Dear Event Doctor:
We’re considering making a bid to bring a championship to our city, but the proposed event date coincides with one of the largest festivals held in our city each year. We are going to propose incorporating some ancillary events for the sporting event as part of the festival. Do you think the event organizer will see that as a deterrent or as a benefit?
It could be either or both. But either way, it will be a challenge. The festival likely has multiple sponsors, and almost certainly some of them will conflict with the sponsors of your event. Trying to pull the events together will inevitably lead to conflicts between the two organizations’ commercial partners. But in some cases it can be done—as long as you approach it with great delicacy.
If you have a large number of shared and non-competing sponsors, some amount of cross-activation—that is, the events promote each other through the efforts of their sponsor partners—is certainly possible. That is how to best incorporate some of the activities associated with your event property into another event property. Or, if the festival has advertising-free zones, it is possible to locate your event there without annoying your partners. (This is how the NHL All-Star Weekend in St. Paul, Minnesota, was able to coexist with the annual Saint Paul Winter Carnival in 2004.)
The real conflict, however, could lie with the allocation of infrastructure and city services. If both organizations hosting big events compete for hotel rooms, meeting facilities, city services and media coverage in a region where these resources are in limited supply, the results can be catastrophic. Traffic congestion may also be a problem. Worst of all, the festival and sports event could be competing to get an audience, and both events could suffer from lighter attendance than might be possible if they were held on different days. Finally, if you rely on developing local sponsors, the market may be scarce when competing against a large annual festival. These partners benefit more when major events are held at different times of the year. Overall, my choice would always be to find ways of partnering with large local events but not scheduling them at the same time.
This first appeared in Sports Travel Magazine and appears here courtesy of SCHNEIDER PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC.