Making Connections

In Real Estate, they say that location is everything – location, location location.   In small business, relationships are everything.  The true value of a small business lies within its relationships with its Clients, Contacts and other Connections.

When Acuity Sports makes decisions to conduct site visits, we have to consider the costs in terms of company dollars and times, but we choose to continually make the investment because site visits are about more than just visiting the actual location, but it also about making relationships in and around the venue.

John Willard "Bill" Marriott, Jr.

Acuity Sports Team and John Willard “Bill” Marriott, Jr.

Last week, during a routine site visit to JW Marriott Grande Lakes In Orlando, we made the connection of a lifetime.   We had the opportunity to meet John Willard “Bill” Marriott, Jr., the Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Marriott International and Son of JW Marriott the founder.   This was a special day for our team, as we admire the Marriott’s brand excellence and consistency.   This one connection was great confirmation for us that this standard practice of site visits are a priceless benefit for our business, our current clients and our prospective clients.

” It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

 

Sustainable Golf: Saving The Greens

Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility, Conservation – these are all terms that corporations have adopted as part of a growing trend to ‘go green’. Since the sport of golf is heavily connected with and influenced by business, it is not surprising that this trend has made its way to the greens.

Creating-a-sustainable-golf-event

In fact, sustainability has become a goal among many sports, not just golf. As environmental awareness and concerns among fans continue to increase, so do their expectations regarding the way their lifestyles impact the environment. The Green Alliance, a non-profit organization that represents over 140 teams across 14 leagues has been meeting with sports stakeholders since 2010 to identify and implement ways to address the environmental concerns that exist within the various sports. These concerns includes things like energy usage, waste management, water conservation and pollution.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) blog:

The Philadelphia Eagles are preparing for on-site wind and solar generation at Lincoln Financial Field. The National Hockey League became the first league to join EPA’s Green Power Partnership, offsetting 100 percent of its post-season electricity consumption through its green power commitments.

Nascar has also taken similar measures. In May 2012, they announced an agreement made with the EPA to join the trend towards implementing safer, more environmentally-friendly products and practices.

Golf is has not been left behind in these efforts. While there have been emphasis on sustainability in the past, the International Golf Federation (IGF) released an official statement in October 2012 which highlighted its commitment to making environmental health a core priority.

Acuity Sports has remained on the leading edge of this trend towards sustainability. The Golf Goes Green article of SuccessfulMeetings.com highlights Acuity’s contribution to these goals. By thinking outside the box, Acuity was able to hire a company that provided a card-less option for keeping score, which had the added benefit of repurposing older model phones.

We would love to hear about the unique ways that your company / organization has employed sustainable efforts into its operations and/or events. Please comment below.

Golf Events 101: Making event planning easier

Golf Events and Tournaments are a proven method for organizations to promote networking, to raise money and to entertain.    They are also a significant undertaking for any event planner or coordinator.

In addition to the general event planning tasks, such as venue selection, sponsor solicitation, event marketing and registration, golf event planners must also coordinate specifics such as hole signage, golf clinics, prizes, and contests.   This usually requires interacting with a team of individuals and stakeholders from the event host to the venue manager to the clinic instructor.

 

Because we understand and identify with the complexities of hosting golf events, Acuity has created the Golf Events 101 workshop.   Acuity Sports, an experienced planner and coordinator of diverse golf events, has partnered with Golfsmith, a superstore specializing in golf apparel, equipment, and accessories.  Together, Acuity Sports and Golfsmith, will bring you three workshops in January, serving the MD, DC and VA area.
Golf-Events-101-Golfsmith

 

The Golf Events 101 workshops are designed to educate and connect all of the key stakeholders involved in an excellent golf event – the planners, coordinators, vendors and venues.   In addition to invaluable networking, we will host a discussion that will include tips on:
  • Marketing your golf event offline and using Social Media
  • Recruiting more sponsors and attendees to your golf event
  • Generating revenue through the day of your golf event
  • And more…

 

This is a great opportunity to get your questions answered on how you can host or be a part of a profitable golf event for your company or organization.
Golf Events 101 will be held on three dates in January in MD and VA:

Conducting a Corporate Event Site Visit – Step 3 – Evaluate

When planning a Corporate Event and choosing the most appropriate venue, the final step of the process is the evaluation.

