To the Point

Home Runs and Base Hits

Growing our events in a rapidly changing world.

Baseball on the Infield Chalk Line

Chances are good that you’re a business-events professional passionate about our industry, eager to make your events the best they can be, and committed to ensuring the continued success of face-to-face meetings — even in a rapidly evolving world.

We know that our attendees and their expectations are changing. In fact, sometimes it feels like everything is changing, from the way we do business and the way we travel, to the way we build community and gather information — the list goes on and on.

But all this disruption doesn’t mean we must throw everything we know out the window. Consider back when summer was synonymous with baseball, and baseball was the only game in town. Consumers today have an endless variety of sporting and entertainment options to choose from, and yet both Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball are still enjoying growing success. Gross revenue for Major League Baseball approached a record $10 billion in 2016 — the 14th consecutive year that baseball has posted record revenues. Minor League Baseball’s 20 most valuable teams were worth $37.5 million last year, according to Forbes, up almost 35 percent from 2013, when valuations were last published.

What accounts for the success? At major-league games, attendance levels are stable. But the league has been able to cultivate new revenue streams from its digital-media company while also increasing sponsorship revenue. Positive television ratings have also contributed.

Things are even more interesting in the minor leagues. Without the hefty bank accounts of their major-league counterparts, many teams have found success by staying true to their roots as affordable family fun. You’ll still find cheap tickets, silly antics like dizzy bat races between innings, and the chance for kids to run the bases. Yet teams have found ways to update their operations (marketing plans no longer consist purely of pocket schedules around town) and incorporate technology (many teams are regularly using data analytics to survey fans). Most of all, they recognize that they’re in the entertainment business. So no, all the disruption in the meetings space doesn’t mean you must scrap everything you’ve ever done and start over from scratch. Innovation expert Luke Williams — a recent Main Stage speaker at PCMA’s 2017 Education Conference — used a cooking metaphor when he described the innovation process to Convene: “Growth occurs whenever people take ingredients, like resources, and rearrange them into recipes, like ideas, that make them more valuable. Once people understand that — that innovation is nothing more than taking the ingredients you have available and seeking a new arrangement of those ingredients that makes them more valuable — that’s empowering.”

It may simply be a case of staying true to your roots while updating or rearranging some aspects of your events. Or you may need to shift your attention to new or different stakeholders to help reach your goals. As for trying out innovative ideas, they don’t all need to be instant home runs. Base hits add up, too.

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.