Organising a sports event: the different stages of strategic planning

To organise a sports event, it’s important that you have a clear and detailed plan that acts as a roadmap. We will guide you step by step through its creation to guarantee a successful sports event.


      1. Why are you organising a sports event?

      The first thing you need to know when organising your sports event is why you are doing it. What are your objectives?

      Depending on the event, your objectives can be very different. For example:

      • For professional competition events, the objectives may be related partly to the athletes themselves and what they can achieve at your event, and partly to the audience, who can enjoy a memorable sporting experience.
      • For some sporting events, you will be interested in the impact that your event has on society, particularly the impact it has on the development of healthy sporting habits among the population.
      • You may also have other objectives unrelated to the sport itself, such as tourism for the city in which the event will take place.

      2. What type of sports event should I organise?

      Without losing sight of the previous point, define the type of sports event you are going to organise to achieve the objectives you have set.

      1. Identity of your event

      Start to shape the identity of your event: what will it be called, what will its brand image be, what will the logo look like, will there be a mascot for the event…? Changes may occur as you build your strategic plan, but raising these questions at the outset will make your event more concrete.

      2. Nature of your event

      Is your sports event a competition or a recreational or promotional event? How important is the entertainment aspect? The decisions you make later must be perfectly in line with the nature of your event. Organising a yoga retreat is not the same as organising a marathon or an esports tournament.

      3. Type of event

      More concretely, establish the type of event you are going to organise according to different criteria:

      • Recurrence and duration: Is it a one-off event, a cyclical event, a single day, a single game or masterclass, or a tournament organised over 6 months?
      • Sports and disciplines: Is it a multi-sport event or a single sport type? What sport(s) will be practised at your event? If there are different disciplines within your chosen sport, will they all be included in your event?

      3. Where will your sports event take place?

      The venue for your sports event should be consistent with the event defined in the previous points, so these will serve as a guideline to determine the features that the chosen space should have.

      The facilities must be able to comfortably accommodate all attendees. If your event is a tournament on the beach, there is little doubt about the type of space you need, but even so, you will need to choose the right beach in terms of space, number of attendees, ease of organising with the relevant authorities, accessibility by public transport or by car, infrastructure available in the area, etc.

      If your event takes place along a route, as in the case of cycling, you will need to check which is the best route, choose the start and finish points, and consider the fact that you will need to set up mobile parts.

      Are you planning to organise an online sports class or event? Finding the right space is just as important. Look for a space that is pleasant and quiet and has good lighting.

      4. When will your sports event take place?

      Choosing the best date for your sports event is not always easy.

      Again, to do this, you will need to consider all the points mentioned above. There are some sports that need certain weather conditions to take place, and for which events are commonly held at a certain time of year. Try to avoid having your event coincide with another event that is very similar or aimed at the same audience.

      5. Who are you organising your sports event for?

      At this stage, take stock of all the people who might be interested in your event. It is important to take the time to list all the profiles of potential attendees in order to create a sports event that is suitable for everyone.

      1. Internal customers

      By internal customers we mean attendees from your own organisation.
      You may be organising a sports event for another organisation, such as a local authority, a charity or a sports club.

      2. External customers: attendees

      The first external customers are the athletes themselves. It doesn’t matter whether your event is aimed at professionals or amateurs, or whether it’s a competition or a recreational event. The athletes are the heart of your event, and without them, the event would not exist.

      3. External customers: spectators

      As external customers, you must also consider the spectators and how best to accommodate them. If you are organising a sports event behind closed doors or which is not intended to be seen, you can ignore this aspect.

      4. Other customers

      If your event is large, it is very likely that you will have other types of customers, people or entities with bargaining power and a strong interest in your event. These can include buyers of broadcasting and information rights, image rights, suppliers and sponsors.

      6. Who is organising the sports event?

      Carefully plan the human resources you will need to organise your sports event. Put together a well-defined and organised team, both during the pre-event organisation process and on D-Day.

      1. Organising team

      Create an organisation chart and divide the tasks, delegating while maintaining overall control of the organisation. A Gantt chart and project management software can help.

      Here are some of the main areas that your organising team will need to cover:

        2. Other human resources

        On the day of the event, depending on the event’s size, it is likely that your organising team will not be large enough to carry out all the tasks to be dealt with. We therefore recommend that you call on service providers and volunteers. Here are some examples of the main tasks to be covered:

        • Set-up and assembly
        • Access control
        • Information point
        • Safety
        • Food and drink
        • Referees and staff (to record scores, etc.)
        • Supervision (e.g. at refreshment stations in races)
        • Parking
        • Dismantling and cleaning

        7. How to organise your sports event

        Now that the event is well defined and the team is ready, you need to take action to organise your sports event.

