Connect Sports Virtual Brings Together 180 Participants in Sports Tourism

September 15, 2020

On Sept. 9-10, Connect Sports, a live business conference and reverse trade show for sporting event planners and those in the sports travel and tourism industry, held its first-ever online event, Connect Sports Virtual. The two-day online conference attracted 180 participants — 90 attendees and 90 suppliers — seeking to gain industry insights, make professional connections and generate new business.  

In the digital event’s new virtual appointment lounge, 3,912 one-on-one marketplace appointments were conducted with the help of Connect’s matchmaking platform. Suppliers who attended indicated receiving an average of 4.8 new business development opportunities from the meetings, which were held in virtual break-out rooms supported by a robust virtual event platform. Planners attended an average of 23.5 virtual appointments each, according to Connect officials.

By combining the human-to-human experience of Connect Sports Marketplace with engaging virtual programming, Connect Sports aimed to rebuild business foundations for the sports tourism industry, said Patrick Higgins, vice president at Connect. The company — which produces marketplace conferences, magazines and websites for event professionals in the meetings, events, travel and tourism industries — has previously held smaller online events prior to this one.

“Connect Sports Virtual was a great testament to the power of continuing to bring the right people together in the right environment,” Higgins said. “We’re looking forward to continuing our winning streak when we bring corporate, association, faith and specialty attendees together with Connect Express [in October].”

During Connect Sports Virtual, virtual attendees were able to take advantage of five general sessions, two virtual networking functions and three marketplace appointment sessions that resulted in an average of 23.5 virtual appointments per attendee. Of those meetings, planners rated 44.5 percent of their supplier meetings as “Great Presentation,” 41.5 percent as “Immediate Business Potential” and 9.5 percent as “Deal in Negotiation.”

According to Connect officials, 73 percent of planners said they preferred the Connect virtual platform compared to what they have already experienced from the virtual events they’d attended so far in 2020. 

“This was my first year attending Connect Sports, and with the virtual setting and experience being so good, I can only imagine how great the in-person meetings will be,” said John Whitley, president of the National Travel Basketball Association. “This is truly a great way to meet new destinations and facilities as an event operator.”

Connect Sports Virtual attracted participants from 36 U.S. states as well as Puerto Rico and Canada. Sporting event organizers and sports planners made up the majority of attendees at 51 percent, while 39 percent were from CVBs and sports commissions, 5 percent were hotels and resorts, and 4 percent were facilities and venues. 

To learn more about Connect Sports Virtual, go here.


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