Holding a corporate event during an actual game or sporting contest is an enriching and exciting experience. While major sports events can enhance a city's meetings offering before and after game day, if the budget is there, bringing a group to a destination as one of the big games is happening, is hard to beat. That's been the experience of Valerie Bihet, founder and owner of the Vibe Agency
, who has planned more than 300 events and incentive trips in New York, L.A., and throughout Florida's east coast in just the past three years, with clients such as Santander Bank, Coty, Dior, IKEA, Cartier, L'Oreal, and Montblanc.
"Sports events are always very interesting and very attractive for any company or groups, because I think they give a different feel to the city," says Bihet. "With any events we are doing in Miami or New York City, we are always trying to integrate sporting events. We may go to a basketball game or football game -- and for clients from Europe, attending something like this is especially interesting because it's different for the European market. It enhances the experience of the destination."
She notes that for events like the Super Bowl or Tour de France, there are more issues that need to be taken into consideration because the "city will be transformed by those." If you want to hold your event during one of these big-ticket gatherings, you must plan the event far in advance unless you are a major sponsor, or costs can get prohibitively expensive.
"If you don't have the budget to be there at the same time, find a way to surf on the wave of the excitement -- plan your event a week after but have it held in the places where the events were just happening," Bihet suggests. "If you plan your conference on the same weekend, have a huge projection screen and make the theme relate to the game so even if they aren't in the city, they can see it."
She gives the example of a multinational group that was visiting the U.S. during the World Cup. Knowing this was something many of the European attendees would not want to miss, Bihet made arrangements to project the soccer games on a huge plasma screen during part of the event.
When working with a hedge fund group that rewarded clients with a trip to the Super Bowl in Miami, Bihet planned the event that centered on game day. Visitors arrived Friday night, had Saturday night for activities and enjoying incentive activities throughout Miami, then attended the game on Sunday.
"What did it add? Team spirit, the culture not just of Miami but of New Orleans (which was playing that year) and people had this exclusive feeling that they were the lucky ones," she says.