Dear Event Doctor:

We are down to two potential sites to host our next championship event after winnowing the field from more than a dozen interested cities. Each of our finalists has its pros and cons but on paper they are very close. Is there any one factor you look to when you are trying to select one host city over another in the final stages of the selection process?

—Picking a Winner

Dear Picking:

Every event has its own set of priorities and every organizer their own preferences. For me, the suitability and services offered by the facility hosting the actual contest are paramount. No one leaves an event saying, “Sure, the event was held in a rickety old building, but I sure had a great hotel room and a decent steak while I was in town.” (I am not, however, discounting that the quality of accommodations is very important to the overall atmosphere of an event.) The host facility communicates to the participants and the public the level of importance of an event. Its investment in your success—with a competitive lease and cooperative attitude—counts for much in my book.

Overall, I try to determine whether the city is going to embrace our event and get involved, or approach it as just another piece of business to fill hotel rooms. Do the local government, business community and hospitality industry view hosting the event as a point of pride or simply a revenue generator? Are the local media generally supportive of visiting events or are they generally critical of pursuing them?

Most of these questions are difficult to answer from proposals alone. Many event organizers require letters of support from local officials and business leaders as part of the bid package, and although they are essential they are not generally binding offers. I have tons of letters on file from officials who subsequently were of little help, if any. It will take some digging on the Internet and conversations with other organizers that have staged events in that market. I find the most enthusiastic communities with a proven track record of supporting visiting events make the best hosts when all other business points are equal or similar.

This first appeared in Sports Travel Magazine and appears here courtesy of SCHNEIDER PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC.