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Holiday Scheduling: Which Events Will Perform Better - Those Held the Weekend Before or After Christmas?

2 Dec, 2015

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

It’s the most awkward time of the year for sports spending.

Christmas lands on a Friday in 2015, and that means sports planners everywhere – those who have all those tie-in events planned – have a choice to make.

Do you host your event the weekend before the big day, or the weekend after? Or some other time?

OK, it certainly doesn’t sound like one of the biggest questions facing humanity, what with Presidential debates, world politics and so much else at stake.

But still, people. Economic impact depends on this. So what do you do? Do you host your event on the weekend of the 19th and 20th or do you figure people will be too busy shopping and go for the 26th and 27th? Of course, then you wind up with the possibility of potential attendees being out of town, or entertaining guests and unable to attend.

What to do?

Depending upon where you look, it seems neither set of dates is actually good. Running USA, which publishes a calendar of events (5Ks, 10Ks, marathons, you name it) has a dearth of activities on both dates. And while there are a few events here and there, it appears most folks want to stay away from those dates.

In some cases, event directors know people are tapped out, financially. Having done shopping since at least the early part of the month (or perhaps since November), many are unlikely to be enthusiastic about the prospect of committing money to something personal. And many people are just plain uninspired to exercise. They’ll start up the first of the year; hence the popularity of New Year’s Resolution runs, walks, tennis blitzes and more.

Of course, youth events are a different matter, since it is essential to take advantage of winter vacation times. US Youth Soccer hosts its ODP Boys Winter Interregional from Wednesday, Dec. 16th - Sunday, Dec. 20th. The calendar picks up with its Disney Boys’ Soccer Showcase, held from December 27th – December 29th. (The Girls Soccer Showcase, meanwhile, plays out from December 31st-January 2nd.)

College sports are also big. Daytona Beach has the NAIA National Football Championship Game, to be held December 19. The same destination hosts the World Kart Association Speedway Dirt Series, with both youth and adult divisions. And the 10th Annual Offense-Defense American Bowl will showcase high school students, but also attract their parents, to the area, from December 28-January 2.

While there is evidence that people plan to shop online more, and to stay out of the malls, that doesn’t mean potential athletes (or their parents) will be idle. A total of 65 percent say they will purchase products from the website of a brick-and-mortar retailer (versus other online stores), due to convenience, trust and security.

Therefore, it might behoove sports events to form partnerships with local sporting goods stores (independent running shoe stores or tennis pro shops, for example) and to hold pre-event activities in those locations, in order to satisfy the ‘shop local’ crowd.

For those who are planning to host an event (particularly for adults) either right before or right after Christmas, and whose event does not depend upon children’s vacation times, the following suggestions are useful, as provided by Active Endurance Blog:

  • Early promotion: Get people to commit to the event before they start their shopping

  • Ease of access: The event should be during a specific time, so that it does not take up all day (for example, a morning 5K, etc.)

  • The fun factor: Are you using seasonal tie-ins like holiday costumes or other gimmicks? It just might nudge some people off the couch

  • Constant communication: How are registrations selling? Are there any special deals? Is there a deadline for early registration rates? Keep in touch with all participants.

  • Don’t just use one platform: Too many event directors want to use only social media, or only e- mail. Recruit on all fronts. Develop hashtags for the event and increase visibility.

  • Envision what you want your event to look like: Work backwards from there.

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