A prospective client recently asked me, “What was your most favorite event to plan?” Hmmmmm? It’s easy for me to talk about the aspects of event planning that are most rewarding for me personally—or the types of events and services our agency excels at—but my most favorite event to plan? I was stumped.
I began scrolling through the “history of events planned” catalogue in my brain. It landed on an incentive trip to Martha’s Vineyard that required innovative strategies and whimsical creativity. . . a TEDx Boston program where I worked with the most interesting and inspirational speakers. . . a technology user conference with thousands of attendees—and as many moving parts. All were rewarding in their own right (after all, they did come immediately to mind)—but, still, no absolute favorite.
Then it came to me. My favorite type of event to plan is a money-can’t-buy experience—one that an individual or group might never be able to make happen on their own. At Castle, we’re lucky to be able to create unique experiences for our clients every day. And, this year, I had the privilege of planning two very exclusive, memory-making sports incentive programs to Super Bowl LI and the 2017 Masters Tournament.
National sporting events provide the perfect backdrop for once-in-a-lifetime moments. Anyone can buy a ticket to a sporting event. It takes relationships, creativity and a lot of hard work to put together a high-end incentive that is compelling, exciting—and memory-making. We created programs that included access to better tickets, special events and parties, celebrity sightings, sports figure meet-and-greets—and more!
Below are my top recommendations to consider:
- The Super Bowl is a top draw for incentives. Attendees enjoy pre-game hospitality parties with live entertainment, roaming NFL players, sports figures and cheerleaders; a half-time show with big name entertainment—and hopefully, an exciting game! At Super Bowl LI, our attendees saw history in the making. Their stories will be about how exciting it was to be in the stadium that night, how awe-inspiring it was to see the Patriots come back from a 25-point deficit, and that they witnessed the first overtime game in Super Bowl history. Oh, the bragging rights alone!
- Another one of our nation’s most popular sports events of all time is the iconic Masters Golf tournament. There is a high demand for tickets to this four-day tournament held every April due to its mystique and tradition, and because many corporate executives and managers play the game of golf. Augusta National Golf Course is a feast for the senses—even if you don’t golf. At the 2017 Masters, it wasn’t a first, but it was a rarity—a sudden death playoff!
- Because of its many accompanying high-society social events, the Kentucky Derby is a favorite event among incentive programs that include spouses. Three days of racing lead up to the final race. Churchill Downs is electrifying with great people watching—especially the women in their fascinators. When do you get the opportunity get all gussied up these days. And the horses…Simply beautiful!
Some other options to consider are the Final Four, World Series, US Open, Rose Bowl, Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500, and the Grand Prix!
What makes a sports incentive program so impactful? It goes way beyond bragging rights. Sure, all of our attendees can say they were there and may have a great story to tell. But it really comes down to how one feels when dialing up that experience. I think about who I shared the moment with. I think about the faces of the fans—and the group. I feel the energy and the awe of everyone around us. I think about how much I appreciated the opportunity—and who gave me the opportunity.
Sports incentive programs evoke a high-touch, up-close-and-personal experience, where memories are created and are lasting. If you’re looking for ways to reward, motivate and inspire your employees—and create new bonds—consider a sports incentive program.