Turnkey places a lot of value in attending various industry conferences. We find it very effective to put our employees in situations where they have the opportunity to engage with many clients/non-clients all in one location. However, there are SO many conferences to choose from, all of which have associated costs. As a result, we find ourselves constantly evaluating which conferences we should support and which ones we shouldn’t.

Personally, I look at the following criteria when evaluating the impact a conference will have on our business:

Attendees
At the end of the day, the sole purpose of a conference is to gather with others from the sports industry. I look for three things when evaluating an event’s attendees:

  1. Current clients: I want to see if any of my current clients are attending. Nothing beats face time with current clients, and it is significantly more cost-effective to see many clients at a conference than to fly to various cities and visit them individually.
  2. Titles: I want a feel for the level of those attending the event. Are senior executives and decision makers going to be present, or are the attendees more likely to be manager/director level and individuals who are doing the work in the trenches?
  3. Non-clients: I look to see that representatives from prospective clients will be in attendance. Conferences enable networking (see below) and if I can build new relationships face-to-face, I have a much better chance at generating new sales.

Networking
Networking is king. When it comes to conferences, I think the opportunity to engage with other attendees is the most valuable component. A 10-minute conversation at a conference breakfast or happy hour is twenty times more effective than a 10-minute introductory conversation over the phone.

Content

There are very few conferences that blow you away with content. In their defense, that’s often because it is tremendously difficult to create content that is going to appeal to the masses. Creation of content is often driven by getting “names” to present so that a conference can promote Mr./Mrs. XYZ as a presenter/panelist… and getting those panelists on board many months in advance is easier if those individuals do not have to create the content themselves and instead can simply agree to be on a panel.

I have found that conferences targeted towards a specific topic tend to generate more insightful content. For example, at a ticketing conference you will find more presentations and discussions that will deliver relevant, actionable takeaways than you might at a general sports business conference.

Vendors
I am biased on this element, but it is very important for me to see that other vendors are supporting a conference. Vendors bring tremendous value to the sports industry in the form of new ideas, new technologies and best practices. Many vendors work with hundreds of sports properties, league offices, sponsors, athletic departments, etc., and contribute an important point of view.

I want to see leading vendors ingrained in a conference beyond sponsoring the coffee break. I want to see them involved in panels and bringing a different perspective to the conversation. If it weren’t for vendors and their collaboration, our industry would not be progressing at its current pace.

I get refreshed and rejuvenated after attending a good conference, and look forward to the change of pace an informative, well-attended and well-supported conference offers. Below are just a few of the conferences that Turnkey Intelligence sees value in attending.

ALSD & CTIC
Green Sports Alliance Summit
INTIX
Ivy Sports Symposium
MiLB Winter Meetings
MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference
NACDA/NACMA
National Sports Forum
PACnet
ProVenueExchange (Tickets.com)
SBJ Game Changers Conference
SBJ IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum
SBJ IMG World Congress of Sport
SBJ Intersport Activation Conference
SBJ NASCAR Motorsports Marketing Forum
SBJ Veritix Sports Facilities & Franchises Conference/Ticketing Symposium
SEAT
SEVT
Sport Marketing Association (SMA) Conference
WISE Luncheon/Symposium

Like what you see from blog author Haynes Hendrickson? Follow him on Twitter at @haynesh.

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