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Although I have attended the NASC Market Segment Meetings in the past, I did not attend the inaugural 4S Summit in 2017. In all honesty, with new leadership and changes to the organization, I thought it best to “sit this one out” and evaluate the feedback post-event.
Between the FOMO (fear of missing out) and the extremely positive feedback I received from industry peers, there wasn’t a chance I was going to miss out on year two. I wanted to personally experience what was making the 4S Summit different from the past Market Segment Meetings. And, as a long-standing mentor, it was important for me to share this experience with both new members to the Association and future first time attendees.
From the moment I arrived onsite, familiar faces were surrounding me…in the hotel lobby, in the hotel restaurant, and even on the hotel elevators. Right off the bat, the sense of camaraderie was evident. To kick off the Summit, the attendees were treated to a reception at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The red carpet was rolled out for us (thank you Cleveland!) and for two hours, we had full access to the seven floors of rock and roll memorabilia. All I can say is that two hours wasn’t nearly enough!
Wednesday morning kicked off with enrollees of the CSEE (Certified Sports Event Executive) certification program headed to FirstEnergy Stadium to learn from Cleveland media and communications experts during the Elevating Your Media Relations Efforts session. Topics included Telling and Disseminating Your Story, Working With The Media At Any Size Market, and How The Pros Do It: Browns Media Relations.
Before jumping into an afternoon of learning, several mentors and nearly forty first-time attendees gathered over lunch; introductions were made, conversations were had and lots of questions were asked and answered. At our table alone, we had three mentors and the rest were individuals with varying degrees of experience and roles in the industry, but the one common element was that it was also their first-time attending the 4S Summit.
Now came the reason we were all here, to engage in the 4S's of sports events and tourism: Strategies, Services, Sales, and Sponsorships. Each of the sessions were standing room only as leaders in our industry spoke on the varying topics. Although my role is considered “sales”, I participated in sessions covering both Strategies and Sales during the Summit. Given more time in the schedule, I would have also liked to have experienced additional sessions in the Services and Sponsorships tracks.
After an evening of socializing and taking in Cleveland, we were back at it Thursday morning. At breakfast, we were all updated on the NASC relationship with Destinations International and the integration of their economic impact calculator for sports. Sessions resumed and the meeting rooms were abuzz with peers comparing notes and sharing content from the day before. Personal highlights for me on Thursday morning included Bidding Best Practices and Collaborative Partnerships.
As the Summit began to wind down, members of the Board of Directors took the stage at lunch to provide the attendees with updates on several important initiatives that they are working on with the NASC staff, including the bylaw changes and the rebranding campaign. The updates were well communicated and very informative; next year’s Annual Meeting during the Symposium should be exciting as we have the opportunity to help move our Association into a dynamic future. Be sure to also mark your calendars for next year’s events; the Women’s Summit will be taking place in conjunction with the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Tampa, April 3-5; the Symposium will be in Knoxville, May 6-9; the Chief Executive Summit will be in Louisville next November 5-7; and we’ll get to experience fall in New England when we visit Providence, RI in October 8-10 for the 4S Summit.
On the way to the airport that afternoon, I had a few minutes to reflect on some of the reoccurring messages that I picked up on throughout the Summit…Relationships, Trust, and “This is YOUR Association.” Whether it’s with your clients, stakeholders, community, co-workers and peers, relationships and trust apply to several aspects of our industry and you can never work too hard to refine these fundamentals. The last message, “This is YOUR Association,” is always a great reminder that we get what we put in and the more you give, it will be returned to you tenfold.
Lastly, I encourage everyone to attend the 4S Summit in the future; regardless of your years of experience or your role in the sport and events tourism industry, there were multiple takeaways and implementable action items in each session. But, don’t stop with the Summit, participate in as much of the programming that the NASC is offering as you can. Where else in the industry will your find your peers, clients and leaders giving of their time to develop content and programming that’s meant specifically for us.
If you attended the 4S Summit this year, I hope you found it as insightful as I did. For those who didn’t attend, I am going to venture to guess that you will next year!
Bonny Bernat, CSEE
Senior Sports and Events Sales Manager