We are often asked to help states solidify their sports tourism marketing programs. This is usually through a formalized collaboration among the various convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs) and sports commissions in a given state. While many states have launched such programs, very few have sustained success over time.
Recently we were tasked with leading a planning session for the newly created group Sports Nebraska. Their 12-member group is made up of 11 CVBs and the Omaha Sports Commission. To lay the foundation for the working session, we were asked to outline national best practices that we have seen work in other states. Here are the top five best practices we offered the group in Nebraska…..
Shared marketing with state support – If your state tourism office is involved, you have a much better chance of sustainable success. This state support most commonly comes in the form of matching funds for marketing, trade shows, and/or sales missions.
Consistent lead sharing – High performing state groups have a formal way to share leads from trade shows and sales missions. This includes sharing leads with group members that were unable to attend a show or sales trip. This is most common with some of the smaller CVBs with limited budgets that cannot travel as much as they would like to due to budget constraints. A great policy here is to assign one person in the group to be the point person for gathering, compiling, and sharing all leads on behalf of the members of the group.
Coordinated sales missions – In today’s busy world, we have found that it is more likely to attract event rights holders to one larger event than to try and meet with them individually on a sales mission. Breakfasts, lunches, or happy hours with your entire state group on hand are best to get rights holders to assemble for a social meet and greet. You can use these events to deliver a brief presentation about your state group, who is involved, and what types of events the state is looking to host.
Shared resources to extend budgets – This is a key area for the state tourism office to plug into the game plan. In successful state groups the state tourism office is offering funds to the group for marketing, trade shows, sales missions, and/or familiarization (FAM) tours. This financial commitment by the state allows for each of the group’s members to stretch their financial resources and extend their budgets to cover more events and/or marketing activities.
Larger markets are participating – In our experience, the state groups that fail to reach their potential are often missing the involvement of the larger markets in their state. The larger market CVBs and sports commissions carry a lot of weight nationally and their absence sends a clear message to event rights holders that the entire state may not be on the same page. Successful state groups have all sized markets involved, small, medium, and large.
Some state groups to emulate include Pure Michigan Sports, Sports Virginia, Sports NC, and Sports Wisconsin. Each of those groups have sustained their efforts over time and have been successful at collaborating for the greater good of their respective states.
We hope this outline can help with you in your state. If you need our help to facilitate a working session or the development of a new state sports tourism alliance, please reach out to us. We are here to help where we can add value along the sports tourism journey.