The need for rights-holders to find good host cities for their events, and vice-versa, has been in the public eye more than ever in recent years. In theory, of course, the relationship is mutually beneficial. The rights-holder uses a host city’s local knowledge and expertise to deliver a successful event. The host city uses the rights-holder’s event to engage its local population, attract new visitors and improve their wider perception.
Recently, the concept of this win-win relationship has been challenged. Host cities are increasingly wanting clarity on their Return on Investment, especially in light of tightening purse strings on public authorities around the world. The growth of protesting groups against hosting sports events, and the results of public referenda towards such hosting, further indicate an increasing level of scepticism among the public for hosting big one-off events.
So what can be done to reverse this trend, and ensure that the theoretical win-win between host cities and rights-holders translates into practice, and resonates among the public and public bodies?
One solution might be forming a longer-term partnership between host city and rights-holder, holding repeat events over a number of years. This generates several advantages for host cities. Notably the opportunity to:
- Increase budget predictability and long-term forecasting.
- Develop and finetune technical expertise, increasing cost efficiency.
- Establish a clear identity by building relationships with key media and target audiences.
- Create regular traditions for visitors and encourage them to get to know more about the host city/region.
For rights-holders, such a relationship also has its advantages:
- Increase long-term financial planning and stability.
- Improve reliability and commitment of host cities to achieve shared long-term goals.
Circuit events – whereby big events are held in multiple locations throughout the year – clearly lend themselves more to the repeat hosting model than singular, one-off events. Indeed, the evidence of the success of long-term host:rights-holder relationship is there for many to see, putting host cities on the map in a way that would be difficult to achieve otherwise. Think, for example of the Belgian F1 Grand Prix in Spa, the Indian Wells Masters in tennis, or the Ruhpolding World Cup in biathlon.
The market of exciting sports events and capable host cities has, perhaps, never been so dense. This is an exciting prospect, but also something that makes it difficult to know where to turn, and when. By building a long-term partnership, host cities and rights-holders can provide clarity to this matter and jointly work on their international brand and perception. A true win-win.