Some of the most anticipated and televised events in the world revolve around sports. From the Olympics and the Super Bowl to the World Cup and the Kentucky Derby, sporting events draw crowds across all cultures.
When it comes to planning events around the world of sports, event planners have a unique opportunity to provide our clients with an experience they might not be able to have on their own. While getting a ticket to the Super Bowl is already hard to come by, being a part of a private VIP/Celebrity tailgate and sitting in a luxury box is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For this reason, sporting events offer some of the most rewarding corporate incentive experiences available, but for planners, they offer a unique set of challenges that must be considered in order to ensure a successful event. Here are five (5) things that should be top-of-mind when planning a sports incentive program:
1. Food & Beverage
When you think about food at sporting events, what immediately comes to mind? Burgers and hot dogs, pizza, french fries and popcorn, and cotton candy. At Castle, we challenge ourselves to maintain the culture of the sporting event while elevating the quality and creativity of the food and beverage offerings we select. For example, instead of a classic burger, we might offer a variety of pulled pork, buffalo chicken and cheeseburger sliders with a sauce-bar.
2. Housing Availability
Any hotel within a 30-minute radius of the sporting event has probably been booked by the hosting organization (i.e. the NFL buys out blocks of rooms years in advance of the Super Bowl), or if it not already blocked out, will likely sell out more than 6 months in advance of the game-day, and the rates will skyrocket accordingly. A partner like Castle can leverage our industry relationships to help you find and negotiate the best possible rate for your group.
With so many people in one place, attendee safety is a top priority. At corporate sports events like these, those safety concerns are magnified and there are often elements which are out of our control. As I once learned from Frank Supovitz, author of What to do When Things Go Wrong, as planners, we must prepare for anything, which is not to be confused with everything. Our team has emergency plans in place, and works closely with first responders during any situation involving attendee security. While there is no way to prepare for every single safety concern, we prepare ourselves by following processes and protocol that allow us to handle anything that might come up.
4. Something for Everyone
It’s important to always know your attendees. Are they huge sports fans who just want to watch the game? Are there families with children who may need a bit of added entertainment? The answer to this question will tell you a lot about the atmosphere you need to create at your event, and the ancillary activities you might need to plan. You want to ensure that all of your attendees are engaged, not just the super-fans!
Anyone who has been to a sporting event knows that one of the most difficult things to manage is traffic. The mass-exodus from a stadium is hard to avoid, but there are steps that can be taken to mitigate this issue. If you are fortunate enough to attend a sporting event in a large city, offering an after-party at a nearby venue within walking distance can both help alleviate transportation tie-ups, and also keep attendees safe. Alternately, shuttle buses running to a nearby parking lot outside of the stadium mean attendees can sit back and relax while the professional bus driver handles the traffic.
For event planners, organizing corporate sports incentive programs are an exciting challenge. By being mindful of these five (5) things, we can offer our clients and their attendees a one-of-a-kind and memorable experience that will stay with them for years to come.