Those of us who plan events know exactly what I am talking about. That was also true of last year’s US Sports Congress and especially the workshop we hosted on the first day.

Every event manager goes into the execution phase with the best of intentions. You put the plan together, it works this way and then something happens. What happened this year was enlightening. The main workshop on our opening day focused on connecting all sectors of the industry through a build-a-bike workshop sponsored by Marco Island/Naples Sports. Teams competed, built bikes, networked and created relationships. Through a series of challenges, they built bikes and were told they would be donated to local kids in need (the fact that we did this in mid-December during the holiday season wasn’t lost on anyone, let alone our sponsors). But when we brought the Boys & Girls Club of Fort Worth and the kids together with our attendees at an evening reception, the looks, emotions and excitement were hard to contain.

The dynamics of the workshop were really incredible. It was quite a sight to see CVBs and Sport Commissions working side by side with Rights Holders, NGBs and Industry Suppliers. That is what our industry is supposed to look like, right? It’s an interesting exercise and one that our friends at Marco Island/Naples embraced. This is what they wanted – to be involved in an activity that brought each sector of the industry together working towards a common goal. Each played their own role and brought something different to the table. Some were forced outside of their comfort zones, but in the end, all the bikes were built and safety inspected.

While we moved on to other activities and sessions throughout the day, everyone was still buzzing about the workshop session and no one more so than Parker Medley, Naples/Marco Island CVB’s sports marketing manager.

Parker Medley from Marco Island/Naples Sports helps kids choose a bike.

Parker Medley from Marco Island/Naples Sports helps kids choose a bike.

I mentioned before that we brought the kids from the Fort Worth Boys and Girls club to our evening meet and greet. We didn’t tell the participants and the kids were unsure why they were there. What happened next was the unexpected. The attendees of the USSC took great satisfaction in building the bikes for the kids. But when they got to see the kids receive the bikes something really magical happened. The expressions and emotions were not hard to miss.

We’ve turned the corner on 2015, but we’re already missing Fort Worth. One thing’s for sure – we can’t wait to see what our hosts in Lee County and Fort Myers have in store for us and we look forward to partnering with Marco Island/Naples sports in the future.

Plan on joining us December 5-7, 2016 at Sanibel Harbour Resort. For more information, click here.