The Sports Event Producers Guide from the Sources that Define our Industry Today

Having been an event producer for over 20 years, I’ve found that the best lessons are learned through first-hand experiences. I thought it would be very valuable to share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way as well as share some thoughts from some very experienced sports event producers working in all segments of our industry. So here you have it…. “Straight from the Source!”

THE QUESTION:

“If you were teaching a new Event Producer the ropes, what is the most important lesson or lessons you’ve learned along the way that would be valuable to their long term success?”

KEY INSIGHT:

BELIEVE IN YOUR VISION

“In this increasingly crowded world of events, it is imperative to stay the course and believe in your vision. The Under Armour All-American Lacrosse Tournament is a perfect example of this. Many told me that we should do it this way or, do it that way. However, they didn’t understand the full picture and all the parties that needed to be satisfied within the event. I was open to listening to their ideas, but we stayed strong in our original concept and made appropriate small tweaks along the way to make it come to life. Now, the Under Armour All-American event has turned out to be one of the best lacrosse events of the summer!”

Lee Corrigan, Owner – Corrigan Sports Enterprises

EMPOWER GREAT STAFF

“The best lesson I’ve learned over my years of running cheer and dance championships is that you can accomplish almost anything with a great staff/team. Having a strong event staff is, by far, the most important component of running a great sporting event. You need to trust your staff and have your best people in positions where they can take ownership over sections or elements of the event. If you have a strong, empowered event staff, your event will run smoothly and be less stressful to you and your customers!”

Tres LeTard, General Manger – Varsity All Star

YOU WILL NEVER BE FULLY PREPARED, BUT YOU CAN OVERCOME

“Having done events so long, I thought I was accomplished in anticipating obstacles and overcoming challenges … until I encountered the very real fear that permeated our country after 9/11. In the six months between 9/11 and our major event, schools placed a moratorium on travel and parents kept children close to them. If our major event was to survive, I had to find a way to make this event as safe and secure as possible in the face of very real fears.

My event team applied a “What if …” mentality to emergency planning. What if … there was

another attack and the airlines closed down for three days? (We contracted with a bus

company to transport the cheerleaders if needed.) What if this or that happened? We created scenarios and planned responses for all potential threats.

Once we had done all we could do, the biggest challenge of my professional career was to

speak to every coach and numerous parents to assure them that we were as prepared as anyone could be to respond to any threat. I cannot tell you how many coaches and parents told me what a positive return to normal happened once they had committed to come to our event.

The realization that our events represented anticipation … future joy … moving forward… became clear to me after 9/11.”

Gwen Holtsclaw, Creator & President – Cheer Ltd.

4. BE FLEXIBLE

“No matter what the event is or how many years you have hosted it, there will always be something that will change from your original plan. You must go into an event relaxed and with an open mind for adjustment. Things will happen. Mother nature will wreak havoc, your original floor plan may not fit the way you planned, or you find out your awards shipped to the wrong address. You have to have an action plan. Having this plan B will help you remain calm and flexible.”

Kristy Cox, Senior Manager of Events – USA VOLLEYBALL

GET IT ALL IN WRITING

“Make sure the hotel contracts and the venue contracts are signed at the same time for an event to avoid any breakdown in contracting. If you contract a venue, then work on contracting the hotel rooms at the same time or you risk not having enough accommodations for your attendees. Also, make sure to build in growth for your event space and room contracts. We have seen 15%-22% growth in our events, and want to plan for this moving forward.”

Christine Strong-Simmons, Senior Director of Operations and Events – USA FENCING

DON’T TAKE THEM FOR GRANTED

“The best lesson I learned from running an amateur event is to never take your clients for granted. When you open registration for an event, never assume teams who came last year will return the following year. There will always be competition. You need to treat each client as if they are your only client. The Victory Event Series continues to discuss new events that meet our client’s needs. It also very important to listen and make good financial decisions that lead to successful events.”

Jeff Long, Owner – Pattison Sports Group/Victory Lacrosse

STOP AND TAKE IT IN

“As event producers, we’ve gained a lot of experiences while creating and running our events. We took lessons from them to not only grow our events, but to grow ourselves personally too. When you are a person who creates and runs events for our youth, there is an internal responsibility to make it an experience they will not forget. When I was a youth athlete who competed in events, I could often not tell you the name of the company that produced the event. However, I remembered the excitement it brought me… and those are the memories that last a lifetime. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that we have an amazing job that we should enjoy and take pride in! We truly are creating those lifetime memories. Sometimes, you need to step back and stop running all of the details a bit. Take it all in and make those moments your memories too!”

Serena Andrews, Owner – Team Travel Source

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