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Getting people into your facility safely, especially when they want to be there, is an integral part of the new normal. Do you have a plan for staying connected to your community and providing expectations?

Like any business, including sports facilities, it’s about commerce

Sports and recreational facilities being largely public places, have been dramatically impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. While the easy route is to just throw in the towel, we know that’s not the answer. Sports and recreation venues are a critical community component of economic resurgence and deserve the planning it takes to regain the footing for the inevitable return of guests.

The role of marketing plays an important part in helping sports facilities charge towards rebound and recovery. There are strategies and tips that facilities can implement, whether they’re recently re-opened, or preparing to re-open, or are still in a holding pattern.

Strategies, Messaging, and Tactics

A good place to start in terms of strategy is to address evolving customer concerns, needs and preferences.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world and our expectations of venues. It’s critical that venues develop and adapt conscientious programming to accommodate it. A great example can be seen at Cedar Point Sports Center in Sandusky, OH, where working parents can place their children in an eLearning environment and are provided a School Day Camp. Enrolled students can participate in a traditional study hall, which includes physical education classes and art projects.

It’s a critical time to lean into and strengthen existing partnerships with organizations and businesses within the community, or establish new ones. Saying “we are all in this together” is not just a cliché, it’s a crucial fact during this time period. When your facility wins, your community wins. and vice versa.

The core of good marketing is clear messaging. Parents have concerns about safety, we all have concerns about safety. Therefor, the priority of safety should be the number one message, and that your facility has taken all recommended measures to provide a safe environment for both guests and employees.

These messages must be conveyed through social media, onsite, and through traditional media. At SFM Network venues, a FAQ was developed for parents and guests. It addresses safety concerns and what each facility is doing to meet them. The document can be found on respective websites and is referenced on social media platforms for full coverage.

Physical signage and carrying out procedures for cleaning and social distancing is essential. However, a sign can say one thing, but a customer-centric approach is another. It involves continual check-ins with guests to see if they’re comfortable with how they’re being treated, and how your efforts are working. Promoting successes speaks volumes to your audience.

Building connections with consumers and showing empathy is also critical. In the sports tourism industry, a great example that illustrates this is the #SportsTourismStrong campaign developed by Sports ETA. The campaign highlights efforts made by sports venues and tourism marketing organizations throughout the United States. It show the importance of sports, of maintaining connections, and giving back to those in need in their local communities.

Another example is the Panama City Beach Sports Complex who developed a video expressing the importance of sport, and how they looked forward to coming back to them soon. Not long after launching their video, other organizations released similar videos promoting how staff are excited to see sports being relaunched in their communities.

Re-opening your facility, whether it be sports, recreation, or event related, is also important for operators and event rights holders. This interwoven and supportive network of association is critical for communities everywhere. Because we are “all in this together”, remember to reach out to as many of them as you can to get your own message out.