Challenge: An association’s international trade show revenues were slowing to mid-single digit percentages after a number of years of double-digit growth. Exhibitors were looking for innovative ways to partner with new, non-competitive organizations to develop fresh opportunities and increase sales revenue. Association management was always looking for ways to create additional business value for its members.
Solution: Build a synergistic opportunity where two segments (destination marketing organizations and professional sports teams) work together to attract international buyers. These buyers would send their customers as overseas visitors to attend sporting events and scheduled games in local arenas and stadiums. The concept was first tested with a number of destination members that were located in major sports markets. Their enthusiasm and agreement to work together on the idea gave us confidence we were on the right track in developing a new market segment (professional sports teams), a segment that would provide well over 100 new prospects for the association's exhibit and sponsorship teams.
Results: Initially, sports teams were hesitant to participate, but once they saw the results (by booking actual international business) they were ‘all in,’ renewing their commitment to continue to exhibit into the future. During the first year, the association attracted seven new sports teams to exhibit at the show, that number tripled the following year and is projected to grow dramatically in the future. Destination members were thrilled to have a new 'sports attraction’ to promote and, at the same time, a willing partner who wanted to be on their team to build new international visitation together. Sports teams generated revenues from a segment (travel) they never considered pursuing.
“Throughout the years I have watched Gary identify business opportunities and work with diverse groups of people to bring those opportunities to life. A great example is how he coached the travel industry and professional sports teams to work together to build new international business. In this case, it was to jointly drive overseas travelers into hotels, attractions, stadiums and arenas throughout the country. This was a win-win for two business segments (travel and sports) who had never partnered with each other in a coordinated national effort and a testament to Gary’s strategic vision, methodic organization and relentless tenacity to succeed."
Stephen Revetria, President-San Francisco Giants Enterprises