In order to objectively evaluate each venue, I recommend that you set up a tool or grid that will allow you to compare sites based on the elements or criteria that is most important your client. Setting up your evaluation tool prior to arrival will make the assessment much easier.   Be sure to always leave room for additional factors that you did not think of or that impressed you while on the visit. Your evaluation tool and criteria should closely reflect the key information you provided to the venue prior to arrival. For example, if you have outlined specific space requirements, your evaluation tool should allow you to quickly assess whether or not the venue meets your needs.

For my recent site visit in Miami, I had the pleasure of visiting Trump Doral Golf Resort & Spa, Turnberry Isle Miami and PGA National to determine the feasibility of hosting a 2014 golf and spa event. My key areas of evaluation for all properties were:
Conducting-A-Corporate-Event-Site-Evaluate-the-venue

  • Hotel (layout, location, number of rooms, group rate, resort fees, available dates and pre/post rates, etc…)
  • Function Space (available space, capacity and location for each planned event, storage, back up space, etc…)
  • Food and Beverage (quality, pricing, minimums, additional charges)
  • Golf (championship course/quality of course, degree of difficulty, pricing, formatting, pro shop, staff, on-course set up, etc…)
  • Spa (world class, appointment capacity, pricing)
  • Golf School (quality of instruction, clinic set up, location, capacity)
  • Concessions

Now that I am back , I can review my notes from each location against my client requirements and come up with my objective recommendation.

Having a plan of action setup for your site visit will allow you to be prepared, prepare the site representatives, manage your time on-site, conduct a full and relevant review and may even leave you with a little time to enjoy the property for yourself.

Hopefully these three steps of the corporate event site visit:

will help you to gain additional insight into the process so you know what to look for if you are conducting one on your own, and you know what to expect from your corporate event planner.

Conducting A Corporate Event Site Visit: Step 2 – Envision It

After you have crafted your corporate event’s experience with the venue representatives, it is time for you to arrive on-site and begin your observation.

Conducting-A-Corporate-Event-Site-Envisioning

Based on what you know and have shared about your corporate event goals, your guests and their expectations, requirements and restrictions, you want to be able to determine whether or not they are going to be satisfied with the experience you are helping to craft for them.   Create a checklist for yourself so you can review it when you return.   Your checklist should capture your observations of the following:

 

  • If your guests will be dining on the premises, you will want to do a tasting with table service;
  • If your corporate event host’s guests are playing golf or going to the spa, you want to experience it those amenities;
  • Observe how the staff treats you as a guest.  Are they warm and friendly, does everyone say good morning or do they avoid eye contact and look the other way?
  • What happens when you call the front desk with a problem?
  • How accommodating are they to helping you navigate your way around the property and the surrounding area?
  • How comfortable are the accommodations?
  • What amenities are on-site?  Which ones did you feel were missing?
  • What services are provided by the venue vs those that you are expected to perform?
  • Are operations actually in line with the sales pitch?
Many corporate events invest a significant portion of their budget with the venue.   The venue, in turn, plays a huge role in the overall satisfaction level of your participants.  The features and amenities are typically added to the marketing material for the event to create a sense of anticipation.  The attendees’ experiences with these features will collectively determine their level of satisfaction.   If you can, it is helpful to visit venues while other events are going on so that you can get a sense for how your event may or may not be similar and how the venue handles events. Observe how well they are able to accommodate the guests at the event they are hosting, as well as, those not participating.
This will give you a sense of their available resources.   Spend time away from the site representatives so that you can explore the property for yourself to see the condition of the premises and the services completely unbiased.

Conducting A Corporate Event Site Visit – Step 1 – Manage the Experience

As a corporate event planner, one of the tasks that I perform for my clients is the site visit.   Typically, I will visit a few locations and then based on the host’s goals I will recommend the one that best meets their expectations.
Conducting-A-Corporate-Event-Site

Last week,  I had the opportunity to conduct site visits to determine a suitable place to host an upcoming golf and spa event.  My site visits consist of three main steps:  Experience, Envision and Evaluate.   Simply put, I want to experience the venue as a planner and just as my client’s guests would; to envision how the event would play out at the venue, and lastly to evaluate whether or not the location is the best selection for the event looking at all the venue amenities and the host requirements.   In this post, I will provide you with the steps I take to help you plan and conduct your own site visits.

Experience

A successful site visit experience starts well in advance of the actual visit.  Prior to the visit you should provide the venue with as much information about your event as possible.   This information should including an

  • event profile,
  • attendee profile,
  • dates,
  • arrival and departure patterns,
  • reservation requirements,
  • program overview/function space,
  • and any other special requirements.

