Updates and research for sports cities

Six “handy hints” on sports event strategy

We are happy to share six “handy hints” on sports event strategy. These are a selection of ideas and approaches that worked well for various cities and regions around the world when we were assisting them in formulating their sports event strategy.

The list could certainly be longer and explained in greater detail, but it should be viewed as examples worth sharing. Moreover, the hints are not presented in any specific order.

When aiming to generate social impact from a sports event, it is often more effective to use existing programmes.

Host cities tend to invent and develop a range of new initiatives in the years leading up to hosting a major event in order to fully utilise the potential of the event. Our experience tells us that a more effective approach is to link the event to existing programmes, which lifts them and gives them a new focus. This is particularly the case with social programmes aiming to influence behavior, such as social inclusion, crime reduction, etc.

It is easier to get stakeholders to support one big idea than a range of smaller ideas.

When working on the implementation of a long-term event strategy, the ongoing support from various stakeholders is crucial. And very often such support is driven by a big event dream, like one day hosting one of the really big international events. Many other smaller events are also part of the plan, but a focus on a big idea is a driver for pushing the process forward year after year.

While the overall focus must be maintained, a city should always have both B, C (and D!) plans ready.

Due to the competitive market for international sports events, demand will normally exceed supply. This means that a city can develop a very nice list of events that it would like to host, but in each case it will face tough competition and no city can be expected to win every time. The event strategy must have a clear focus and this focus should be maintained over the years. However, flexibility must be an integrated part of the plan.

Timing is often the critical success factor when bidding for events and a city must make sure that its event strategy matches the implicit rhythm of the events.

When developing the event strategy and the list of events to be targeted, it is important for a city to get the timing right. Many events follow a certain pattern in the way they travel around the world, and a city must understand this when preparing its plans.

In international sports organisations, there are often only a few people who can say “yes,” but they are influenced by many people who can say “no.”

Potential host cities often forget this when lobbying international sports organisations. The top management, e.g. President and Vice-President, are the key decision makers, but they are not the only ones who should be approached by potential host cities. The top management are influenced by a wage range of people inside and outside the organisation and a potential host city needs to get all these influencers on board to secure support from the top management.

The months and years before (not after) the event is the best time to generate an impact from the event.

An event can be a very strong catalyst for development in many areas, but before is simply more important than after. Therefore, host cities should not get off-track by focusing on ‘legacy’ after the event, but should focus mainly on generating as much impact as possible during the pre-event period. An event can create a fantastic impact in the years leading up to it due to the excitement, energy and motivation generated.


By TSE Consulting

Sport as a powerful integration tool?

The next decade will be marked by large movements of population – because of international crisis (refugees), globalization (expats), urbanization (people moving from the countryside to the city). Welcoming these new populations and integrating them into their communities but also incentivising them to embrace the local values are seen as major challenges by cities all around the world.

By Héloïse Lacroix

How can sport events be strong catalysts for social development?

It was a few years ago that the main question being asked was whether sports events could impact the social realm of the host city or country. Now that several examples of such social impacts have been documented, event organisers are moving beyond the question of whether it is possible, toward the more pertinent question of how it can be done. There are three ways how sports events can be strong catalysts for social development.

By Greg Curchod

“It is all about the athletes.“ Or is it really?

“Without the athletes there will be no event”. “Without a happy athlete there is no quality event. “ The very widely and commonly accepted view is that the athlete should be at core of every decision in sport, and that if it isn’t, then this decision is probably a bad one.

But is it really?

Well maybe not. Here’s why: the problem with this is that focusing on a commonly undisputed view might hinder the way to fundamental innovation. It might blur the path to the development of truly new ideas.

By Heloise Lacroix

Telling your story about being an attractive host city

Positioning, according to classic marketing theory, is about portraying a certain identity or image in the minds of a target audience. For a city that is interested in hosting sports events, this is equivalent to finding the right image, identity and message that the city should communicate to the world of international sport.

Thus, a city’s positioning should be based on the relative differences between the city and its competition, emphasizing the positive differences. Positioning should also address the challenges a city faces and leverage the opportunities it has.

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