Archive for February, 2013

2013 NASC Symposium

February 26, 2013

Every year our organization looks forward to April, not only is it when the lacrosse season really starts to heat up, but it’s when the NASC Symposium occurs.  We’ve identified the symposium as one of our premier opportunities to connect with fellow rights holders and learn about best practices, trends and emerging event planning thinking.  We’ve also identified the symposium as an opportunity to connect with cities that would be interested in hosting our national events.

As a rights holder, it can be intimidating to sit at a table and look at a schedule that includes between 40-80 appointments with cities and sports complexes and just like speed dating, first impressions are everything.  It’s easy to quickly rule out a city as a potential host if they come unprepared for the meeting.  Just as it’s easy for a city to assume that a rights holder is not an expert event manager if they are unprepared.

Our team has found that we can eliminate a ruined opportunity by providing as much information up front as possible.  Basically, we believe in doing our homework.  We make sure that we fill out our profile and in it, we include our must haves for any host city (120×70 yard field are hard to find!).  When a city sits down, we ask them if they have reviewed any of our RFP’s on the NASC website and we ask them if they have looked at our minimum requirements.  When the answer is yes, we are ready to have a great conversation.

When the answer is no….well….it gets….a….little….awkward…..

We’re not perfect, but we try and respect people who also try.  At US Lacrosse, you get an A for effort.

And most importantly, if you can’t meet our requirements and you know it, but still want to ask us how to get your community more involved in supporting our sport, we are happy to help.  As the National Governing Body for the sport, our job is to provide people with information on how to start a league, how to find officials and how to grow the sport.  We want lacrosse to continue to grow and we are always seeking allies to help us with that.

Photo: John Strohsacker / LaxPhotos.comBeth Porreca

Beth holds a BS in Sport Management from Daniel Webster College and a Master of Education in Sports Administration from Temple University.  She is currently the Director of Events at US Lacrosse where she is responsible for the planning and execution of 11 distinct national events annually.  She is also responsible for the planning and execution of the 2014 Federation International Lacrosse Men’s World Championships.  Beth leads US Lacrosse’s efforts to develop organizational strategy to direct the overall events platform, including evolving current events and developing new events.  Beth previously held positions with both Disney Sports Attractions and the US Olympic Committee.  She is currently enrolled in the CSEE program.

Come Often & Come Hungry to Louisville

February 26, 2013

When people think of Louisville, the Kentucky Derby or Louisville Slugger usually come to mind, but people might be surprised to learn Louisville has a vibrant and eclectic food scene. It is how we earned nods like being named one of the “Best Foodie Getaways around the World” by Zagat and the “Top 10 Tastiest Towns” by Southern Living two years in a row.

Locals are very proud of our great eats and it is easy to see why.  Louisville has a wide variety of restaurants offering farm-to-fork foods with award-winning chefs boasting the use of “Kentucky Proud” products.  A group called “Louisville Originals” features more than 30 unique restaurants, showcasing what real Louisville eating is all about. Far from what you might expect, Louisville has flavors from all over the globe including Ethiopian, Vietnamese, French and of course good old fashioned Southern comfort food.  There really is something for everyone.

We are also the “Gateway to Bourbon Country” so you can’t leave town without sampling America’s only native spirit.  This is a town that knows a thing or two about cocktails. The Old Fashioned was actually created right here in Louisville. Our bartenders also have a passion for pouring. As a matter of fact, Louisville bar MEAT was named one of the “World’s 50 Best Bars 2012” by Drinks International. They are just one of many bars in Louisville to quench your thirst.

We like to say “when it comes to food, Louisville brings a lot to the table.” You will find that it is absolutely true. Your biggest problem will not be finding a place to eat, but choosing where and what to eat. So come often and come hungry!

