Curious Minds Recap: Marketing the Value of Sporting Events in Central Ohio

We highlight key findings from our recent conversation with Jenn Cartmille, Director of Marketing for Meeting, Conventions and Sports at the Greater Columbus Sports Commission.

In Columbus, Ohio, you’ll find a brew of die-hard sports spectators, from loyal Buckeyes to longtime Blue Jacket fans. Or, you may run into the soccer fanatics who helped #SavetheCrew.

But, why are these audiences important to us as marketers? And, more importantly, what does the future look like for popular tourist attractions, such as sporting events?

We recently spoke with Jenn Cartmille, Director of Marketing for Meeting, Conventions and Sports at the Greater Columbus Sports Commission. In this virtual conversation, Jenn shared her experiences in sports tourism for our hometown, while explaining how COVID-19 has ultimately impacted the future of events across the globe.

Here are a few of the insights Jenn shared with our team of curious minds:

Sporting events accumulate more than $6.7 billion in central Ohio.

The Greater Columbus Sports Commission is responsible for attracting sporting events to Columbus as part of the broader tourism efforts. From the NCAA Women’s Final Four to the Arnold Classic, previous events have garnered significant financial impacts in our community.

Walkability is attractive.

Those unfamiliar with Midwest cities can’t fathom the accessibility they offer — and most visitors are shocked at how quickly one can navigate the capital. Spectators can park downtown and access a plethora of restaurants, shops and entertainment venues. This key feature is a game-changer for their target audiences, as many in attendance are younger and  looking to make an experience of their visit.

Virtual events aren’t all that bad.

2020 — and the foreseeable future — are known for online experiences. Contrary to popular belief, Jenn shared that all-virtual events can actually give our city a leg up during the bid process. We won't need to compete with Miami's beaches when tourists can’t go in person to enjoy it. Point, Columbus.

In-person events might never be the same.

Even though we are looking at another three to four years before easing back into large, in-person events, it's certain that COVID-inspired protocol and etiquette will remain prevalent. Consumers are accustomed to social distancing and increased sanitation, and this won’t flip on a dime once a vaccine comes up to bat.  

Esports are making their way into the mainstream market.

Gamers, unite. Esport is a popular phenomenon making its way into the market, and people are tuning in. Jenn shared the potential for this new key player and how Columbus could become a hotspot for the new genre of gaming.

As marketers and lifelong learners, it’s our job to understand these important trends from organizations within our community and how it may impact the audiences we communicate to each and every day. The work of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission will continue to create grand slam experiences in central Ohio — and the clock doesn’t stop here.