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Top Tech Trends: What Sports Planners Should Know

29 Jun, 2016

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

The intersection of sports and technology just gets tighter, closer and more essential all the time. As planners embrace the Internet of Things and the connectivity of sports equipment to smartphones, there’s less ability to opt out of tech-related issues.

Case in point: Successful Meetings recently issued an article listing the Top 10 Meeting Tech Trends. And in it is something just about every planner can (and should) be embracing.

10. Data: Sponsorship and marketing are essential skills, and driving both of them is access to data regarding potential participants, spectators, vendors and more. 

9. Mobile payments: It has already been established that mobile payments are going to grow; in fact, a 210 percent increase was forecast for 2016. According to Successful Meetings, events must be ready to process mobile payments for event registrations, fundraising donations, or merchandise purchases. As the public becomes more comfortable paying with their mobile devices, it’s up to events to keep pace. Note: This even goes for concessions, in larger venues.

8. Wearable devices: As an aside, the planner who has to ask whether athletes and spectators have wearables might have bigger problems than one article can solve. Count on everyone to have them – and be comparing notes.

7. Live streaming: Keep up or get left behind, say the pros. With the proliferation of events nationwide, particularly at the youth level, live-streaming becoming more readily accessible, and more companies popping up all the time, this has become an accepted way of engaging audiences, as well as building revenue.

6. Photos and videos: With audiences tuned to their devices, it doesn’t make sense to ignore the fact that they’re posting to social media, as well as their local organization websites throughout events. Create hashtags and encourage check-ins that can help you track the number of postings. (As a planner, this information is interesting to potential host cities of future events.)

5. Drones: Despite some snafus, the use of drones for aerial photography and videography of sports events is proliferating. It has also opened up a potential revenue stream for photographers who can make arrangements to get shots of individual athletes during a competition.

4. App integrations: Apps for sports events are one of the hottest trends out there and as more vendors become available, expect the cost to continue to decrease. Some hot trends like beacon technology and gamification should be investigated, along with information on schedules, venues and so forth. In addition, this has become yet another opportunity for revenue, since apps can be sponsored by a vendor, or contain advertisements.

3. Messaging: Nobody needs to say it: fast communication is essential, and not clogging up an inbox is appreciated. According to Successful Meetings, “Products like Slack, Facebook Messenger and other direct messaging tools are making event planners more productive."

2. Ticketing incentives: While the Successful Meetings article dealt with commercial events, it’s easy to see this trend could work not just for convincing athletes to sign up for events, but for convincing spectators to purchase tickets.

1. Content marketing: For those who are not yet familiar with the concept of content marketing (a very precise system of information delivery meant to keep the user engaged), this information from the Content Marketing Institute has a great definition. In short, an event owner or rights holder wants to differentiate his or her message from the multitude of others constantly bombarding the prospective athlete or spectator. Remember that quality content should be part of all forms of your marketing, including social media marketing, SEO terms, public relations strategies and more.

This is just a top-10 list. It doesn't even take into account other factors including the growth of eSports, the rise of line-calling systems, instant replays and virtual analysis, as well as other technologies that spectators and athletes are starting to take for granted.

The time of being able to say, “I’m really not a tech-savvy person” is long over, according to those in the marketplace. It’s not necessary for event owners to be programmers or code writers; however, an understanding of the trends in the industry can create better engagement with participants and long-term success with destinations.

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