EWR Sport Hosting Office at Sport Tourism Canada’s
Sport Events Congress
Bringing major sporting events and tournaments to Waterloo Region is a process. Yes, it requires having the proper infrastructure in place, but it also means ensuring organizers know what you have to offer, and that the proper supports are in place to ensure their event will be successful. That’s why being part of industry gatherings like the annual Sport Events Congress, which recently took place in Richmond BC, are so important.
Allister Scorgie, Director of Sport Hosting at Explore Waterloo Region (EWR), and Kelly Britnell, Manager of Business Development at EWR, attended this year’s congress to put Waterloo Region top of mind when it comes to hosting events for the more than 300 attendees.
“The Sport Events Congress is unique because it’s really the only time the entire sport industry in Canada can be found in one place,” says Scorgie.
“You have DMO’s like Explore Waterloo Region together with national sport organizations (NSOs), provincial sport organizations (PSOs), and suppliers like hotels and event producers.”
“You’ll also see organizations like the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees, representatives from the FIFA World Cup Organizing Committee among others. It’s important to be in the mix.”
Scorgie says attending the congress was an opportunity to share SHO’s message that Waterloo Region is an event hosting destination that is “sport first”.
“For any sport organization, the primary priorities when planning an event are finding the right venue, the right partners, the right place to stay – and ensuring the athletes, coaches, officials and spectators will be cared for,” explains Scorgie.
“We’re in the business of sport, and emphasizing we’ll ensure all participants will be well taken of care while they’re in Waterloo Region is key.”
IMPACTING COMMUNITIES POSITIVELY THROUGH SPORT
Scorgie says a key topic of discussion at this year’s Sport Events Congress was the importance of ‘social wellness’, and the impact of sporting events on host communities. “Positively impacting communities matters more than ever,” he says. “There were lots of panel discussions on how to better engage host communities, as well as how to measure social impact, diversity and inclusion, sustainability and reconciliation. It’s a complicated process to determine how to do all of that well within the context of an event, but it starts with discussion, engagement, and bringing the right partners to the table to affect positive change.”
SHO already includes social impact as a criterion for evaluating potential sport hosting opportunities. “Obviously we want to understand the economic impact an event will have for the Region and the impact it will have on sport locally. But we also ask questions about social wellness as part of our evaluation of potential events.”
Throughout the 3-day congress, the SHO was able to have direct and focused discussions with over twenty NSOs on hosting opportunities for the Region. Explore Waterloo Region was also well positioned as an event sponsor with its brand, images and video prominently displayed to the 300+ delegates. SHO also sponsored 4 professional development sessions during the congress which allowed Scorgie to directly address delegates.
TAKEAWAYS FROM THE SPORT EVENT CONGRESS
Attending sport conferences not only helps SHO put Waterloo Region on the radar of tournament and event planners, it’s also an opportunity to learn. One of the key takeaways for Scorgie from this year’s congress was how sport hosting has changed in a post-pandemic world. “The status quo from pre-2020 is gone and the entire industry is very fluid,” he says. “Everyone is trying to find their place and establish new connections. Sport generally sees a lot of turnover, but coming out of the pandemic it seems to be even more apparent so we’re building a lot of new relationships. It’s also created a change in how and where events are hosted – a fact I think Waterloo Region can benefit from.”
Another takeaway for Scorgie was that sport tourism is a 52-week season. “Many other tourism sectors tend to be seasonal,” Scorgie reflects. “Outdoor recreation, festivals, events and conference circuits generally happen at specific times every year. However, sport happens 365 days a year. It happens on weekends, holidays, and in all seasons. There isn’t another tourism sector quite like sport hosting, or that can offer quite the same impact.”