If you’re not an avid basketball fan, you’ve probably had your fill of March Madness basketball, and the month-long nationwide obsession that concluded with the NCAA Championship on Monday, April 6.
As The Tampa Bay Times pointed out just recently, big time sports events are about more than just a love of sports. Whether you are talking about Super Bowls, Final Fours or amateur youth tournaments, sports are big business.
As Times reporter Jamal Thalji wrote in a recent piece, there's no sporting event too big or too small to pursue by both county officials and the business community in Greater Tampa. Sports are big business not just because of the use of venues, the ticket sales or the exposure, but in part because amateur sports alone “drove 20 percent of the 760,400 room nights booked in Hillsborough County last year.”
Now just think about all of the ancillary business that comes from guests visiting for events. Of course your first thought might be the corporate money spent by people on dinners out, cab fare and token souvenirs. But the fact that sports and other events keep the guests coming to hotels and venues doesn’t eliminate the need for marketing and reminder advertising.
As businesses, firms in the hospitality and tourism industries use promo products as much as any others. Yet, tourism’s use of promotional products and specialty advertising is more than a novelty.
When you travel you are likely to see logoed items in hotels and at end destinations. And tourism isn’t just about the cool “Vail” fleece worn by the ski bum fresh off the slopes. From classic items like the pens and stationary waiting in your next hotel room, to the health and beauty items and luxury swag like robes that make your stay more comfortable, hotels and travel destinations use every opportunity to plug their brands.
For example, high-end hoteliers like Four Seasons in Los Angeles got in the game for the Oscars by gifting guests with swag bags full of lip gloss, bottles of spirits, stainless drink ware and more. And if you’ve ever stayed at a Four Seasons hotel, you know that even their more mundane promotional takeaways are pretty nice too. On the same note, The Line Hotel in Koreatown, Los Angeles — known for its edgy industrial interiors and swank windowscapes — tapped into the cute and kitschy Hello Kitty Con three-day event with themed hotel swag. According to hospitality news blotter, Hotel Chatter hospitality swag not only adds a nice touch, but is more of a regular occurrence, with specialty totes now part of the regular accommodations at Paligroup Hotels.
That being said, you don’t need Hollywood connections to tap into the opportunities in the tourism and hospitality industry. The key is to start small and ask for referrals from your best clients and prospects to make inroads into any sector.
No matter whether your specialty is wearables, drink ware or electronic accessories, hotel chains, airlines and destinations, as well as independent travel agents and smaller hotels, make great long-term customers.
As with any entrepreneurial business, building relationships takes time. But by targeting firms in the tourism and hospitality category that regard branding as important, your efforts will pay dividends long-term as new customers come on board and result in repeat business.