First-Ever Connect Sports Virtual is a Success for Hard-Hit Sports Tourism Industry

Sports planners and suppliers ready to do business enjoyed 3,912 one-on-one appointments over two days with 100% of suppliers reporting they received new business development opportunities.&am

Connect SPorts Virtual

Connect Sports held its first-ever Connect Sports Virtual to help clients generate new business during the pandemic. 

Connect introduced a virtual appointment lounge using a state-of-the-art program that helped attendees conduct meaningful appointments in real time. Connect’s custom matchmaking platform ensured all attendees received a return on their investment. 

Of the suppliers who attended, 100% indicated they received new business development opportunities from participating in our virtual event and an average of 4.8 new business development opportunities. 59% of suppliers said Connect’s virtual event was better than they had expected and 77% would recommend the Connect virtual event platform to others. “The software was great and the meetings ran wonderfully,” said Todd Dibs, CSEE, the Director of Sports Development at Visit TriValley. “I cannot recommend Connect virtual meetings enough… Great job!”

“Each year those of us in the sports industry have an opportunity through Connect Sports Marketplace to meet up and continue to develop our relationships. This year, COVID-19 tried to take that away from us,” said Taryn Cass, Events and Operations Coordinator at USA Boxing. “But Connect Sports adapted and created a virtual, easy-to-use platform to bring us all together again. This year’s conference may be one of the most important we will ever attend because it is through these connections and sharing of ideas that we can successfully bring back sporting events to a world in desperate need of something to celebrate.”

Attendees like Cass enjoyed five general sessions, two virtual networking functions and three appointment sessions that resulted in 3,912 virtual appointments—an average of 23.5 virtual appointments per attendee. Of those appointments, 44.5% were marked in the portal as “Great Presentation,” 41.5% were marked as “Immediate Business Potential,” and 9.5% were marked as “Deal in Negotiation.”

By combining the human-to-human experience of Connect Marketplace with virtual programming, Connect Sports aimed to rebuild business foundations for the sports tourism industry. Adam Stluka, Director of Venue Relations at Varsity Brands, said, “Connect Sports delivered a very intimate experience. Even though the event wasn’t ‘in person,’ you still felt connected with all the attendees and speakers.” 

In fact, 52% of the planners that attended said Connect Sports Virtual was better than they had expected, while 73% of planners said they prefer the Connect virtual platform over what they have already experienced from virtual events so far this year. Additionally, 88% of the planners said they would recommend the Connect virtual event platform to others. 

“This was my first year attending Connect Sports and with the virtual setting and experience being so good, I can only imagine how great the in-person meetings will be,” added John Whitley, President of National Travel Basketball Association. “This is truly a great way to meet new destinations and facilities as an event operator.”

Connect Sports Virtual had participation from 36 U.S. states as well as Puerto Rico and Canada. At 51%, sporting event organizers and sports planners made up the majority of attendees, while 39% were from CVBs and sports commissions, 5% were hotels and resort and 4% were facilities and venues.  

“Many Connect programs, just like Connect Sports, are events our supplier and planner attendees have come to rely on to get business done in an engaging and interactive atmosphere. We’ve made a commitment to the meetings and events industry that we’re going to continue to exhaust every option to provide them with the same environment this year whether in person or virtually," said Patrick Higgins, Vice President at Connect. “Helping our industry close out 2020 as strong as we possibly can is something that’s very important to us.”

Higgins adds: “We’ve successfully conducted several smaller virtual events already and Connect Sports Virtual was a great testament to the power of continuing to bring the right people together in the right virtual environment. We’re looking forward to continuing our winning streak when we bring corporate, association, faith and specialty attendees together with Connect Express next month.”