“Straight From the Source” brings you opinions and advice from some of the most talented and experience professionals in sports tourism.
Having been an event producer for more than 20 years, I’ve found the best lessons are learned through firsthand experiences. But what do you do if you’re a new planner needing experience and looking to gain knowledge to eventually achieve long-term success? We posed that question to six experienced sports event producers in all segments of the industry. Take heed!
1. Believe in Your Vision.
“It’s imperative to stay the course,” says Lee Corrigan, owner of Corrigan Sports Enterprises. “The Under Armour All-American Lacrosse Tournament is a perfect example of this. Many told me that we should do it this way or that way. However, they didn’t understand the full picture. I was open to listening to their ideas, but we stayed strong in our original concept and made appropriate small tweaks along the way. Now, the Under Armour All-American event is one of the best lacrosse events of the summer.”
2. Empower Great Staff.
“Having a strong event staff is, by far, the most important component of running a great sporting event,” says Tres LeTard, general manager of Varsity All Star. “You need to trust your staff and have your best people in positions where they can take ownership over sections or elements of the event. If you have a strong, empowered event staff, your event will run smoothly and be less stressful to you and your customers.”
3. Address Fears.
“I thought I was accomplished in overcoming challenges until I encountered the fear that permeated our country after 9/11,” shares Gwen Holtsclaw, creator and president of Cheer Ltd. “In the six months between 9/11 and our major event, schools placed a moratorium on travel, and parents kept children close. If our major event was to survive, I had to find a way to make it as safe and secure as possible.
My event team applied a what-if mentality to emergency planning—imagining scenarios like the airlines closing down again for three days (we contracted with a bus). Once we had done all we could do, the biggest challenge of my professional career was to speak to coaches and parents to assure them we were as prepared as anyone could be to respond to any threat. Parents and coaches said committing to our event marked a positive ‘return to normal.’ I realized our events represent anticipation, joy and moving forward.”