Even if your event has a successful track record, it is important to make it fresh and exciting to expand its growth and influence within your sport. There may be specific reasons that make your current event strong: It may offer something different than your competitors; it’s a valuable qualifier or championship; or it features an exciting destination that attracts teams and their families and friends. With all that’s going for it, the reality is that a different niche or a new facility—or perhaps even new championships—develop every year that could one day adversely affect your event. You must keep the pressure on and continue to innovate to stay on top.
To ensure your event’s longevity and to keep it growing, make it a priority to regularly review your event to maintain your disrupter position. On a budget? Have no fear—you don’t need to spend a lot to make improvements. Sometimes being creative with even simple ideas, improving event communications or a perfect partnership with a vendor can have a big impact. Take these steps now to keep your event competitors striving to keep up!
Refresh the Team Roster
Empower your whole team to be a part of the company's direction and mission.
- Select team members from all segments of your event to make sure the changes affect each segment in a positive way.
- Include feedback from coaches and informed parents.
- Pull in interns from local colleges with sports management/marketing curriculums, or who are certified to work events, so they can gain experience and offer a fresh perspective on your efforts.
Host a Season Event Review Retreat
- Set up a two- to three-day retreat in a relaxed environment with no distractions so your team can focus on your mission.
- On day one, break your event down and list the things that make your event stand out in these categories. What are the positive takeaways that your customers experience? How is your event unique and better than others?
Event Standout Items
1. Closing ceremony
2. No line to enter the venue
3. Overstaff events and make sure staff is visible to guests
1. Custom awards
2. Discounts from local restaurants
3. Kids dance party included
1. Showcase and conference in one location
2. Only qualifier for a championship in that region
3. Vendor park allowed for all shopping needs in one location and was tented with air-cooling machines
Now using these same categories, list the items that your event is missing. What are your pain points in each of these areas? In what areas can your event grow and ultimately stand out?
Event Pain Points
1. Parking cost and lack of space
2. Fans must bring their own seating
3. There is no championship field; all fields are the same
1. Our registration fees are the highest in our market
2. There is no practice space for teams
3. There is no place for refs and coaches to get away
1. We are using a facility that is outdated compared to other events in our market
2. We draw competitive teams that always beat other teams
3. Our location is not near enough hotels and restaurants
Taking the data from your event examination, set up day two of your retreat as an idea workshop, considering things that would keep your event ahead of its time. Look at ways to improve operations, add value to your attendees and ultimately address all of your pain points.
Here are some ways to enhance your events.
Easier Admission Options
This is the first touchpoint experience for your attendees. Could you add a more automated self-managed system that will eliminate the need for gate attendees and chances of theft while making the process be a seamless experience for your attendees? Consider mobile ticketing instead of paper or cash at the door. Find a way that allows attendees to easily move from field to field or to different arenas without trouble.
Signage That Answers Everything
Use your signs to make the experience intuitive while injecting energy and innovation. Have a group focus on every segment, from directions and how scores are displayed to your brand visibility. Are your signs and banners visually crisp and well maintained or tattered from repeated use? The right signage plan can change the whole attendee experience.
Address Your Look From Head to Toe
How does your staff appear? Does their attire and appearance represent the company image that you wish to portray? Use your staff to model your event shirts. If team members see the people that they admire wearing them, they will want it!
How does your setup look? Are there boxes in sight? Is there visible clutter? Do you have a team assigned to maintain the look throughout the event? Even though you are running a great event, are your attendees having the best experience possible with your hotels or housing company? Do hotels join in to help communicate your event schedule? From the registration form to hotel checkout, walking through each step through the eyes of your attendee will ensure your event does not miss a beat.
Communication Is Key
How parents and fans experience your event is critical. Are your communications frequent, easily accessible and clear? Does your information look and feel like your brand, both verbally and visually? Do you have the right subject line to get them to read the email? Do you have a plan to notify all attendees if there is a safety or weather issue? Several industry leaders have shared they distribute a cell number that anyone can text if they have a question to immediately eliminate miscommunication.
When it comes to awards, is there something new you can offer, not just an updated banner or trophy but perhaps the latest equipment gear or technology platforms that support their club business? This shows teams that you are attuned to and thinking specifically of their needs.
Value for Attendees
In addition to team support, sports parents care about price and value-added features that make it easy for them to attend. What can you do to make all the features and options in your venue easy and affordable? For instance, have your housing company set up special room-service menus that offer more price-friendly and family-attractive food options.
1. Experience and learn from other events. Some of my best ideas come from diverse settings, ranging from World Wrestling Entertainment events to the circus to airports. Every event and every public venue can generate fresh, new ideas you can apply to your event.
2. Add mystery to your event to excite, surprise and delight attendees each year. For example, have a surprise guest that is prominent in your sport or send out carnival passes to registered teams. When they arrive, they will be met by a carnival on-site at your event. The buzz will quickly get out and possibly drive more teams to your upcoming events.
3. Technology can change the whole event’s look and help carry your message and branding. One racquetball tournament featured a live video wall that generated special images, sounds and effects when points were scored, energizing the whole event. People remained engaged longer and helped the event have a widespread presence on social media.
Now that you have identified the positive items your event offers as well as the items that could be enhanced, fill in the holes and create a complete plan and timeline to remove the challenges and get the boost your event deserves.
“Whenever I am looking to add flair to an event that we are hosting, I go to my CVB partners for help and ideas. Their experiences have always brought value and creative ideas to our events.”
–Adam Stluka, Director of Venue Relations, Training & Education Varsity Brands
“Emblemize your impact with local attractions and restaurants and premarket these enhancements for the event. You have a direct impact on the local community with meetings at hotels…engage the community.”
–Mike Chandler, Altitude Consulting and former USA Volleyball Director
"Make sure your ‘why’ is clear to all involved: customers, attendees, staff, etc. Use your housing company to survey the parents and attendees as to what they experienced. If your ‘why’ is not revealed, then change your delivery.”
–Tyler Childs, President & CEO, Sports-Travel & Events