How to Successfully Tap Into Big Data

By Eric Brandner, January 23, 2017

The growth of big data collection continues to make an increasing impact on decisions made by destinations and sports rights holders.

Consider this example from SportsPITTSBURGH. One of the DMO’s biggest events in 2016 came this spring during the East Coast Championships girls volleyball tournament. All it took to drive big tourism dollars was an ambitious intern with a Twitter account, says Jennifer Hawkins, executive director of sports development at SportsPITTSBURGH.

“We started with the traditional method of going to the event’s Facebook page [and Twitter accounts] to try to connect,” says Hawkins. “There was just no engagement.”

Hawkins says the heroic intern turned to hashtags to identify influencers who resonated with the young athletes. SportsPITTSBURGH then created master lists for spurring engagement when the tournament comes back in 2017 for the ninth consecutive year. This success story is only one way event professionals are using big data to serve their constituencies and simultaneously meet their goals. Here are three more.

Site Selection

A big part of NCAA Director of Championships and Alliances Jeff Jarnecke’s job is sorting through detailed pitches from cities eager to host a collegiate championship. His team combines information from the bidding cities with statistics from NCAA’s in-house data center, passing an aggregate report on to each sport’s committee for evaluation. The reports go deep.

“We look at the demographics of the area and what that site has done historically in terms of drawing attendance,” Jarnecke says. “We look at the grassroots consumption of this sport around that area as well, as measured by equipment sales of lacrosse sticks, for example.”

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