Five Questions for Sports Partnerships in Destination PR & Marketing

April 24, 2024
Group of diverse people cheering at a sporting event they heard about through a sports partnership.

Destinations looking to add sports partnerships to their marketing and PR campaigns are in luck—it’s a hot approach these days. And that’s not just because Taylor Swift is dating a football player.

Travel and sports are both leisure activities, but they need not compete for consumers’ attention. They can work together to attract it mutually.

Sports teams have a built in and established fan base that can easily translate into a new core demographic for DMOs. These five considerations will give you the foundation for building a lasting and functional partnership with a sports team or entity.

1. A Need or a Want?

First, before campaigning to incorporate sports partnerships into any travel plan, destinations need to assess the need to embark on this type of marketing tactic versus the pure desire to act. It may seem like a good idea to attach your brand to a sports team, but if your destination simply isn’t prepared, it may be ill-advised.

2. Is the Budget Realistic?

If your DMO assesses the situation and a sports partnership seems like a prudent travel PR approach to take, it’s key to know that such a partnership isn’t cheap. Buying into any established brand never is. 

Sports teams, whether professional or collegiate, possess a unique opportunity to place brands in front of an already captivated audience. You can expect a healthy six-figure fee, and partnership price-points increase from there.

3. Is There a Market Connection?

It’s advantageous to assess any existing market connections for your destination. Look for direct flights or a large diaspora population to understand how to maximize the partnership. Or on a deeper level, look  for any players on the sports team that have a connection to the destination. All of these indicators and connections will advance your cause.

Establishing clear avenues of connectivity between the team or market and destination allows for a seamless consumer connection. In turn, this lessens the barrier of entry in turning sports fans into travelers.

4. Is the Team Worth It?

Before entering into any partnership it’s pertinent you do your due diligence, researching the good, bad and indifferent to ensure nothing is a surprise or can negatively impact your destination’s reputation by association. Sports partnerships are no different. Even the most well-intended opportunity can have its negative impacts with a moment’s shift. Be prepared and put pertinent crisis plans in place to ensure your destination is ready to respond or shift.  

Additionally, in sports, winning teams make the needle move. Examine if this is a team with potential before you partner up. See if their fan base prevails through wins and losses. Although winning isn’t everything, it certainly helps.

5. Is the Execution Feasible?

Once the initial fees are paid, the expenses do not stop there. Integrations play a big part in capitalizing on sports partnerships. Consider the on-site activation potential, giveaways and media opportunities around the market you are targeting. You’ll need to augment the ability to interact with consumers and showcase your destination to press —in addition to the basic partnership announcement and in-stadium signage.

Think big! Make an impression! Whether you are leveraging a big budget or a modest one, finding ways to elevate a sports partnership increases your destination’s brand recognition and will drive visitation. 

The good news is that it’s always possible to get a little—or a lot—of help. DCI knows a thing or two about destination marketing with sporting teams and events. Just throwing that out there.

Interested in folding sports partnerships into your roster of travel PR tactics? It could be a slam dunk. To make sure it’s not a brick, get in touch with Ayana Young at [email protected] to learn a few tips and techniques from DCI’s more than 60 years of destination marketing and training experience.

Written by

Ayana Young

Account Director