Focus On Tournament Directors / Don't Let Opportunity Pass
In racquetball, how do you know when you're getting full value? As a sponsor for a tournament or a tour, how do you assess return? Sales? Sentiment? Reach? All of those things?
Tours, organizations and events have been the main way that racquet manufacturers have been able to access engagement. But if the organization isn't at an event, then there is no engagement opportunity at all. That goes without saying. But when looking at opportunity, tour sponsors should be relying on the tours to be present at events. That said, sponsors should also recognize the current climate and start thinking something is better than nothing at all, and recognize the opportunity of "being present" as opposed to "demanding full or equal value".
I say this because professional racquetball today is experiencing a choice dilemma,
specifically with tournament directors. Traditionally, the burden is put on the TD once they decide they want a pro sanctioned event to raise the capital pretty much on their own. They are promised support for that sanctioning, but in some cases, that support has been passive. So now, some well established directors are faced with the choice of facilitating in a climate that makes them choose between two tours based on financial and logistical reasons. The limiting factor, indirectly, seems to be the manufacturers, which to me seems ironic.
I say indirectly because, the single most prohibiting factor for the two tours coming together is what they are "expected" to provide to the manufacturers and partners. In some cases, there may be serious opportunities for the tours to participate in the same event in some form or another and what stops that in its tracks are what the individual tour partners getting caught up in what they may not be getting or worse, the value one brand will get over the other. And that is pressure. Yet, nothing is less than something.
There have been and will be opportunities at certain events that if the two tours can be at the same event. Just being a part, big or small. Opportunity is where opportunity presents itself. It's more important now that the tours be fluid enough to recognize that there may be events where one tour may be more heavily involved in some form or another. Whether it's sanctioning or streaming logistics and content. These are things that can be target areas that, through and with the tournament directors, can be negotiated. The art of negotiating is finding a path to an end result. Short-sighted protection of sponsor sentiment or territory will remove any opportunities for real growth. Saying to a tournament director, the life-blood of the tours, "How can we help?" should also include help that comes from a passive involvement that removes the term "ours". "Fair" should be the term held to the effort expressed at that particular event. If a tour can wedge in sponsors, even in the slightest or indirectly, it will be a win. Because not doing so, risks something far greater, growth and opportunity.
The table for talking starts at the desk the tournament directors are sitting at. The goal starts with the both tours empowering them to choose whatever logistical advantages they can access without removing themselves completely if their immediate interests have to shift. That is leadership. Removing your tour from the table forces the tournament director to choose sides and their greater immediate good. Staying at the table and thinking through these events, at the events, while they are taking place and after, is a deliberate choice to a future good of your tour. Ultimately, that will be the best thing you can do for your sponsors.