Gen Howard Headshot
Gen Howard

Gen Howard is the Senior Sales Manager for the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau.  She is responsible for selling Louisville as a premier sports destination and generating room nights for the city.  Howard has been with the Louisville CVB for over 4 years and has been in the hospitality industry for 15 years. Prior to joining the Louisville CVB, Howard was the Sales & Marketing Manager for the Hard Rock Café at 4th Street Live.  While at the Hard Rock Café, she assisted with opening the Louisville restaurant and managed all events, concerts, and marketing for the brand in the region for 5 years.  Howard started out her career at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, where she worked in various marketing & sales positions to promote and sell the Six Flags brand. Howard attended Western Kentucky University and received a Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communications & Marketing. Howard grew up in Louisville and is very passionate about the city and everything is has to offer both residents and visitors.  When she is not selling Louisville, she enjoys running, biking, gardening, and spending time with her husband and two sons.

Don’t Have an Appointment, Who Cares?!

February 19, 2013

The NASC Sports Marketplace is an invaluable networking opportunity, so make sure to do your research! Your first priority is to study up on participating event owners, so you know their needs and wants. Then, make your selections and prioritize them.

You will receive your appointment schedule in early April, which will outline who you will be speaking with at the Symposium. Didn’t get matched up with everyone you wanted to meet? Don’t stress! The 2013 NASC Symposium schedule is packed with networking opportunities, so there is no reason not to hit everyone on your “must-see” list.

Read on for more tips on how to make connections during the 2013 NASC Symposium.

  • Meals:
    Everyone has to eat, right? Make plans to meet with potential clients during the continental breakfast or sit next to one another at lunch. In fact, Tuesday’s lunch is specifically planned as a networking opportunity on the Marketplace floor.
  • Receptions:
    The Symposium’s evening receptions are organized specifically to give attendees the opportunity to network, so make sure you attend! These events are the perfect time to introduce yourself to that rights holder or the host city your group would love to go visit.
  • Rapid RFP Review Sessions:

New in 2013, this structured opportunity will allow attendees to spend eight minutes with participating event owners in small groups.  You’ll be able to hear details about events currently up for bid, ask questions and share business cards.

  • Reach out early:

Contact event owners in advance and use your downtime wisely. Make plans to catch up at with someone at one of the general sessions or during a break.

  • Extra Innings:

Before calling it a night, stop in and enjoy your favorite drink with a fellow attendee or potential client. Exchange a business card and make plans to follow-up the next day or when you return home.

There are opportunities around every corner during the Sports Event Symposium, so take advantage of the event and don’t worry if you don’t have an appointment!

Laura_Headshot

Laura Gurreri is the Director of Sales at the York County Convention and Visitors Bureau where she has been since 2002.  After a facility audit in 2007, Laura was instrumental in developing Sport York, a brand dedicated to promoting York County as Pennsylvania’s Premier Sports Destination.  This renewed focus on sports tourism was key to securing numerous state, regional and national events including the Keystone State Games, South Atlantic Figure Skating Championships and the National Horseshoe Pitchers World Tournament.

Bid Preparation & Presentation: Responding to the RFP

February 14, 2013

Ever wonder why you didn’t get the event? We all have methods for responding to RFP’s and perhaps that’s where you fell short. Here are some tips for responding to RFP’s that might help you the next time you target an event for your community.

Being a Know-It All

Before you respond, there are several things you should “know” when you make your decision.

1)      KnoW your approach – Are you the Shotgun (throw yourself at anything that comes along) or the Rifle (targeting specific events). As you progress to the step of making your decision, knowing your approach will help you find a better success rate because you’ll be more focused.

2)      KNOW YOUR METRICS FOR SUCCESS – Too often we focus strictly on head-in-beds or economic impact. While the metric threshold for each event will vary due to event size, it’s important to consider all the metrics you wish to use in evaluating your approach. Are there media impacts (TV/webcasts) associated with the event? Are there opportunities to attract a new sponsor: one other than the “usual suspects”?

