How to Give Sporting Events a Business Focus

Mega sporting events like the U.S. Open Championship or the Super Bowl can be exciting places to entertain colleagues, clients, and prospects. In order to be considered successful meetings, however, they also must be treated as prolific places to conduct business.

"You could view a trip to a major [sporting] event … as a boondoggle. Because you don't want to be perceived that way, you've got to have that strong business purpose behind your investment," Pebble Beach Resorts Vice President of Sales & Global Business Development Tim Ryan, chairman of corporate sales for the forthcoming 2019 U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach, told Successful Meetings.

According to Ryan, giving sporting events a business focus starts with the invite list and ends with the agenda.

"Our customers are very strategic about who they invite, who extends the invitation, and how guests secure their tickets. For example, many people hand guests their tickets when they arrive so they can be guaranteed one-on-one time with them," Ryan explains. "Many companies set up appointments with their customers within their hospitality areas, and some will do defined business sessions one or two days before the event to update customers on their products or their sales plans."

It's also important to measure the business return on your sporting investment. "We have one customer, for example, who can tell you at any point in time where in the buying process each of the people he invited is and what that means to his business," Ryan concludes. "He builds a strategy around that and knows who he has to get in front of his top salespeople to close a deal."

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