Inside Events: Snap Soccer
18 Jun, 2021By: Mary Helen Sprecher
An Interview with Operations Manager, Zack Touchstone
Founded in 2010, Snap Soccer is a youth soccer event owner, putting on tournaments, leagues and playdates for the U-9 to U-19 age group. The name stands for Soccer Needs for All Programs and was originally an online e-commerce supplier for soccer lovers. In late 2011, the company pivoted to become an event management operation that now generates over $25 million a year in economic impact via travel tourism. Operations Manager Zack Touchstone sat down with SDM to discuss business.
Sports Destination Management: Is Snap Soccer a nationwide business?
Zack Touchstone: We’re located in the panhandle of Florida, and we do about 80 percent of our work in Alabama and the rest in Florida.
SDM: Do you draw teams primarily from that area?
Touchstone: We do – our tournaments are made up of primarily southeastern teams – generally Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana, with some teams from Texas and a few from Oklahoma. For one event in March, we get some teams from outside Chicago who traditionally participate during their spring break. They bring a charter bus and come down for the tournament.
SDM: How quickly were you able to rebound after COVID?
Touchstone: We were lucky – because of where we were, we were able to resume playing in June of last year – obviously in an outdoor capacity – and we were slammed with business. Everything last fall and this past spring was through the roof. Our tournaments looked a little different – we had to play longer days – but we were breaking records.
SDM: Do you think the pent-up demand contributed to that?
Touchstone: Oh, absolutely, 100 percent. I think some areas of the country will start seeing that this fall as well.
SDM: Is your season year-round?
Touchstone: Our slow time is in June and July because it’s so hot, although we do have a few small-sided events during that time. In August, we will get started with our regular season and that will continue through December.
SDM: What are you looking for when it comes to locations for tournaments?
Touchstone: First and foremost, obviously, we’re looking at the fields. When we look at a location, we’re trying to find something suitable for the skill level and the event we want to offer. Second, we are looking for a good location in terms of soccer. There are a lot of big cities – Nashville, Dallas and so on – but we see the secondary and tertiary markets as being more suitable for us. We’re also looking for a good partner in a sports commission or CVB.
We like to find places where there are some good hotels right near the fields. I can recall at least one place where that wasn’t the case; they had great fields, but the closest branded hotel was 15 minutes away by car and other than that, there were just a few local properties further out. For our tournaments, we like hotels that are more conveniently located. Fortunately, many cities, when they’re developing soccer complexes, or complexes for any sport, really, are also having hotels built nearby.
SDM: Are you looking for amusements and other attractions for families to visit in their spare time?
Touchstone: Yes, that is an added bonus; it’s not a make-or-break part of the deal but it’s really good to have. We’re always happy when there are a few extracurricular activities we can market around our events. In Foley, for example, you have great fields and plenty of hotels, and they also have an amusement park and restaurants, as well as plenty of other things to do because it’s right on the gulf.
SDM: How many days are the tournaments you put on?
Touchstone: We do weekend events. I would say 95 percent run on Saturday and Sunday, with a few that start on Friday.
SDM: Any idea of the room nights and economic impact per tournament?
Touchstone: On average, our events use between 800 and 1,600 rooms each. I just mentioned Foley and we put on an event there recently that had a little over 300 teams over the course of two weekends, and it made between $3 million and $4 million.
SDM: Soccer is really popular. What do you attribute that to, if there’s any one factor?
Touchstone: At Snap Soccer, we are under the impression everything is building up to the 2026 World Cup and we think soccer will just keep on exploding.
SDM: Are you a full-service event management company?
Touchstone: We take care of everything event ops-wise with tournaments. We’re turnkey and we come in with our staff and a truck and a trailer that are loaded up with flags, signs, tables, everything. We like to find a club in that area that can supply volunteers and help us put eyes on fields. One thing I will say is we prefer working with a venue that has its own management staff. We don’t want to have our people having to worry about emptying trash or anything like that because that pulls them away from the actual operations of the tournament.
SDM: If a destination is interested in hosting one of your events, how should they go about contact you?
Touchstone: There is a contact form on our website that is seen by our entire team, or they can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.