Stop counting! No really, I hear this time and time again, people are counting room nights to make their goal or do event reports or whatever. While I understand the need to do this, we as an industry are going about this the wrong way and you’re killing your productivity AND selling yourself short. To make matters worse, people from outside the sports event industry don’t get it either, including some people in your own organization. I am talking to you CVB peeps in the meetings market!
As a leader of the sports effort in a CVB and a sports commission, I get it because I have walked a mile in your shoes. I’ve found that everyone is focused on numbers. Let me put a finer point on this – they are focused on room nights. But if they are focusing on the room nights, there may be some serious flaws in calculating your economic impact. First, you need to get the numbers from the hotels. When dealing with multiple hotels this can sometime feel like trying to get gold out of Fort Knox. Second, you’re assuming that those numbers are correct. Not all hotels play nicely and most like to protect their data. Third, while hotel room nights are a large chunk of the economic impact, there are other factors to consider.
There are tons of economic impact calculators out there and almost all of them are so cumbersome that you need one staff member just to input data as a full-time job. Hotel data is time-consuming to obtain and unreliable. With that said, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula that works for everyone, but here are some ideas that will put you on a path to better measurement and may save you some time.
Leverage your relationships. The one thing we have in this business is relationships. We spend our time working to understand our partner’s motivation and business model. When we develop a level of trust with our client, it leads to a stronger relationship and you are usually rewarded with events. Use this relationship to obtain data from the event organizer. Ask them how many teams attended the tournament or get a list with just city, state and zip codes. From there, you can determine how many “out-of-town” teams participated and stayed in your hotels. Notice I didn’t say room block. It’s just too easy with all the resources out there to book outside the block. The exception to this is stay-to-play programs.
Use your staff and volunteers. Take a day and conduct a simple survey. Chances are you probably have some volunteers, interns or staff that can conduct a simple survey. It doesn’t need to be long, it can simply be two or three questions. Concentrate on obtaining data on the travel party size and where they are staying. This way you’ll be able to establish how many people truly attended the event (unless tickets or a gate is involved). Then you can also get that information from the event organizer and if they are staying outside the block. Heck, you can also turn this into activation for a sponsorship program. Answer my questions and we’ll give you this coupon.
Now we’ve established number of out-of-town teams and party size. Regardless of where they stay in your destination, you can now apply your own numbers for room rates, meal expenses, etc. and calculate a number that reflects the impact your event created. Chances are, with a little work on your part, this will be quicker and more accurate than relying on data from other partners.