Dear Event Doctor:
Our sports commission is interested in bidding for some larger events. But we’re not getting 100 percent buy-in from some of our city leaders, who are questioning how much hosting the events would cost the city. Any advice on how to approach our conversation with city leaders?
Like any effective managers, city leaders want evidence of what makes your idea so good. The key thing to ask yourself as you plan your conversation is, “What is important to our city?”
The most popular answers to that question are revenue generation and economic impact. Cities will want to know how much money will flow into their treasuries to offset their costs or even make a profit. Depending on the event, these sources of revenue might include sales and amusement taxes, hotel room taxes and facility rentals. Economic impact, on the other hand, is the flow of new money into the market that would not have been generated had the event not taken place there. Those revenues flow to area businesses that provide services as a consequence of the event’s presence. Some portion of those revenues end up in the city’s coffers when taxes are paid on the income.
The calculation of economic impact is often controversial, as there are many ways to develop these figures. And there is often an over-attribution of revenue streams that might simply replace money that would have been there anyway. For example, if the event is held during the hotel community’s busy season, how many of the rooms occupied by attendees, participants and staff would have been filled by tourists and business travelers even if the event had not taken place?
Many regions have agendas that go far beyond revenue generation when they consider pursuing events. Is this an opportune time to showcase new event facilities like stadiums, arenas and convention centers? Staging successful events generates further business from more prestigious and lucrative programs. Has the area endured a particularly challenging period that affected tourism and other businesses? Will the event help change the national or regional conversation about the city and demonstrate it is “back in business” in a big way? Is there a charitable endeavor important to the community and its leaders that can be supported or enhanced by the event? Can you project television viewership, news coverage or other exposure opportunities and demonstrate how the media will help attract future business to the region?
Talk to past hosts (ones who will not be competing with you for the upcoming event) and research historical results to help you determine realistic metrics for success. Only after you do all of this homework should you argue your case.
This first appeared in Sports Travel Magazine and appears here courtesy of SCHNEIDER PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC.