Everyone’s goal is to have a successful event. Making sure both the event planner and the local Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO) have the same vision and are on the same page is extremely important. Going through the bid outline or discovery process can help solve this issue. The details provided in this process often give the DMO the framework to work within. However, communication is the key. Without it, it is extremely difficult for a DMO to deliver the superior services that event planners look for.
CVB or Sports Commission?
There are different types of DMOs and sports commissions, and each one has its own structure, funding and way of operating. There might be one staff member a sports planner works with or there might be a multi-staff-member team.
Additionally, each organization has different goals. Some may be interested in hotel room nights, others are focused on national visibility, or in some cases, they have the goal of generating direct revenue from renting facilities. Either way, there will always be a main contact to work with. Understanding the way an organization is set up and what its goals are can provide helpful insight into the depth of services offered and how to effectively work together for a successful event.
Once the relationship with the main contact has been established, both parties can start the discovery process. In some cases, event planners have already created Bid Outlines and disseminated Requests for Proposals (RFPs). If the Bid Outline is detailed, it not only provides a framework for which the DMO can work, but often contains all the information a DMO needs to successfully support the event.
As an example, one of our confirmed events had a substantial cash sponsor back out in the middle of the planning process. This sponsor essentially had been expected to cover the entire rights fee for the event. Understandably, this caused a great concern with the local organizing committee. Luckily, the event planner’s Bid Outline included detailed information on the structure of local sponsorships so that the group could go out and solicit additional sponsors. In addition, the Bid Outline detailed the event costs. These costs now had to be covered by in-kind sponsorships and donations from the local community.
Without the detailed information in the Bid Outline, the local organizing committee wouldn’t have been able to act as quickly as they did. Luckily, everything was covered and the event went off without a hitch. The more information included in a Bid Outline, the better it is for all parties. A DMO knows the planner is extremely busy, and doesn’t want to be contacting the planner every time a gray area or issue pops up. Eliminate the gray areas by providing as much detail as possible in the Bid Outline. When the DMO knows exactly what the planner needs and where they can get creative, they can acquire the proper services and fully execute the planner’s vision for the event.
Working Out the Details
It’s not the end of the world if an event planner doesn’t have an official Bid Outline created. In these cases, it’s best to sit down with the main DMO contact and go over EVERYTHING. This way, the DMO can create an action plan and timeline to support all the event planner’s needs. This also gives the event planner an opportunity to verbally describe his or her vision for and purpose of the event.
In addition to the national events that our DMO hosts, we happen to have a large amount of local sports event planners who don’t have the years of experience a lot of other planners do. Sitting down with them and learning what their strengths and weaknesses are has allowed us to help tremendously when offering support of their event.
One local event planner relied heavily on local sponsorships, but had never created a sponsorship deck in their life. So the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission staff created a template sponsorship deck for the planner to fill in with the appropriate information so they could have something other than just an event flyer to hand to local businesses. This meant the world to the planner and the working relationship has been great ever since. Being on the same page is key. When the DMO fully understands what the event planner is attempting to do, they may even suggest potential add-ons that are unique to their community and might heighten the overall experience of the event.
That’s Not All, Folks
However, the project doesn’t end there. It is tantamount that the lines of communication remain open leading up to the event. Just as the event planner often plans multiple events throughout the year, so may a DMO. It is extremely beneficial to have regular check-in calls or e-mails scheduled to make sure that event preparation is still on schedule and running smoothly. Doing this ensures that work is efficient and specific event needs are met. It also eliminates (or at least minimizes the potential for) any unfortunate surprises might pop up as the date of the event nears.
When having the initial conversation, DMOs want the details and vision of the event. But the process isn’t just for the DMO’s benefit. As an event planner, this is the opportunity to find out what kind of services can be offered for your event. Typically, it helps to know what the dates are for the event, and whether it can be moved or not. The local DMO has a calendar of known events in the area and will have a good idea if hotel rates will be competitive or not. Sometimes it’s as easy as moving the event one week prior or later to avoid a high occupancy, and costly, weekend.
Sponsorship help is one of the questions we frequently receive. Ultimately, it’s up to the event planner to secure local sponsorships, but we understand how hard it may be to find potential sponsors if you are not locally based. DMOs know local businesses who often sponsor sport events and have been good sponsors in the past. We can provide a list of prospective businesses with contact information for the planner’s use. It works the same with vendors. As a DMO, we have worked with many different businesses in the area and know which ones have specific strengths and weaknesses. If minimizing cost is a priority, we can reach out to vendors who have typically responded in a positive way to in-kind sponsorships. If the planner is looking for something unique, we can find the right vendor for that, too.
And while we like to have the planner bring their athletes to our area, we also like to have our communities support your event so that the overall experience is one that will make your athletes want to come back year after year. Whether it’s social media pushes or getting in front of the camera with local media, the DMO can often get your event’s message in front of the local community. And no worries if a planner doesn’t know how to write a press release, as many DMOs can help with that too.
From parking to permits, to volunteers and vendors, DMOs are here to help events become what you want them to be. Don’t be afraid to send “too many” details (there’s actually no such thing) and always keep an open line of communication. Remember, the best DMO is an informed DMO. SDM