Sunday, March 17, 2013
Sporting events need stronger support
The week of March 10 – 17 this year was a spectacular week for Kingston starting with the Kingston City Run (March 10) and then CHAMPS (March 12 – 16). This precedes another massive sporting week to include Jamaica vs. Panama (Football) and the 22nd Venus International Volleyball Championship (March 22- 24). While the fire at the Wyndham was unfortunate and rooms stock depleted, there was the undisputed truth that Kingston was the place to be. Following the health fair, 5K, half marathon, after for the Kingston City Run, we should have had locations outside the stadium in select areas of the island where crowds could gather to watch the spectacle of CHAMPS to allow our residents and visitors alike to share in the vibe and the record-breaking track and field event. What then should have happened is a massive reggae concert on Saturday to give patrons an additional event to go to, as we seek to showcase the ‘best of Jamaica. Amazingly I saw an article in the Gleaner – Jamaica dips in Tourism Competitiveness – citing a lack of knowledge of the cultural experience in Jamaica. The article went on to suggest that many of our visitors know little of that cultural package Jamaica has to offer and that the marketing agency, the Jamaica Tourist Board, should pay keener attention to circulating that information to a wider global community. While I agree with some of that assertion, I also suggest that our event planners pay much keener attention to planning for calendar activities at least one year in advance to give patrons the opportunity to insert important events in their calendar. Much has been said about sport and its ability to attract a wide cross-section of patrons, much of whom are becoming the more affable members of society; they will have money to spend to ‘have a good time.’ That is the new trend of sport tourists and that good time includes not just the sporting event, but a great restaurant, party and access to good pieces of memorabilia. Can we at least get this going for 2014? What that means, is any event planned for January to July next year, should have already started some kind of planning, even to secure the dates and to get the right expertise on the teams. Go for teams of seven….no more, and take critical decisions to ensure the most efficiently run events. The decreasing sponsor dollar must attract the best return on investment and that to me is key. While the marketers look at the immediate returns on products/services, I differ and think a confident and assured consumer will eventually access the products/services later. Remember a disgruntled consumer takes seven times as much to convince to (re)like your services. The media is critical to the success of any event and with social media reaching far and wide, this platform must be used to promote and record the historical moments in all formats. We have to engage all demographics and create something for everyone, while focusing on a specific market share. If we commit to making sport an active part of our almost stagnant economy, we must make better decisions. Let’s look at the numbers, but do not underestimate the power of a satisfied internal and external consumer. I look forward to July 1 to June 2013 period, where Jamaica’s event will be structured around the strengths of what we are known for, a sporting destination with the best food, entertainment and PEOPLE.