It usually works best if you outline the itinerary/agenda stating what you want to see and do while you on site.  This helps you to handle the planner details before you arrive.   Once you arrive, you will be playing a dual role.  You will need to look at the event from your perspective as the planner and what you will need to operate and execute successfully, as well as, from the perspective of your guests and the experience they will have.

Your Never-ending Golf Season

Do you live on the East Coast or in the Northern part of the country?  If so, you are probably beginning to grieve the end of the golf season.   Aside from the rare mild day, tee times have all but hibernated from those entering a cold winter season.   But don’t put up your clubs just yet!   You can extend your golf season with a little creativity.

Just in time for the Christmas season, Acuity Sports is bringing you 7 ways that you can extend your golf season, along with gift suggestions for each.   Whether you are the golf enthusiast or you are shopping for one, these suggestions are sure to hit the mark and get you through the “off-season”

Never-Ending-Golf-Season

1) Research – Keep your mental game sharp by reading books about golf.   Find books by and about top golfers and learn how they prepare for the game; read about the rules and etiquette of the game; research the highlights of the top courses in your area and abroad.  Fill your mind with images, tips learn techniques that will keep you fresh and excited about your next round of golf.   This will help to build your anticipation and will give you great facts to use as small talk on the course.  Gift Suggestion: Magazine subscription to a popular golf magazine like Golf Digest.  Golf books such as: Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book and Dave Pelz’s Short Game Bible

 

2) Stay Fit – Golf requires stamina and physical fitness.  To persist through the hot days; To proceed from hole to hole with your equipment; To continuously have controlled and complete swings, you want to be at your optimal physical performance level.   Staying fit during the cold season is a “must” for your golf game.   Don’t let indulgent holiday eating make you sluggish.  Hit the gym or get a DVD workout and keep your body warm and heartbeat up while you wait for the sun to come back out.  Gift Suggestion:  3 month membership to a local gym or bootcamp series

 

3) Mirror, Mirror –  The mirror tells all.   If you could stand in front of a mirror when you hit that perfect swing, you would have been able to see exactly what you did right so you can repeat it again and again.   It is not suggested that you try to focus on a mirror and the golf ball at the same time, but you can record yourself as your practice your swings to get the same effect.   Grab a club and a small video recording device and swing away.   Record your moves, your form, your focus, etc.   Note the slight tweaks you could make to perfect your game, modify and repeat.  Gift Suggestion: A small personal video recording device and tripod/stand

 

4) Game on! – Getting a video game system for the kids or grandkids for Christmas?   Grab a little something for you while you are there.   Most major video game consoles make golf-simulated games that you can play with pseudo-golf sticks.   While it may not be a perfect replication of the game, its enough to keep you fresh and maybe even to get someone else in your family interested in the sport.  Gift Suggestions:  Wii Golf Games and a SimStix

 

5) Be Creative – Look at your house in a different way.   Could the hallway leading to your laundry room be the perfect straight way to practice a swing?   What about the space in the basement that no one uses? Could you put a net or even a basket back there for a little practice?   All you need is a little bit of space and a target or goal and you can convert your space into a mini golf course for practicing.  Gift Suggestion: Indoor putting green mat or golf simulator hardware

 

6) Getaway –  The good news is, ts not cold everywhere.   This is the perfect time for a getaway to a warmer climate.   Jump on a plane;  visit a relative; take a ride to the South.   There are many ways for you to temporarily migrate to a climate that is more golf-friendly.    Tell a few of your golf buddies and make a annual trip out of it.  Gift Suggestions:  Airline gift card or gift certificate;  Hotel gift certificate

 

7) Go Indoors – Find an indoor golf facility.  These facilities will typically have driving ranges, practice putting greens, as well as, simulated games that will help you to bring the highlights of the course indoors.  Gift Suggestions:  Gift certificate for a local indoor golf facility

Hiring a Corporate Event Planner – Top Five Considerations

Hiring the right event planner and manager is a key task for a successful corporate event planning. Hosting corporate events requires a significant time and money investment, and needs to be handled with professional care.  Not all event planners are a good fit to be your corporate event planner.   In order to choose a good planner, its best to first start with a good strategy.   The best person for the job is the one that can most completely fill your strategy.

