The Richmond Region is a vibrant, authentic community that uniquely blends 400 years of history with an amazing creative culture. Visitors experience one of the most central locations on the East Coast with more than 18,000 hotels rooms, 1,000 restaurants, 30-plus breweries/cideries, class-IV rapids running through downtown, miles of urban trails, and over 90 attractions. It’s no wonder The New York Times named Richmond one of the “52 Places to Go in 2020.”
Approach to Using the EIC
The Sports Development team at Richmond Region Tourism had a goal to tell a better story of the impact of sports tourism in our destination. We also wanted to be able to provide hotel partners with data to help them to better manage the expectations of room blocks for sports events.
We created an event verification form to gather data directly from the client regarding their event for a more accurate economic impact calculation. It asks the client to use history where possible to provide us with educated estimates on: number of attendees, spectators, percentage of out of town vs local, attendees per room and length of stay for their event. We then use a formula to get a projected estimated number of room nights requested.
The form helps us be consistent in CRM data entry, how to calculate room night projections and helps our hotels better project the anticipated block size per event. The streamlined process is being implemented across all markets and helps us evaluate financial incentives when requested.
We learned that our room night estimate did not fluctuate too much in either direction from using a consistent formula. While the data from this form was helpful in showing a more consistent economic impact for our destination, we were able to help our stakeholders understand this is still only a portion of the sports tourism story.
Just recently, we revised our form to add the estimated percentage of attendees traveling by air. This improves our process as this was the only piece of information, when inputting data in the economic impact calculator in the event lead, that we didn’t have from the client.
How can a destination organization implement a similar process?
My first tip is to figure out what you would want to accomplish by collecting this data and that will help you with the information you request. We use this form in the lead process when we’re evaluating the impact a particular event will have on our destination. This form is sent to every client – new or repeat event – before we move forward with contracting hotels and facilities. So far, we have not have any instances where a client has failed to return the form. Sometimes we have to send out reminders and follow-up, but for the most part it’s a pretty easy ask and they comply.
I suggest that others use EIC as a part of the picture and not to paint the entire picture. Particularly with sports tourism, it's much more than heads in beds. Also, you are welcome to call our team any time with questions - don't recreate the wheel!