Earlier this year we were invited by a good friend to attend a concert featuring four legendary rock bands – Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Poison, Motley Crew, and (my favorite) Def Leppard. Three of the four delivered the goods. Brett Michaels of Poison put on an exceptional performance. Joan Jett didn’t sing or move like she is in her 60s, more like in her 20s. Def Leppard was awesome as usual. The fourth band in this group fell well short of the mark.
It was apparent two minutes into their set that Motley Crew is a shell of their former selves. Singer Vince Neil, once an iconic leading man (see Dr. Feelgood), looked to be at least 100 pounds overweight and his voice hasn’t stood the test of time like the others on the stage that night. We were literally concerned he may not make it through the first few songs. To cover up the fact that their lead singer couldn’t carry the band and their music wasn’t crisp, they used a lot of misdirection the other bands that night didn’t need. There was a massive laser light show and a group of young scantily clad dancing girls called the “Nasty Habits.” They were using the lights and the girls to draw your attention away from the music, which they clearly couldn’t produce as they had at their peak in the 90s. The girls were especially disgusting in the way they danced around polls, touching the musicians, touching each other, and in their interaction with the inhouse cameras (that then projected their antics onto huge video screens throughout the stadium). Motley Crew has become more like Motley Eww.
How does this misdirection apply to the sports events industry? Good question…..
Over the years we have seen a lot of this type of activity in our world. Most often it comes in the form of an event owner that says or promotes one thing, then doesn’t deliver come game day. Three specific examples here.
One event owner we worked with said their multi-sport competition had over 6,000 athletes and that was what they were promoting. When you boiled it down, they actually had less than 2,000 unique athletes since nearly every competitor was participating in multiple events. The event owner wanted financial support for the impact of 6,000 athletes when in reality they only had one-third of that in a good year. The economic impact of 2,000 is obviously less than 6,000 and the event owner knew it, yet didn’t disclose that fact until very late in the bid process. We pulled our bid due to this lack of transparency but we had already spent significant resources getting to that point. Today we make sure our destination partners understand the nature of unique athletes when they consider events like this.
A destination we work with has a long-standing deal with an event owner that involves a significant annual financial investment from the tourism bureau to the promoter. Over the years, the event owner has repeatedly failed to deliver on the terms of the agreement between the two parties. The most notable infractions are (1) the delivery of the agreed upon marketing assets, and (2) a severe lack of communication from the event owner to the tourism agency. The event owner has never viewed the tourism bureau as a partner, more like a bank. We have made recommendations to the tourism bureau to terminate this partnership so they can use the large investment they make each year on attracting new events with event owners that would serve as better partners in the future.
There are at least three event organizers in the industry we know of that have taken bid fee money from destinations and never delivered the actual event. And wait for it….. kept the money. This practice is more than just bad behavior, it’s illegal. A destination that was defrauded by one of these organizers asked us, “What would we get if we worked with your team at Huddle Up Group?” We said, “You wouldn’t have been taken advantage of by that event owner that stole your money. Did you even Google them? Everyone knows how they conduct business, you should’ve known it too.”
That seems like a bit of doom and gloom when the Monday Huddle Up is normally a “glass-is-half-full” type of publication. The positive takeaway is this – if you do the basics, treat those you work with as your partners, and communicate effectively, the positive part of our industry will take care of the rest.
Let’s vow to not use misdirection and to be as transparent and honest with each other as much as we can. More of the best of all of us and less of the Motley Eww.