3)      KNOW YOUR SUCCESS RATE – No metric is more important than knowing your own success rate. It’s the only measure of how well you’re doing and how efficient you are with your valuable, yet often limited, resources

Build a Go/No-Go Matrix

Everyone should have a set of metrics from above, along with potential risks, that is used to reach a decision on whether or not to pursue the event. If you don’t, you’re probably closer to the “Shotgun” model.

Know the RFP Critical Elements

Every RFP has 6 critical elements. Make sure they are all there, or begin asking questions. The six critical elements are: 1) History of the NGB and Event; 2) Scope of Services for both NGB and Host; 3) Required Proposal Contents; 4) Evaluation Criteria, Process and Timeline; 5) Financial Arrangements; 6) Venue Specifications

Fold Your Knowledge Into Your Response

1)      KNOW THE EVENT – If you haven’t actually seen the event, studied the operational issues, participant demographics and geography, you won’t be able to detail how you can enhance the event and participation.

2)      KNOW YOUR COMPETITION – By knowing the hosts you’re competing against, you’ll be better able to capitalize on their weaknesses and minimize any strengths they might have.

3)      KNOW YOUR CLIENT – Who will sign the contract and how stable is the organization? Are there any issues that may add risk to hosting this event? You need to know your own “deal breakers” so you know where to draw the line in contract negotiation.

RFP Do’s & Don’ts

1)       DO YOUR RESEARCH – Make sure you’ve evaluated all the positives and the risks, and built your Go/No-Go decision on good metrics.

2)      DON’T FLUFF – Be precise and concise. Make the response easy to read and easy for the evaluators to find what makes your community the best choice.

3)      SHOW WHAT YOU CAN DO, NOT WHAT YOU HAVE DONE – Every community has experience in hosting events. Use this to illustrate how you can enhance the event you wish to host. This step will help you stand out against the competition.

4)      HIGHLIGHT WHAT MAKES YOU UNIQUE – What is different about you that no one else has. Go back to the know your competition step and emphasize your strengths. All communities have golf courses; attractions; restaurants, etc. What is it about you and your community that will make the event more successful than it has been in the past?

Following these steps should help you improve your success rate. Good Luck and Good Hosting!

Greg Moore

Greg Moore, PE, PMP
Director of Tournaments
United States Bowling Congress
Greg.Moore@bowl.com

Finding the right events for your community

February 12, 2013

The National Association of Sports Commissions annual NASC Sports Event Symposium is a tremendous vehicle to join communities with ‘event owners’ and establish the win-win events that meet our goals and needs. The Symposium attracts communities from small to large and ‘event owners’ events that also range from small to large. It should also be noted that many of the ‘event owners’ have multiple events and those events have a wide range of participation.

As you plan your scheduling request to meet with ‘event owners’ it is extremely important to assess your communities assets and the ability for your community to conduct a successful event for a specific ‘event owner’. Some sample questions you should ask and answer before setting an appointment with a specific ‘event owner’ include:

v  Does our community have ample facilities that meet the specific requirements of the event?

  • First and foremost for a successful event is the quality of the ‘field of play’ for the event.
    • Do are facilities meet the minimum standards for field of play dimensions for the event?
    • Do we have an appropriate number of facilities to handle the expected participation?
    • If multiple sites are needed are the sites within a reasonable proximity to one another?
    • Can we provide excellent maintenance of the facilities throughout the course of the event?
    • Hotel Accommodations
      • What is the expected participation for the event and does our community have ample quality and affordable housing for the participants and their families?
      • Are the accommodations within a suitable proximity to the playing venues?
      • Hotel accommodations and rates are highly important to participants and their families and ranks second in importance next to the quality of the ‘field of play’.

v  Does our community have a population that will support the event and provide ample staff and volunteers to conduct a successful event?

v  Does our community have ‘stakeholders’ with the ‘event owner’?

