University graphic design junior Stew MacFadyen always enjoyed traveling with his family. During his first away game at Ole Miss as a freshman, he saw a potential for growth in the third-party hospitality market. It was a feeling shared by marketing graduate Stinson Lanoix and construction management senior Dub Robinson.
Lanoix and Robinson met as pledge brothers for the now-defunct Sigma Chi Fraternity chapter. They later joined Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) Fraternity where MacFadyen was a pledge. The trio became close through their work at The House in Tigerland.
When the bar’s owners tasked them with bringing more business, the students had the opportunity to fill the void in the gameday travel market. Thus, Travel University, or Travel U, was founded.
Travel U is a student travel company focused on away football games, in particular, in the Southeastern Conference. The company provides all-inclusive away weekend packages for college students that include roundtrip transportation, two-night hotel stay, entrance to private events and parties with live performers, party buses to and from the venue, transportation to and from the game and merchandise giveaways.
“It takes all the hassle out of traveling as a college student,” Robinson said. “You’re not worried about ‘Oh, how am I gonna get around tonight? Where am I gonna go? Is there gonna be other kids I know there?’ We put it all together because, if you’re going to one of these away games and you get the travel package, you know there’s going to be people you know staying at the hotel. It makes it a little safer, honestly, because you’re traveling in a group.”
The trio started the company last year. Lanoix, a Jackson, Mississippi native, had connections with Mississippi State students, so the trio organized the first away trip for the Mississippi State students to come to the LSU game last fall. Almost 500 students went on the trip. Then, they organized a Cabo Spring Break trip for LSU seniors last spring.
To market that trip to Mississippi State students, the trio reached out to Old Row asking them to post on their Instagram. Lanoix said they saw a lot of orders come through because of that.
This year, Travel U reached out again because they planned trips for LSU’s game against Texas in Austin, LSU’s most recent game at Mississippi State and Auburn’s visit to Tiger Stadium this Saturday. Old Row responded with a partnership offer for the semester.
The partnership – the Old Row Tailgate Tour built by Travel U – thrusted Travel U into the spotlight and has had students partying like it’s already the roaring ‘20s with events across the SEC and other universities. Performers for past events include Mustache The Band, Trinidad James, Roscoe Dash, Petey Pablo and DJ CMIX.
“[DJ CMIX is] the same DJ that DJs all the basketball games,” Robinson said. “He’s LSU’s DJ. He’s really good.”
Lanoix now serves as the chief operating officer and vice president of sales, Robinson is the chief visionary officer and chief product officer and MacFadyen is the chief brand officer. In addition to teaching everyone how to do gamedays right, Travel U has started branching off to plan events such a fraternity formals.
Travel U and the Old Row Tailgate Tour will be back at The House in Tigerland this Friday to pregame for the Auburn game. The party will feature performances by Mustache The Band, DJ CMIX and Joe Bryson and merchandise giveaways. There are two different ticket packages for attendees 18 and up and 21 and up.
Travel packages for the weekend are also available for students coming from out of town. They include a Friday and Saturday hotel stay at the Courtyard & Resident Inn by Marriott, a ticket to the Old Row Tailgate Tour built by Travel U party at The House in Tigerland, party bus transportation to and from the hotel and bar as well as transportation to campus on game day.
“The college travel market is just ridiculous,” Robinson said. “There’s so many college students out there, and every single one of them wants to go to those big football games, the big party weekends, big Spring Breaks. It’s an awesome market to be in, and it’s a lot of fun because we get to do all this traveling and meet a lot of cool people along the way.”