MEETING TEAMS ’12 (Travel Events and Management in Sports) Conference & Expo, organized by SportsTravel magazine at Cobo Conference & Exhibition Center in Detroit on Oct. 1–4. TEAMS ’11 attracted 1,400 attendees and 300-plus exhibitors — among them, sports-event organizers, sports-related associations and industry organizations, travel managers for teams, sponsors, and CVBs. “The sports-related travel market is a fairly new and growing group travel market in comparison to the more traditionally known group travel markets (association, religious, fraternal, government),” said Lisa Furfine, SportsTravel’s associate publisher and show manager for TEAMS since its launch in 1999.
CHALLENGES This is an event for event organizers, who are “used to having experiences like none other,” Furfine said. For instance, “if you’re working behind the scenes at the Super Bowl, you’re having VIP experiences while you’re working very hard at executing an experience for the 100,000 other
people that are there. So we challenge ourselves every year on the production value, execution, and the content.” Each TEAMS host city also presents
its own challenges. Since the event functions as a kind of fam trip for people in the sports industry, host cities are keen on providing opportunities to showcase their destination. Furfine and her team work “closely with our host partners to strategically align what we’re doing with the conference to what they want to do in terms of reaching this audience.”
INITIATIVES Planned off-site practicums and networking events will allow attendees to take advantage of seeing all four of Detroit’s professional sports venues — Comerica Park, Ford Field, Joe Lewis Arena, and The Palace of Auburn Hills. “Given all of the challenges Detroit has had from an economic position,” Furfine said, the fact that it has four successfully operating stadiums “is a perfect illustration of how sports can be the anchor for economic development for a destination. For all of the
attendees of TEAMS, that’s going to be a reinforcement of the value of the business side of sports.” The other message Furfine said she
is hoping to drive home through the educational programming at this year’s event is that participants are part of “a greater industry” — travel — and that it’s a huge economic driver. “We started having that be an undercurrent [at TEAMS] in 2009,” she said, “so that people understand that what they’re doing is important beyond what’s going on in the playing field.” Because facilitating networking
is TEAMS’ “overarching objective,” Furfine said, she plans to continue to build on the conference’s one-on-one appointment program this year. “The industry realizes that there needs to be more collaboration, interaction, and sharing of information for it to continue to grow,” she said. Plus, “we love hear- ing from our attendees that they got a piece of business at the TEAMS confer- ence. And we hear that a lot.”