Organising a sports event: the different stages of strategic planning

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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