Archive for June, 2014

Creating Your Own Events

June 30, 2014

I’m Don Schumacher, Executive Director of the National Association of Sports Commissions and I’d like to demonstrate to you here for just a moment our commitment to personal fitness.  Everyone on our staff is now equipped with an exercise ball chair, and we think it’s a great way to keep fit.  And it’s a great way for me to start out a video where I talk briefly to you about creating your own events.  We’ve talked about this for years around the NASC and we thought we’d give you a brief video that would just have a few topics on it that I’ve put down on paper here.

How do you do it?  How do you create your own event?  One of the best ways to do it is to find an event in your community that’s already bringing visiting teams to the area.  Meet with the organizers of that event and see what’s holding back the total number of teams that are coming into the area from out of town.  It might be that they just can’t handle the hotels; it might be that they need help finding more fields or courts; it might be that the total weight of the whole organization of the event is more than they can handle on their own.  Once you find out what’s holding them back, look for ways to solve the problem: find volunteers for them, help them put the hotel block together, set up a Stay to Play system if one is needed, create a goodie bag system, where that event has discount coupons to area attractions, restaurants, and so forth.   In short, help an existing event grow.

If you’d rather start from scratch, then you logically go for the sport that you’re best equipped to handle.  Might be its girls fast pitch; you might have enough diamonds that that’s really the sweet spot for your community.  Meet with your local fast pitch community, find out if they’re well connected or well enough connected in the fast pitch softball community regional to be able to reach out and find teams that will come and spend the night while they’re participating in your marketplace.  One of the best ways to put these events together is to stress the many things that people can see and do while they’re in your area.  We’ve talked a lot in the industry about mini-vacations, and that’s certainly true when you’re creating your own events.  And why obliviously are you going to create your own event?  You’re going to create your own event so you don’t have to bid on it every year, and you’ll find that once an events established it can grow off its own accord.  I’d like to suggest,  there’s kind of a rule of thumb, if a team is going to come from 100 plus miles out, they’re going to be inclined to stay overnight, because that’s just too much of a distance to travel each way, back and forth.

And a final suggestion, financial stipends.  If you’re helping a tournament grow, that’s being locally produced and they need financial help one of the best ways you can help them is to provide them with two, three, four thousand dollars, whatever the reasonable amount of money would be in your market, which stipulation that that moneys going to be used to promote teams coming to your market from a travel destination.  So that you can be assured your money is not only being used to promote the event but its helping to build the overnight business.

There will be plenty more to say about creating events over the coming years but these are some of the hints that we found helpful.

Video blog: Don Schumacher, CSEE, Executive Director
National Association of Sports Commissions
Published on June 30, 2014

Why Sports Matter

June 23, 2014

Because we’re in the business of sports, we’re used to talking about the economic impact that sports has on our respective communities. It brings jobs, a livelihood, a spark of energy, a sense of excitement to our host areas.

But let’s take a second to look at the human factor of sports, and what it means for the coming generations.

All you have to do is look at the recent NBA Finals series between San Antonio and Miami. Both teams have been basketball powerhouses for several years, and have been in the media spotlight for longer than that. Expand that to the states in which they are located, Texas and Florida, and the NBA Finals have been held in one or both of these states eight times in the last 10 years.

That’s a lot of home town fans watching the best players in the league. No, scratch that, it means that’s a lot of home town kids watching the best players, and wanting to be like them.

According to the Florida High School Athletic Association survey, almost 900 more boys were playing basketball in the state last year than 10 years ago. In Texas, that state’s high school athletic association found there are 55 more high schools with boys’ basketball teams now, than five years ago.

Miami coach Eric Spoelstra has seen the change in just the short time he’s been in South Florida. “When I first got down here it was only a football city,” he said, “but now you’re starting to see a legion of kids and young generation of NBA fans that weren’t necessarily here 15, 20 years ago.”

More NBA fans means more boys and girls growing up playing basketball, developing a love of the game and, just as importantly, developing the skills to play the game at a higher level. That can mean scholarships for families who otherwise couldn’t afford to send a child to college and, consequently, the chance for a better job, a solid career, a better life for future generations.

All because San Antonio and Miami played in the NBA Finals.

And that’s just one more reason, why sports matter.