  • Many ‘event owner’ for National and Regional Events have local associations or individuals that conduct the ‘event owner’s’ programs at local levels. Does your community have these ‘stakeholders’ in place that can support and lobby for your community to hold the ‘event owners’ events?

These are just a few of the questions you should ask and answer before requesting an appointment with an ‘event owner’.

If you know or feel that your community is a good match with a ‘event owner’ request an appointment and discuss future possibilities and bid requirements at the Symposium.   If you are not positive if your community is a good match with a ‘event owner’ schedule an appointment with the ‘event owner’ at the Symposium and use your time to discuss your facilities and other assets with the ‘event owner’ and inquire as to their needs and expectations for conducting successful events.

Ron

Ron Radigonda
Executive Director of the Amateur Softball Association/USA Softball since May 1998.
ASA/USA Softball Commissioner for Metro Sacramento, CA. from 1982 – 1998.
Served as Executive Director of the Sacramento Sports Commission.
Incorporated and Served as Executive Director of the Sacramento Sports Foundation.

Sports Legacy Fund 2013

February 11, 2013

As Co-Chair of the Sports Legacy Fund Committee, I respectfully ask you to join me in leaving a lasting impression on Louisville this April.  Yes, we will eat in the restaurants, drink in the bars and dance in the clubs – all in the name of networking, of course – but along the way, we can make a few kids smile too.  The NASC Sports Legacy Fund was established to make our host communities a little bit better after having us.  The Sports Legacy Fund has donated $16,600 to three organizations over the past three years.  And we are just getting started!

When staff at the NASC asked for a board member to chair the Sports Legacy Fund Committee, I immediately volunteered.  What a great opportunity to give back to a community, when I spend most of my workday asking others for help.  But enough about me…

Hopefully, you’ve read at least one of the mailings, emails, Facebook posts or Tweets announcing the 2013 Sports Legacy Fund beneficiary.  To be safe, let me summarize.  Run.Louisville,Run!  is a program developed by the YMCA of Greater Louisville in conjunction with Jefferson City Public Schools.  The task “challenges youth to train for and compete in the Triple Crown of Running”.  Kids, 12-18, will participate in multiple running challenges to prepare for the spring finale – a 10-mile race.  The Sports Legacy Fund donation will allow Run.Louisville,Run! to increase the number of participants to over 200, while reducing, or eliminating, participation fees.

Back to the original request – Will you join me, my fellow Co-Chair – Ed Hruska, and our dedicated Sports Legacy Fund Committee members in making a lasting impression on Louisville?  Your part is easy – we’ve spent most of the last year doing the heavy lifting.

Your organization can donate to the Sports Legacy Fund by,

1. Checking the box on your membership renewal application,
2. Checking the box on your NASC Sports Event Symposium registration,
3. Clicking the link on the Sports Legacy Fund  page of http://www.sportscommissions.org,

Or

4. Providing an item for the silent auction and raffle.

Personally, you can help us exceed our goals by purchasing raffle tickets and bidding high on the auction items. Trust me, you want to have cash and a valid credit card with you at all times.  You will have the opportunity to purchase everything from luxury hotel packages, to pro-style BMX bikes, to industry-specific advertising and event registrations (hint, hint Mark Zimmerman)!

If this is your 1st, 2nd or 7th time reading about the Sports Legacy Fund, I appreciate your attention through my sales pitch.  I look forward to seeing all of you, in April, as we give back to a few kids in Louisville.

All the best,

Jennifer E. Hawkins
Co-Chair
Jennifer Hawkins webJennifer Hawkins has served as the Sports Marketing Director for VisitPittsburgh for the past seven years.  As their first sales director, dedicated to the sports market, she is charged with recruiting major sports events to the area.  Along with event sales, Jennifer serves as the local hospitality community’s liaison to athletic venues owners, sports franchise managers and municipal service providers. She has served on the Local Organizing Committee for various events, including the NCAA Men’s Frozen Four, NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, National Kidney Foundation US Transplant Games and the FLW Outdoors Forrest Wood Cup. Prior to working for VisitPittsburgh, Jennifer was the Assistant Director of the Tallahassee Sports Council.  She is a graduate of the University of Illinois and Florida State University.

