Top 10 Trends to Watch in 2020

 Posted on: December 30 2019
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As we put a bow on 2019 and roll into 2020, there are a number of areas we are watching in the sports events and tourism industry. Below is a list of the top 10 trends to watch in 2020 from Sports ETA:

10. Continued growth in the sports department of Destination Marketing Organizations.

More and more CVB/DMO organization leadership is realizing and investing in the ROI and ROM of a strong sports tourism segment. The results of this value will continue to be championed by Sports ETA. Stay tuned for more as we launch a new and improved State of the Industry Report at the 2020 Sports ETA Symposium in Kansas City.

9. The increasing role of parks and recreation departments in sports events and tourism initiatives.

Parks and recreation departments continue to play an integral role in the sports events and tourism landscape. We expect this trend to continue into 2020, particularly as youth sport specialization is scrutinized and communities see the opportunity for recreational sport competition benefitting tourism efforts and the quality of life among locals.

8. Destination evaluation of what assets they should have, versus what assets they do have.

In an effort to take their sports events and tourism efforts to the next level, destinations are looking to expand their asset portfolio by assessing the feasibility of new venue offerings. Look no further than the Community First Champions Center in Fox Cities, or the Panama City Beach Sports Complex.

7. Hand-in-hand with No. 8, a continued arms race for multi-field and court complex developments.

It seems like every week a new state-of-the-art facility is being approved, breaking ground, cutting a ribbon, or crowning its first champion. We expect to see more venues come online, particularly as economic indicators such as lending rates and the job market remain strong.

It is worthy to note, we will continue to evaluate the performance of these facilities over time, and resource this key segment of our industry through the Sports ETA Facilities Summit (more info on dates and registration coming soon). 

6. Rise in profit for event rights holders looking to capitalize on the lucrative youth sports market.

More and more people want a piece of the growing sports events and tourism pie (see No. 3 below). This growth always brings with it a swell of events rights holders looking to fill voids and provide opportunities in the sports space through viable business development. To address this need for additional resourcing of rights holder groups, Sports ETA is hosting its first Rights Holder Summit in conjunction with the 2020 4S Summit (more info on dates and registration coming soon).

5. Increasing third-party outsourcing.

With the increase in the sheer number of events, both destinations and rights holders are realizing that to maintain high-quality products, they may need to bring in some extra hands. Whether it’s outsourced event management, housing partners, volunteer management or otherwise, we expect to see an increase in industry-related serving and contracting.

4. Expansion of destinations owned and operated event portfolios.

While no destination organization can replicate the cache of certain events (there is only one Kentucky Derby!), they can – and are – expanding their owned and operated events for pretty straight forward reasons: Retaining revenue for their organization, filling a void in the community, choosing a venue/date, use of local vendors, retaining sponsorship, and fostering socio-cultural goodwill in their community (quality of life, health and wellness, corporate appeasement, etc.).

3. Steady growth of sports as the fastest-growing tourism segment.

The powerful sports engine continues to hum along. The slowing of participation appears to have leveled off a bit and sports tourism continues to be a growing percentage of the larger tourism industry. We’ll have a lot more to report on this in the spring.

2. Advancements in technology and innovation in the sports events and tourism world.

Pick up a copy of Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal any week and you will see the proliferation of technology and innovation advancements across sports, and this trend is matriculating into sports events and tourism, as well. From testing AI implementation in play-by-play commentary in sports to innovations in tournament management software, such as EventConnect, times are changing, and practitioners would be wise to keep their ear to the ground on ways to improve their business practices.

And the number one trend we are watching for you heading into 2020 is:

1. A watchful eye on national issues that may impact the industry.

2020 is going to be a big year on many fronts. We’re watching for updates in paying collegiate athletes, state adoption and implementation of sports betting laws, and overall economic indicators…particularly throughout the election year.

Throughout all these trends – the known and the unknown – Sports ETA will be continuing to expand ways to serve our membership through our EARN pillars (education, advocacy, resources, and networking). Don’t hesitate to contact us with your thoughts and feedback:

Happy New Year!

Jennifer Stoll, PhD, CSEE
Sports ETA Research and Education


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