As I returned to the sports tourism industry after a short detour into other sectors, I was excited to see the new trends and how the industry had grown. The one consistent theme I observed was the significant increase in the use of technology to support the youth sports industry.
This included the significant advancement in the minimum standard of facilities. Nowadays, if you do not have Wi-Fi and mobile food ordering throughout the entire site, you are behind the times. The newer facilities even provide the destinations and the event organizer with consumer mobile tracking. Event organizers will no longer need surveys to understand their customers, they will now have numerous data points on their consumers with one click of a mouse. I observed significant increases in registration platforms, housing booking technology, and RFP distribution solutions. These RFP distribution solutions allow small to mid-size event organizers the ability to position and sell themselves to the right facilities and destinations.
However, there is very little information available on how to build your RFP to help those that are new to the youth sports tourism game create the proper RFP to get them noticed by the right potential partners. So here are some tips I have learned over the years that will help you compete on a national scale.
- Self-Evaluation – Take time to analyze your business. Do a SWOT analysis and be honest with yourself. Maybe you are great at operating your events, but do not have the business acumen to drive revenue through anything other than registrations? Or maybe you are a revenue-making machine, but your customer service is lacking, and you are losing teams to your competitors. Understanding where you are as a company and where you want to go in the future will be vital to selling yourself to destinations.
- Who Are You? – Give destinations a clear view of your company’s mission and purpose. Highlight why you are different than your competitors. Identify any causes or initiatives that you support. This will help paint the picture of what kind of organization you are at your core.
- Understand Your Audience – For the most part, you will be sending your RFP to destinations across the county, who will then pair you with the right facility. The vast majority will mostly care about “heads in beds”, basically how many room nights you are producing in their area. This is because their funding comes from hotel taxes. While this is an important element to the value of your events, it is not the only element destinations consider. Other key factors may include marketing exposure to the destination (TV coverage, international/national media, etc.), filling inventory in new sport-specific facilities, and/or aligning with a community’s initiatives (diversity, attracting young professionals, health/nutrition).
- Needs vs Wants – Identify a list of necessary, must-have items that you will need from a facility and destination to run your event. These should be items that must be secured or the event is a non-starter. This may include specific dates, the number of playing surfaces, square footage of indoor space, minimum hotel rooms on peak nights, venue requirements, etc. Once you have this established, you will know your floor and then you can add in your wants (wish list) items. This may include grant funding, volunteer support, sponsorship dollars, in-kind donations, etc. You do not have to identify which items are needs vs wants but it will help you when comparing the value of each RFP response. Providing a deadline for responses and giving a framework of your evaluation criteria will help make sure you receive qualified proposals.
- Provide History, Project Growth – If you are an established event organizer, make sure to identify what you have produced historically. Key items to include are the number of years the event has taken place, the total number of participants (local and out of area), spectators, and the number of hotel room nights produced. If this is your first event, you will have to “sell the dream”! Identify how and why your event will be successful and grow in future years.
- Testimonials – Use your network and previous customers/partners to showcase your value. These testimonials/referrals will help provide you with credibility and assist you in getting the most support possible. These can come from previous host destinations, hoteliers, vendors, and participants from your events.
I hope these tips are valuable to you and help provide the framework for creating a great RFP that gets you the responses you need. The goal is to package your event properties so that you get the most support possible, while also being honest with what you can provide. The goal is to find the right partner so that you can grow together for years to come. We at Pellucid Travel have years of experience in this industry and offer this service to our partners. We would love to learn more about your organization and would be happy to assist you in maximizing your RFPs!