trips because he gets to relax and be a fan. Multicity baseball tours range from seven to ten days and cost between $845 and $1,885 per person. Trip prices include tickets; transportation; accommodations at quality hotels; and often involve dinners along the way at related eateries including Mickey Mantle's in New York, Harry Caray's in Chicago, and Lefty O'Doul's in San Francisco. Broach's annual northeast baseball journey includes a stop at Cooperstown, New York and the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Cal Ripken Museum in Aberdeen, Maryland.
Broach says people generally enjoy the bus more than they anticipate, as tours also include scheduled movies as well as baseball highlight and blooper videos. Over the years, Broach has learned that there's no need to encourage people to interact on these trip;. "The first day. groups are pretty quiet," he says. "On the second day they start to interact By the third day, you'd think they grew up together."
Broach estimates that 80 percent of his clients are repeat customers. "We've developed a following that comes from all over the country. More and more, folks fly into Charlotte and ride on the motor coach because a lot of the fun is being with forty to fifty people who have the same interests. If you are a baseball fan on a baseball tour, I promise you will make some lifelong friends."
Charlotte Magazine, September 2002
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