SEP 2015

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 19 MARKET SEGMENT REPORT: Sports Events & Competitions "government and corporate business nicely since that market is during the week." Simmons pointed out that she has certain- ly seen an uptick in the outreach efforts by destinations, increasing competition between cities to win bids and improving the outlook for event planners. Robin North, vice president of sales and services with the Macon-Bibb County Convention and Visitors Bureau, pointed out that while sports was once considered "fller" between other business groups, "the sports market has become an economic driver in its own right" for hotels, restaurants and local services. Appealing To Families Destinations that provide solid sports infra- structures and packages that appeal to families can expect to be better positioned for attracting sports groups going forward, suggested James Linderholm with the Alabama-based Huntsville Gymnastics Center, as families are increasingly looking to combine sports travel with vacations. "The scheduling of the event must leave time for the family to undertake some other activ- ities together – more than just going out for a meal," he explained. "Hotels need to be fam- ily-friendly, and shops and restaurants ideally should be very close by and higher-end." Hosting sports events can be more complex on some fronts than other types of events and destinations need to be skilled in understanding the nuances, North emphasized. "Like most groups, sports events have their peculiarities. They typically have a good idea of their needs for their participants but not as strong an idea of their spectator base," she said. "That means we have to be more aware about the timing of the booking to make sure there are adequate hotel rooms available." Additionally, North pointed out that there is often a sponsorship requirement or participa- tion in a bid fee that is not encountered with convention groups. "For a destination, that means being diligent in verifying the historic economic impact of the group and forecast- ing future economic impact realistically," she emphasized. Regardless of the effort, there are defnitely more pros than cons to working with sports groups, according to Seltzer. n Kentucky Expo Center Volleyball

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