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Jackie Reau

Game Day Communications
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Cincinnati, Ohio 45203

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NASC Video Blog – Room Rebates

June 16, 2014

I’d like to talk to you for a few minutes about one of the biggest challenges we face in the sports event travel industry and those of you who attended our recent Symposium in Oklahoma City know that at one point during proceedings I mentioned this challenge, and the challenge is the increased reliance on room rebates and commissions to properly fund events.  It’s a serious development in our industry, one that 20 years ago did not even exist.  But today we are seeing an increased reliance on the part of either by event owner, destination, or by several groups combined to apply room rebates to properly fund an event, instead of watching the budget or perhaps instead of charging more for the team registration fee.

Now we all realize what happens, an event owner takes a look at the registration fees that other event owners are charging and they decide they can’t raise the rates, so one temptation is we won’t raise our rates, we’ll increase the room rebate.  I’m not sure I understand when the hotel and hotel room rates were suddenly the focal point of the sports event travel industry. It’s a disturbing trend folks.  If under one set of circumstances, a room rebate is applied for say $5 a night to pay for increased cost of officials or referees and when teams register they’re told there is an extra $5 for offsetting the cost of officials or referees and the room rate itself is reasonable, there is no problem, and the event can take place.  But let’s be honest with ourselves, one reason we came to the Stay to Play concept was to capture room rebates and the commissions attached through a third party booker.  That’s why we went to stay to play and that’s why, although it might not be 50% of the events in the US, a very large percentage of events in the US are Stay to Play today.

Let’s say the event takes place and the event goes off without a hitch, except for one thing.  The hotel room rate instead of being, say $100, is $120 plus tax every night, what’s going to happen?  Those parents are going to leave saying, “boy, it was a great event but we are never coming back to X Hotel, or XYZ destination again because its’ too expense”.  Those of you who are event owners aren’t getting away with anything under those conditions, because the truth is there should be fewer cities in the future to bid on those events once the word gets out.

So let’s all think this through, let’s all realize that when room rebates and commissions get out of control the people who pay the freight are the very people we work so hard to get to our destinations and if they leave dissatisfied they’re ultimately going to be dissatisfied with the industry.  Now how can we control this? First of all those of you who are setting the rebates and setting the commission rates need to keep them under tight control.  And secondly, the destination that are saying yes to some of these deals need to say start saying no to some of these deals because the cost is too high.  If an event needs, and now this is my personal opinion, if an event has to get more than say $15 a night in total commissions and room rebates, maybe that event shouldn’t take place.  And I certainly would submit that it might be a very good idea that destinations stop bidding on the event.  I’m just saying.

Video blog: Don Schumacher, CSEE, Executive Director
National Association of Sports Commissions
Published on June 16, 2014

Safety in Youth Sports

June 9, 2014

We’ve heard a lot about the effect of concussions and other health and injury issues in front of the National Football League. The concerns over sports safety now have reached the White House recently, where President Obama brought in representatives from professional sports leagues, coaches, parents, youth sports players and researchers to discuss the issue of youth sports concussions.

At the White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit, groups such as the NFL, National Institutes of Health and the Pop Warner Little Scholars pledged money and other support to help in the research for safer materials to give young athletes better protection in their respective sports.

The genesis for much of this came in a report last fall from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, calling for a national system of tracking sports concussions—including how often young athletes suffer concussions and in what sports.

Anyone who is involved in youth sports wants to see the safety of the athletes be front and center. And the issue of safety has some a long way in the last few years, with soccer and lacrosse players now wearing improved protective headgear and youth football players now being taught to tackle with their heads up, the goal being to protect from head and spinal injuries.

Still, the issue of youth concussions is top of mind for a lot of parents who want to keep  their kids safe. A report in the Wall Street Journal in January shows youth participation in the four most popular team sports—basketball, soccer, baseball and football—fell by roughly four percent from 2008 and 2012. In the same article, the National Federation of State High School Associations shows football participation dropped 2.3 percent in the 2012 season from 2008.

The causes of declines in youth sports aren’t clear. Experts cite everything from increasing costs to excessive pressure on kids in youth sports to cuts in school physical-education programs along with the safety concerns. The long-term issue is the health of children who become more sedentary, while the short term concern for cities and organizations who are the hosts for youth sports is keeping events going, and going strong, in your home town.

Keeping kids healthy while keeping them safe through sports is good for host organizations as well as for the next generation. Seeing top organizations start to invest in the safety issues is the next step in making sure youth sports continue to flourish.