Thursday, September 6, 2007

When sports playoffs collide with your convention

Have you ever noticed professional sports teams don't consider the timing of your meeting or conference? One advantage of a mid-September convention instead of our typical October dates is no potential baseball playoffs overlap. When we hit a second year in a row of Yankees-Red Sox playoff games (which led to World Series) during our meeting dates, it became clear to build the game into the conference at the last minute - versus having room full of people believe/know they were "missing something". When attendees follow a team their entire lives, they aren't going to become disinterested in a big game. Even a banquet sometimes needs to play to its audience.

What we did: Shortened the banquet program (kept start time). Told attendees we'd announce early scores during dinner and what time we'd end. Hooked up projector to the TV in room where dance was scheduled -- and showed the game during the dance. Attendees enjoyed dancing and watching the game at the same time (imagine people cheering while slow dancing). Kept them connected with our event. Knowing a "big game" conflict helps to build around it. Any lead time lets you alter program, make "game" plans, add items with team logos, put baseball caps on the emcees, etc. When the Red Sox won it became one of the most memorable nights of any conference. We provided, instead of ignored, a shared experience.

Side note about sports fans: Retired baseball, basketball or football players are big draw for trade shows (at least Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots players in New England). Many want autographs and pictures.

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