What does your business car say about you?
This probably seems like a silly question. You likely would respond, “My business card has all my contact information, the name and logo our company, that’s about it.” In all reality, the business card, as archaic as they are in today’s tech society, say quite a bit more than that. They are the front door welcome mat to you and your company, and as we all know, first impressions matter.
We have surveyed hundreds of event rights holders specifically asking them what they look for in a host community. You may be surprised at their answers. Sure, great venues and financial considerations can impact their decision making, but for the long-term health of their events, there are many other elements at play here. After all, they are choosing a dance partner for their event, which might be the most important decision they make each year (for themselves and their athletes, coaches, families and fans).
Back to the business card question. So what does yours really say? As you think that through, let us tell you what event rights holders do NOT want it to say.
On several occasions, we have presented our findings on the best and worst practices in the sports tourism and events industry, and the use of the word “sales” as a job description is at the top of the “worst practice” list. Event rights holders are making a buying decision for their product (their event), and they are trying to choose a host they can partner with that will help them deliver the best event they have ever had. Rights holders we have surveyed, and those that we have consulted with, to a person say that when they are presented with a business card with “sales” in the title, they fear that the person is only concerned with “heads in beds” and not the actual event execution itself.
In reality, we are all in sales, whether you think you are or not. Everyone is selling something. So the culprit here isn’t the role of a sales person, it’s putting that sales mission on your sleeve that could be s detriment to your efforts to land these coveted sporting events. Going back to the buying decision these event rights holders are making, think about it this way. The NASC has doubled in membership over the past decade (it doubled the decade prior to that as well). There are more cities playing in this space than ever before, so the rights holders have more options today than in the past. If your message to them is that capturing as many room nights as possible is the ultimate goal, they can move on to any number of viable communities. Destinations that can most likely offer them the same bid package you can, and would put the execution of the event first, and the heads in beds on the back burner.
We have presented on this topic over a dozen times across the country, and the inevitable question that comes is this, “You are saying not to worry about room nights, but we are measured on our total room night goals and bed tax collected, so what are we to tell our boards back home, that room nights are not important?” Our answer is simple, we didn’t say room nights don’t matter, however if you LEAD with heads in beds to an event rights holder, expect them to move on to another dance partner. What we would tell your boards and stakeholder groups is this: If you covet sporting events as much as the event rights holder does, and you help them deliver a fantastic event experience, they are more able to award multi-year bids, and renew in a shorter time frame than virtually any other tourism industry in existence. Further, if you really invest in offering a top-shelf result for your event partners, they may even want to talk about a permanent site situation for their event (think Omaha with the College World Series, Williamsport for Little League, Hutchinson Kansas for NJCAA Basketball, Tulsa for the BMX Grand Nationals).
As you can see, you don’t need to be a large metro market destination to play the long-game. But the long-term vision starts with the simple things today. Revamp your “sales” positions to reflect a sports savvy event professional that is out to partner with event rights holders on the event first, and worry about room blocks later. Here are some options some of our clients have used in this transition (instead of “Sports Sales” for instance, all can be used interchangeably with director/manager/coordinator):
· Director of Sports Development
· Sports Manager
· Director of Sports & Events
· Sports Marketing Coordinator
· Events Facilitator
· Director of Sports Marketing
· Sports Operations Manager
· Senior Sports Director
Not a client of ours, but a great one from Redland (CA), how about “Sports Commissioner”?..... THAT title certainly says something more robust than “sales”. No matter which path you take, anything that sends the rights holder a message that you are in it for more than just room nights, you will be better served in the sports market over the long haul.