Learning to do my homework for NASC

February 6, 2013

I’ve been at my “new” job here as Sport Sales Manager for the Plano, Texas Convention and Visitors Bureau right at three years now.  So, my learning curve has been fast and steep.

I fess up to not having a clue the first year I attended the NASC Sports Event Symposium.  Fortunately, I had the priceless benefit of falling into a great support group with the Dallas Ft. Worth Area Sport Alliance, where anywhere from eight to ten experienced peers told me what to do and did it with me until I was ready to do it on my own.   Newcomers now rely on me from time to time and I am as open and generous with them as my forerunners were with me.

The first year, I was just trying to meet with as many different groups as I could and build a network.  By the beginning of my second year, I had learned my inventory and assets and started matching inventory of fields and facilities with events and rights’ holders.  I tried to meet with the long list of every group that matched up; all the soccer groups that needed soccer fields; all the baseball groups that needed baseball fields and so on.  So, during that second year, I was still spinning my wheels to some extent, but I wanted to build a network and just learn.

I didn’t worry about dates and affiliations too much; I was building a broad network of rights’ holders that may or may not become prospects, clients or event alliances.  Conveniently, many people knew more about my inventory than I did.  Even if they were not affiliated with the appropriate sanctioning associations, I was learning a lot from them.  Often someone from the east coast would tell me more about a soccer club here in North Texas than anyone here at home because they weren’t afraid of stepping on anyone’s toes.  Every conference, I still learn a lot about my local groups from competing associations across the country.

Now, I am much more specific in my preparation and meeting requests.  I rate my targeted rights’ holders by room nights, ease of association with local clubs and wear and tear on field inventory.  Then I make a list of open dates and facilities that I want to fill.  This process gives me an annual schedule of sport-specific inventory.

Like most CVB sales people, I have to work around our local leagues since they have first dibs on our fields.  I can “pre-empt” one weekend each park and each sport season, but I’m careful about pre-empting because I don’t want to displace my local leagues unless the tournament brings good room night numbers.  Additionally, I attend the seasonal league scheduling meetings and ask the league administrators if they have any tournament groups they’d like to host.  They don’t often speak up, but it’s just a common courtesy I offer to constantly try to improve my relationships with them.  I will eventually need their help in locating umpires and volunteers and it’s good to already know them before I have to make that call.

So, at sport conferences such as NASC, my priority meeting requests go to the open inventory I have to sell.  I research the sport tournament groups and find out what tournaments are at least regional or national in name and in deed.  By that, I mean, that some tournaments have “southern regional” or “national” in the title of the event, but until I can get team lists that show me the teams do indeed travel to the tournaments and stay overnight, it’s not necessarily a good room-night- tournament to me.  Texas is such an active sporting state that a team could play every weekend during their season and not have to travel overnight to find a tournament.  I need to find out if there are enough travelling teams to make a solicitation worthwhile and so I start calling and emailing CVBs, housing services and specific hotels to confirm room nights.

This process gives me “target” prospects and I contact with them by email or phone before I ever request a meeting with them to improve my chances of being “accepted” by them.  Also, preliminary conversations can often save time by weeding out groups that are not interested or by drawing out information about competing schedules or sanctioning that rules them out.  Even if it just rules them out in the short term, they seem to appreciate that I’m trying to save their time and effort as well as mine.

I have at least two major indoor sport facilities for basketball/volleyball and ice sports that I meet with regularly to find out what their preferences might be.  What is their “dream” event?  What event have they been to recently that caught their attention?  Do they want something high-profile or do they just want big numbers of teams?  The answers are usually driven by their business model and possibly a board of directors with specific interests.  I will add two or three of these “in your dreams” events to my meeting list.

