• Planning when you’re neither an athlete nor a spectator
• Do your homework
• Make your event unique to stand out among the many options
Many planners get thrown a curve ball when the boss suddenly decides to throw a golf or fishing tournament into their next conference agenda. Say what? You, yes you, successful but non-athletic planner that you are, might one day be faced with this ‘foreign’ challenge, and after gathering a little background information, we’re betting you will not only rise to the occasion but knock this one out of the ballpark. Here’s a short primer course in planning any type of sporting event, even when you’re neither an athlete nor a spectator.
After your education has begun, start making lists. Yes, this is the part that planners are best at. Start with the big items like equipment, playing fields or venues, judges/referees/coaches, and the like. Make sure to investigate if city permits are needed and what kind of insurance is required. Softball tournaments need fields and groundkeepers; bike or foot races need routes measured to the exact distance, plus police help in traffic management; fishing tournaments need boats, water, and appropriate safety equipment. Certainly all tournaments have some common needs such as multiple bathrooms, water and food stations, lighting, safety, and sound systems. But also consider the need for accountability, liability, and financial management. Use those same exceptional planner skills you bring to the table for every meeting you work on and kick it up a notch to think through every scenario, rain or shine, that might happen during the course of your planned activity.
Ask plenty of questions. Don’t be afraid of asking the trivial things like how many balls do you have to supply or do your judges need some kind of official certification or credentials. People who play or organize these sporting events for a living are usually generous in sharing planning information. More specifically, ask what not to do right along with getting tips on best practices and you’ll be able to craft a winning combination for planning your own event.
Anthony went on to give this advice for planners who are new to the area of sports management. “First, make sure your event is unique. Tap into holidays, find a new product angle to focus on, capitalize on a relevant or trendy theme, put a different twist on your event to make it stand out among all the other similar options because there are already plenty of them out there; all competing for the same time and money. Second, hire an expert for sports-specific guidance. The majority of your team will be made up of volunteers, but in the world of sports, the team captain needs to be a pro.”
Terry Matthews-Lombardo, CMP, better known as TML, travels, plans meetings and then writes about all those experiences from the viewpoint of being on the road and in the center of the action. It’s usually a good combination, or at least worth an interesting read. Having worked on both sides of the industry, she writes from the viewpoint of a veteran planner as well as a travel-savvy road warrior. If you want to read more from TML you can follow her at www.MidwestMeetings.com and at www.tmlwrites.com where you’ll find stories covering both destinations and detours or visit her blog at www.hypeorlando.com/hospitality-hive/.