Going for gold: Pulling off event planning for sports
A sporting event is an incredibly exciting experience, especially when it’s used as part of a fun and entertaining sports incentive for a business, its management team and its employees. A single, incredible sports moment can bring a group of workers closer together, helping them bond and even improve their confidence and communication with management and among themselves.
However, the task of organizing a sporting event can be incredibly intricate, particularly when it involves the top managers of a company or their top clients. It’s critical that you keep on top of all the moving parts, and ensure a smooth and fun-filled event. And it’s your job to plan, organize and connect with the right destination management company (DMC), to make this happen.
4 Key Steps to Follow when Event Planning for Sports Incentive Travel
While the main part of the event is the game, match, or bout itself, this exciting competition simply cannot happen without comprehensive event planning for sports. After all, it’s not the job of those participating in the sports incentive trip to find the ideal venue, contact local referees or officials, organize restrooms and concessions, ensure the right security, or hire a photographer to capture key moments.
And the above list is just a small sample of the moving parts you’ll need to consider for sports event management. Thankfully, though, you’re not alone in this endeavor – enlisting the expert assistance of one of our local DMCs can help you properly plan and oversee all the necessary essentials for the sports event planning process. And with the type of local expertise that our DMCs can offer, you’ll be sure you’re selecting just the right venue for a successful event.
Tumlare Sports, for instance, is a leading member of our Global DMC Network, with specialists across Europe and sales offices in Asia and beyond. Tumlare understands the very specific and unique needs of organizing a sporting event, and can assist in making the right arrangements to keep participants entertained and comfortable. Whether it is as part of a tour program or as an event itself, they know how to get the ball rolling.
There’s one thing you should know, though; event planning for sports, also when used as a corporate incentive activity, is a completely different monster than other types of event planning. There are certain, critical steps you have to make sure to follow. Let’s take a look at how to best tackle this type of challenge:
1) Determine the event purpose and unique aspects
As Social Tables advised, it’s important for event planners to first discern the exact purpose of the event, as well as the elements of the game or match that make it unique. All of your other planning considerations will stem from the purpose of the event, and the things that make it different from other types of get-togethers or tournaments.
While identifying the purpose of the event might seem easy (typically, your client will be able to provide this info up front in the event planning process), it’s key to consider all the essential elements the event will need in order to make it a success.
For instance, an incentive trip for company managers and their spouses may revolve around a friendly game between employees. However, it’s important to plan for things like varying athletic abilities among participants, comfortable seating and concessions for spouse spectators, and getting all the special details right that make an event unique.
Taking the time to think about these various aspects will help ensure that nothing falls through the cracks during the planning process.
2) Align with the budget and prioritize accordingly
Budget is an important consideration. While the client mostly creates and provides the budgetary limit, it is key for you as an event planning agent to observe this budget and not overspend.
Before booking anything or going any further in the process, it’s critical for you to have a comprehensive idea of how much your client can spend. You can then prioritize elements like the venue, organizing an MC and other entertainment, and other event coordination elements based on how much financing you have to work with.
“That fixed budget is going to have to stretch to make things work,” Social Tables pointed out. “The first step of putting those dollars to work responsibly is figuring out where they truly need to go and taking advantage of what takes precedence.”
3) Find your venue, arena or complex ASAP
This is where things can get a bit tricky, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area in which the event will be taking place. Your venue has to meet all the specifications of your stakeholders.
Many sports fields, whether it is for soccer, tennis, or others, are mostly reserved for club members and schools. Depending on the destination, choices are very limited and you need to book well in advance.
As you are selecting your venue, now is the time to reach out to one of our expert DMCs. They can provide unmatched local knowledge of an area, and can be a huge help in narrowing down available choices and selecting just the right venue.
Conference & Touring, for example, has considerable experience in event planning for sports and hospitality programs in Germany and beyond. While our DMC specializes in team accommodations and logistics for professional large-scale sports events, their years of experience in organizing MICE travel in Europe has also involved several competitions for companies themselves. Check out some other examples of their work here.
You could consider things like the availability of a locker room for employee participants, comfortable seating for spectators, and room for a drink station or concession area. Before proceeding, make sure to ask for any limitations the venue may have, such as noise regulations, or hiring outside staff for the event.
The overall success of the event will greatly hinge on where it’s located and what the venue can offer for your client’s company and their incentive travel. Don’t skimp on this step, and make sure you connect with one of our local DMCs to get all the details you need to make the best choice for your client and the team.
4) Match point: Details make all the difference
Once you have the venue chosen, you can begin to work on all the other smaller elements. This includes things like catering or concessions for participants and attendees, portable bathrooms (if necessary), hiring security and referee officials, as well as other entertainment. Your client may also want to include some company branding in the way of team jerseys, and hiring a photographer.
Another detail to consider is preparing a trophy or prize for the winning team, to add to the incentive nature of the trip. You could even combine the trophy ceremony with a gala dinner to create a truly special experience for your client’s company.
Finally, never underestimate the power of storytelling – this could be a display of the best pictures shot during the game on a screen during the evening program, or a unique gala venue filled with the sports’ spirit (e.g. like the FIFA Museum in Zurich). Details like this will make your clients remember the experience for the rest of their lives. Read our earlier post for more tips on how to organize a successful gala dinner.
Event planning for sports made easy
While this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of considerations, it is a great place to start. As with all types of events planning, preparation is key. From small things such as having an emergency kit ready during the game, or larger aspects like a well-organized bad weather alternative, readiness for uncertainties can help preventing and troubleshooting all issues that may arise. Our network of DMCs can help you with the organization in countries all over the world and give you:
- Unmatched local expertise about the area.
- Assistance in organizing accommodations, dining, security and an array of other important elements.
- Support for single competitions or seasonal tours.
- Flexibility with all the moving parts that event planning for sports entails.
For the most successful events, it’s key to partner with the right, local DMC who can provide the type of expertise to make sports planning and incentive travel a success – and win that gold!