Below are the top five considerations Acuity Sports recommends for choosing a event manager or event management company for your corporate event.
1. Have an event strategy 
Before going out to find a corporate event planner, know what you want for your event.  What type of event are you planning?  Is the Corporate Event you are planning to recognize employees? to create brand awareness? to launch a new product? to thank vendors?   Know your event’s goal, budget, and the key players before you start to look for an event professional.   The right person is going to be the one that best fits the key elements of your strategy, which is why you can’t choose the right person without the strategy.

Hiring-a-Corporate-Event-Planner

2. Get recommendations and referrals
Ask around.  Start with your current professional network and ask for referrals for corporate event planners.    Getting referrals and recommendations from others usually also comes with tips based on what they learned from past experiences.   Also, when a professional comes by the way of a recommendation, they know their performance impacts both the referring company and the client.   This added accountability can lead to a higher level of service.
3. Gain clear alignment of expectations
Go beyond the standard terms and conditions and get what you expect in writing.   If there are specific goals, actions, tasks, etc. that you expect your corporate event planner to handle, spell these out in a written scope of work. This is your guiding document for your work with the planner and it is a great way to keep all parties involved focused.  Before hiring your corporate event planner, be sure to have them commit to your expectations and have them provide you with the details of what they need and expect from you.
4. Open lines of communication
Find out how your prospective event planners communicate with their clients.   You want to determine how often they communicate and through what methods.   Also, find out who will be the point of contact should the primary contact not be available.   You do not want to be left on the day of your event with an emergency situation and no one to contact.
5. Added Value
Your corporate event planner should be able to add some extra value to your specific event.   If you are hosting an event to attract new clients, hiring a planner with extensive connections and an ability to network would be key.  If you are looking to thank current clients, then hiring a planner who specializes in recognition events would be ideal.
Acuity Sports can be either a prospect or a resource for referrals for your next corporate event.   Depending on the goals of your next event, we could serve as your primary planner or we could work with your planner to help you create a memorable experience using golf as an activity or a central theme.
Good Luck planning your next corporate event.

Learning to go the distance in business from golf

Golf is often referred to as the sport of business because the sport creates a great environment for people to get to know one another beyond what is typically shared in a scripted networking conversation or business interaction.

But golf is also a great business sport because the game has many similarities to business.   In both golf and business, participants are challenged to see if they can go the distance. .business-golf

If you live in the Northeastern part of the country , the typical golf season stretches from April to October, longer if the weather permits.   With the average 18-round game lasting an approximate 4-5 hours, that’s a lot of time spent on the greens!

Unlike most sports, where the goal is the same throughout the game, golf has 9 – 18 different goals, each which must be approached differently.   The inclines and declines, the obstacles, the wind speed, the distance, all of these critical factors vary at every hole and at every course.  The sport of golf requires endurance and mental fortitude.Business is the same way. The goal is conceptually the same each time – make contact, promote a call to action, convert to a sale.  Yet, the landscape changes with every transaction, every day and every new interaction.   This means that in both business and golf, it is important to embrace form, function and flexibility.    This requires all the great players to have the ability to stay focused with every swing and to pace each move, but to also be able to quickly shake off frustrations and missed swings so they can regroup and move ahead.

Every business owner can learn from the perspective of a golf player.  Focus on each swing, but play for the whole game.   Yes, it would be ideal for each swing to be a hole-in-one,but chances are you are going to experience a few over swings and under swings and some swings that you just can’t even describe. That is just the nature of the game.   The goal is to get the ball in the hole with the fewest amount of strokes, period.  Despite the many obstacles on the course. In business, sometimes your perfectly crafted sales page does not convert. Sometimes, an unhappy customer remains unhappy no matter how many times you attempt to resolve the issue.

Sometimes, your great product idea does not sell well or at all.  At times you will be able to pinpoint why you did not reach you goal, other times, a cause won’t be as obvious.   But regardless of the ‘why’ you need to keep your eye on the next hole or ‘what’s next’…the answer is to play another round, another game, another course.  It is important to go the distance, the longer you play the better chance you will have of having your good swings outweigh the ones that don’t quite mark.

On the golf course and in the boardroom, always strive for success and remember that a winning season isn’t winning every game, its winning more than you lose.  As long as you hang in there you have a chance to make it a winning season.  No one swing, or one game, or one contract or one sale defines your bottom line in golf or in business.

Just keep swinging.