        1. Regulations, permits and safety

        Before going ahead with organising your event, there are certain aspects that you must know and respect. Otherwise, you risk having to go backwards, which will cost you time and money.

        What permits do you need to organise your event? The situation will be different for a small event in a closed area compared to a large event where streets have to be blocked off. These permits are closely linked to the safety of your event, and the relevant authorities will also ask you to comply with certain safety requirements. In addition to these measures, you will also need to take out insurance to protect yourself as an organiser.

        Remember that the necessary permits may also include alcohol licensing, if applicable.

        2. Structure and characteristics of the event

        What will be the structure and schedule of your sports event? Determine the event’s internal organisation, including the days, times and format. If you’re organising a competition, it’s also important that you establish how the groups will be created, the rounds and eliminations, how the scores will be kept, and so on. For this, you can draw on the structures of other sporting events that your audience will be familiar with.

        When setting up this structure, pay particular attention to key moments such as the event’s opening and closing and the prize-giving ceremony. These elements are small events in themselves, so you will need to plan them in detail.

        3. Registration and ticket management

        Managing the registration of attendees and their teams, as well as the sale of tickets to spectators, is one of the main aspects that you will need to manage when organising a sports event.

        An online ticketing and registration system will make this job much easier. Not only will it allow you to manage online payments in a way that is convenient for the organisation and attendees, it will also be very useful for collecting information.

        Do you need attendees to send you a medical certificate demonstrating that they are fit to attend your event? If the event is to be held in France, will you need their federation card? You can request these documents, and ask important questions, using a registration form integrated into your ticketing and registration platform.

        Moreover, you will also collect their emails, which will allow you to easily send them important information about the event itself (e.g. schedules, rules, rankings) and about upcoming events that you are organising. Using a mailing and CRM tool which is connected to ticket sales will make your job much easier.

        4. Crowd management and access control

        If you are expecting a large number of attendees at your event, whether spectators or participants, you need to be well prepared to manage large crowds. This is one of the main aspects to consider when it comes to safety.

        Start with a thorough analysis of the location of your sports event and create an access plan. If possible, divide the site into areas with separate access and exit points to ensure smoother flows of people. You should also think about how to manage access for those with reduced mobility.

        Separate the areas dedicated to the supporters of each team, especially if the relationship between the two could lead to conflict.

        Train your access control and safety team properly. An access control system with scanning devices for barcodes or QR codes will ensure smooth access flows. Make sure that everyone has a clear understanding of their tasks. As a team, draw up an evacuation plan and, if necessary, ask the police for help.

        Lighting is another issue that is key before, during and after the event, in and around the site. Make sure that the parking areas are well lit, as well as the interior of the venue, so that you can see everything that is going on without difficulty.

        After the event, don’t let your guard down. Inform attendees of the exits and, if necessary, call in the police to help with dispersing attendees once they are outside the venue.

        5. Managing payments on site

        For large sports events, managing payments for food, drink and merchandising at the event can be a headache. Sports stadiums can opt for a cashless payment system so that fans pay for their drinks in the stadium with a pre-paid card, thus avoiding queues, especially at half-time.

        For non-permanent venues, cashless payment can also be an effective solution. It appeals to visitors by reducing queues, and to organisers by making their lives easier and even boosting their income.

        8. What resources are needed to organise your sports event?

        To organise the event you have already defined, you will need resources. So, what resources will you use to organise your sports event?

        1. Budget

        Alongside your strategic plan, you’ll need to draw up a budget for your event. Together, these two documents together will guide you through the organisation process, so you should prepare them carefully. When you draw up the budget, remember to include the approximate costs of all aspects of your event, as well as the amount of money you have available and the sources of money you will need. Ticket and registration sales are one of the main sources of income for a sports event, which is why it’s so important that you manage them properly.

        2. Sponsors

        Sponsors are key to your sports event as they will help you fund it, whether through financial or in-kind contributions.

        It’s not hard to find sponsors for a sports event, especially if your event reaches a large number of people.

        To organise your sports event, Weezevent offers simple and effective solutions for online registration and ticket sales, access control, on-site payment management through cashless payment systems, and communication with your audience through a mailing and CRM tool.

        Discover our online platform and don’t hesitate to ask us any questions you may have. Whatever you need, we will help you with organising your sports event!

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