One of the avenues our event business has focused on in the past is cooperating with other sports, or event complimentary organizations within our own sport, to host multiple events at the same location or city to mutual benefit. While multi-sport tournaments do exist, from my experience they tend to be operated at the city or state level and handled internally. We’ve had a great deal of success in our organization with the strategy of tournament co-op’s by networking directly with other event owners for all the reasons below, and would love to see the strategy become more common nationwide!
Factors to Consider
Before we jump into the benefits, we wanted to run through some general things to consider before jumping in head-first with another event partner. First is control, and many event owners have a hard time giving up any level of control in order to work together. Another is general risk of associating with an event organizer who may not deliver what they promise, or have issues with their players that may affect your relationship with the venue, sponsors, etc. Compromise may be necessary and evaluating the right partner you can get along with and not butt heads with if issues arise is key.
Benefits of Tournament Co-op’s
Increase your Exposure
The most tangible benefit of a tournament co-op and partnership is the ability to cross-promote your event to alternative fan bases who may give your brand more exposure. For some events it may even be possible to coordinate scheduling to allow the athletes to play in both, such as a youth flag football and soccer tourament, where you can have certain age divisions play morning in one, and afternoon in the other, among other possibilities.
Another form of exposure that may come along with having larger footraffic events via tournament co-ops may be from tourism departments who now see your event as worthy or supporting or enticing to host in their region, helping you cut costs and other benefits of parting with them. By itself, the event may not have the clout to find the level of support that a larger trafficked event would allow.
Share and Reduce Expenses
Depending on the arrangement you have with the partnering organization(s), you may be able to save or share expenses by working together. One example is an event we run at a multi-purpose facility where our event is large enough in itself to warrant the field cost being covered by the local CVB. We had extra fields that we knew we wouldn’t be using, so was able to bring in another sport partner to utilize the fields cooperatively at no cost to them, as well as have the fields striped, saving them several thousand dollars in expense.
Other ways of saving expense could be in the form of shared staffing, insurance, permits and other expenses that can sometimes be needed and dividing among the cooperating organizations.
Increase your Sponsorship Value
The more people you can have in higher concentration at an event venue, typically the happier sponsors will be with the increased foot traffic. For an event that happens annually, it will make it much easier to retain those sponsors and vendors, as well as bring in new ones if you can advertise thousands of participants and fans versus hundreds over the same amount of time and space.
Another perk of more players and fans and therefore more foot traffic is higher propensity for increased sales, whether that be through merchandise, food, gate fees, parking and other avenues. In the example above where we worked with an event partner by providing free fields, we benefited by their players contributing towards our sales in all the areas mentioned, which this event owner typically did not manage anyways, netting a win/win for both which is the ultimate goal.
Increase the Participant and Fan Experience
Most athletes enjoy watching and playing in more than one sport, so giving them options to do both at the same event can be an added value to both. Typically at events there can be downtime between games where having other sports they can watch can enhance their experience. Also more vendors and sponsors is always a boost to fan experience, which can be a direct result of the increased foot traffic a tournament co-op can bring, creating a well-rounded event.
Learn from each other
A tournament co-op may not necessarily mean running multiple events at the same time, it could also mean simply working with another organization at their event and offering to do the same for them at theirs in a sort of exchange of labor and information. A friend of ours brought the idea to us and we have since worked with a couple different event owners in a similar fashion and have had a blast while doing it. It gives you both an opportunity to help out with staffing, bounce ideas off each other and bring some unique perspective to each other’s events that can help you both grow. I would highly recommend working with another event owner whether in your sport or not in some capacity to get a fresh look at other strategies they may be using to enhance your events and develop strong relationships in the process!
Ultimately I believe that almost all event owners have some unique ideas and concepts that could benefit others and many times are stronger in numbers as well for all the reasons listed above! Let us know if you’ve ever worked with others in a similar capacity and what your experience was or other ideas you have for growing together!