Often these higher-profile events want local clubs to serve as host organizations so they can get a clear picture of the local facilities available to avoid unexpected surprises in that area.  Local support assures them of a participatory host committee and access to the local volunteer base.

The other thing I’ve learned about some of the high-profile “in your dreams” events that local clubs and facilities want to host is that these events are not always accompanied by the economic impact that the Plano CVB might require to sponsor such an event.  If we decide this is an event that would really be good for the community and an event that offers opportunities for good publicity about the City of Plano, we might be willing to take it on without big room-night numbers.

For example, Plano recently hosted the National College Table Tennis Championships.  For the several hundred room nights, we could tell it was going to be a lot of work, but, not a lot of money because they would qualify for Texas Special Event Trust Fund.  Plano has a huge Asian population and the largest table tennis club in Texas which gave us a lot of help and we were able to certify thirty new table tennis umpires through our volunteer recruitment and training.  It was the first time the tournament had ever had a certified umpire at every table, every match; a big accomplishment by our local table tennis club and the volunteer umpire trainer.  Additionally, we got exposure on every major network and newspaper because it was such an odd-ball event.  The Asian community was totally turned-on by the attention and being that they drive the excellent reputation of Plano schools and are the lead-draw to bring big corporations to our city, it turned out to be a great event for us even though the economic impact was so-so.

So, that’s my story and here is a list of my preparation activities that I do for NASC:

Ongoing activities to prepare for NASC:

  1. Keep a constantly changing list of rights’ holders and events I’m interested in and for which we have the facilities. This comes from publications, internet, news outlets and my network of contacts.
  2. Keep a permanent and constantly changing list of facility inventory and the dates they are available.  My best friends in business are the parks and recreation guys that control the inventory I have to sell and local facility owners and their sales people.
  3. Meet with local sport clubs and facilities to learn the events and groups they want to work with and which dates they have available.  I want to bring them what they want to host, given that it has hotel room nights attached.

Preparation that starts a few weeks before NASC:

  1. Call and/or email the rights’ holders I’m interested in to get an update on their needs and to let them know I would like to meet with them.  If I have organization contacts on several levels, I will try to talk to more than one person.  Everybody has different information and ideas.
  2. Call and/or email local contacts at sport clubs and facilities to let them know who I may be able to see at NASC and to confirm they want the business.

Preparation once I get the list of rights’ holders that will attend NASC:

  1. I will do more research on the top 5 to 10 rights holders on my list.  Most of this is checking on room nights and event venues.
  2. I try to have one last conversation with the would-be hosts (local clubs and facilities) for the events in #1 above, relaying some the details I’ve uncovered most recently and confirming their level of commitment.  I also ask them for promotional materials to take with me.
  3. Request my meetings and order their priority.  Often I will request meetings with rights’ holders that might be the primary competitors of the groups I am going after.  These are good places to get information.

Last things I do:

  1. Once I get my list of meetings, I’ll reach out to the rights’ holders I didn’t get a meeting with and ask them for some time outside the parameters of the NASC meeting slots.  I’ve never gotten a “no” on these requests.
  2. I prepare the materials I want to take that are particular to the meetings I have scheduled and the events I am going after:  park maps and a list of the assets and amenities associated with them; facility diagrams and photos; contacts at the facilities to make it easy for rights’ holders to reach and initiate contact.
  3. I’d like to get all the stuff in #2 above on my iPad so I can show rights’ holders and immediately email them the documents they might ask for, but I haven’t done that…yet.  The fun starts now!

Looking up smileCissy Aberg

Cissy Aberg is Sport Sales Manager for the Plano, Texas Convention and Visitors Bureau.  She is a former scholarship athlete with broad experience in sports including sport journalism, youth recreational sport administration and community outreach branding and operation for public sport figures.