Preparing for Your Appointments

 Posted on: September 13 2016
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As registration just opened for the 25th annual NASC Sports Event Symposium, it is never too early to start planning for appointments.  Whether you are a rights holder, DMO, sports commission, or vendor, appointments require some level of planning from both an appointment setting and discussion point of view. There is nothing more frustrating than sitting down for an appointment with someone who is unprepared for the meeting.

Whether you are a rights holder or a destination, the first thing you need to know going into a trade show with appointment style meetings is “know what you are selling.”  If you are a rights holder this means knowing the type of event, a time frame, and your minimum list of requirements.  If you don’t know what your requirements are, then how are destinations supposed to know if they can accommodate your event?  From the destination side, the DMO/Sports Commission must know its own inventory.  There is no point in meeting with a rights holder that needs a convention center if your community doesn’t have a convention center or a facility of a similar size.  Once you understand what you have to offer it makes the appointment setting process that much easier.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to do your own research.  When you are setting requesting appointments, you need to make sure you are requesting a meeting with someone that meets your requirements as a rights holder or that you can accommodate as a destination.  If you are haphazardly picking a destination/rights holder without knowing anything about them, then you increase your chances of wasting each other’s time during that appointment.  Look at their profile on the NASC website, contact previous hosts, or even reach out to them directly to learn more about them before you request an appointment.  The more you know going into that appointment the more successful it will be for both of you.  

If you have followed the advice above, the appointment will be the easy part.  If you are well researched, you will have already selected an appointment with someone that meets your needs.  As a rights holder, be prepared to outline the type of event you are looking to host, your facility and housing requirements, dates, and any other minimum requirements you may have for the event.  As a destination you need to be prepared to address each of the requirements laid out by the rights holder.  If the rights holder didn’t make it a point to highlight a particular topic (for example the number of restaurants in the area) then it probably isn’t a priority for them, so don’t spend a lot of time talking about it (if you talk about it at all).  You want to maximize the time you have by responding to the rights holder’s specific needs.   

The best appointments I have had are when the destination sits down and says, “I looked at your RFP and I have facility X that meets your needs.  It has X number of fields, with lights, X, Y, and Z amenities, and these are the available dates.”  At this point you can ask questions about details or answer questions that may not be covered or clear in the RFP.  The most important thing during the appointment is to establish a clear set of next steps.  Make sure both parties know who is responsible for the follow-up because sometime this can be lost in the numerous appointments that each of you takes over a series of a few days. 

 A final bit of advice for everyone is to keep it simple.  This can be applied across the board for the Symposium and other industry conferences.  You do not need elaborate set ups in your booth.  Since the marketplace is all set by appointments you don’t need to have a flashy setup to draw people in.  Keep your informational handouts simple and concise.  A simple one pager and a business card is typically all you need to exchange.  Remember, you only have 10 minutes to talk so you do not want someone trying to navigate your novel-length brochure to find the information they need.  When you are talking during your appointment, stay on topic.  That 10 minutes will fly by quickly, and you will run out of time to talk about what you are there for in the first place.  

Whether this is your first Symposium or your tenth, it never hurts to go back to the basics and make sure you are prepared to get the most out of your appointments.  If it is your first industry conference, then use the resources available to you like the NASC website, your mentor, and sessions at the NASC Symposium such as Sport Tourism 101.  It is just like the Boys Scouts motto says, “Be Prepared.” 

Matt Libber, CSEE
VP of Operations & Business Development Elite Tournaments
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