One of the top challenges for sports tournament organizers of all sizes is trying to figure out how to create additional revenue from each event to make it all worthwhile. This is equally important when first starting out with a small local event as it is scaling to large traveling national and international tournaments and is a constant struggle for all to try and diversify their revenue and not rely as much on straight registration fees.
Below are 10 of the top ideas we’ve found to help you in expanding your events to become more profitable and sustainable long term!
Food & Beverage
One of the easiest and quickest ways to generate a little extra revenue is through concessions, food trucks, or simply grilling your own food and selling it to your participants. Most official sports venues will have some form of concessions they can offer or rent out to your organization, or allow you to bring in food trucks, where in both cases you can oftentimes negotiate a revenue share for all sales. A 10-20% split is fairly common, or they can help cut costs by feeding your staff and officials, or both for larger events.
Sporting Goods & Equipment
One rule we tend to abide by is if you require specific equipment to be supplied by the participant that is not provided by the event organizer, try and have it available for purchase. Not only will you almost certainly generate guaranteed sales, you never want to have send a player home for having the wrong equipment, especially at a traveling event. Some sports are easier or have more to offer than others, but having some commonly used or customized items for purchase is a good way to supplement your event income.
Players love getting memorabilia from their favorite events, and many times simply will help support your event by purchasing an event T-Shirt or the like. It doesn’t require a ton of overhead to have a handful of shirts on-site to help with raising more money for even the smallest events, up to a full blown store full of all kinds of event and company branded apparel for larger ones. Once your event starts to drive around 500+ participants or so, there are many companies that will fully supply and even staff a merchandise stand for you at your event with little to no overhead where you can walk away with 10-20% or more commission without any work at all. It’s not uncommon to generate a couple thousand and up to tens of thousands of dollars in profit from apparel alone for the right events!
There are thousands of companies out there actively seeking out events big and small to set up a tent or stand promoting their products to athletes and spectators willing to pay a little or a lot to attend depending on the size of the event. While you could pick up the phone and call local businesses to try and get them to come out, and some will, we also recommend browsing facebook groups for “(YOUR CITY HERE) Vendors” and oftentimes there are communities that already exist with vendors of all types waiting to get word of local events to activate at. Not only can you drive anywhere from a couple hundred to several thousand dollars through vendors, it’ll also enhance your event by giving your participants something to interact with or get free offerings from at your tournaments!
Raffles & Auctions
One creative way we’ve seen event owners generate some dollars is by hosting raffles or auctions at the event or pre-event meetings and festivities by raffling off sponsored giveaways or purchased prizes. Both are relatively easy to execute and provide a little buzz around the event, just make sure if you’re purchasing the products you sell enough raffles to make up for it.
A significant source of revenue for larger events, hotel rebates are a staple to many organizations for generating revenue, comped rooms for cutting expenses, and loyalty points for various hotel chains. Whether working directly with hotels yourself to set up blocks and requesting rebates and meeting planner points for every room booked, or using a 3rd party housing agency to do so which provided a lot of benefits on their end as well, we highly suggest integrating this strategy into your event plan. Hotels will really only be applicable for events with traveling teams, but even smaller events can still benefit to some degree as long as you are realistic with how many rooms you can realistically get booked when negotiating.
Charging a fee for entrance into your event can be a way to generate significant revenue, but isn’t always recommended depending on your event and fan base. You always want to balance the cost of attendance for your fans, whether it be through registration fees, sanctioning fees, parking or gate, and what it’s worth for them to attend, but for can’t miss events charging for gate can be lucrative. You need to be hosting your event at a venue that allows charging a gate, and is able to limit participants through as few entry and exit points as possible in order for gate fees to be effective.
Let’s say you’re anticipating 500 participants and 500 spectators for a 2 day tournament, charging $5 per day would generate an additional $2,500 – $5,000 in revenue (depending on if you charge for players or just fans) which can be a big help to you and not much extra out of pocket for spectators and fans. Multiply those participation numbers by 5-10x and add a couple days to the event and you can see how these numbers can be quite large and a big source of revenue that can really take an event from barely making it to quite profitable very quickly. It can be a difficult task to staff and manage, but there are also staffing companies out there who can make it easy and are well worth it.
Similar to gate fees, parking can be a significant contributor to the bottom line of many events. Charging $5-$10 per day per car at your venue where applicable could generate anywhere from a couple thousand to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the size of the event. Challenges are in staffing the lots, having a venue that allows you to charge for parking, not wanting to price out your participants, and planning traffic flow for cars so they aren’t stuck in traffic jams and late to their game times are all things to consider, but for the right events can be very worth the trouble.
Grants & Reimbursement Programs
One of the more complicated and time consuming aspects of fundraising for an event can come in the form of local, statewide or event government funded grants and expense reimbursement programs for your event. Some regions offer very lucrative funding opportunities though for events with different qualifications, anywhere from a couple thousand dollars up to hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars for the largest of events.
Qualifications typically revolve around driving teams and participants in from out of the city, county or state to participate, generally tied to your overall expected economic impact on the community and/or hotel taxes, and are many times best navigated with the cooperation of the Convention and Visitors Bureau or Sports Tourism organization overseeing your region or venue that you’re working with. Overall grants and reimbursement programs are well worth investigating ot see if it’s a fit for your organization or event.
Charge More for Registration
This may sound like no-brainer, but it’s often more challenging than you think to know when is the right time to raise your registration to generate additional revenue for your event. If you are providing a high quality event, can justify the cost to your participants, and have a comfort level that teams will still participate even with a slight price hike, it may be time to make some changes. Our events have been accustomed to a slow price creep over the years to keep up with added value we provide, and there are many philosophies behind how and when to price or raise the price of consumer goods with events being no different. Don’t be afraid to integrate price change into your event strategy if it makes sense for your organization!
These 10 tips will hopefully give you some ideas as to how you can become or increase the profitability of your sports tournaments and events, and we would love to hear other creative ideas below so sound off if you have other suggestions or comments to share!