In today’s day and age, every property needs to host sponsor summits.

While many properties host sponsor summits, many still do not, and even those that do are not maximizing their full potential.

Properties can use summits to accomplish the following:  

  • Keep sponsors up to date on new developments (marketing campaigns, etc.)
  • Share and promote best-in-class activations
  • Facilitate cross-promotions and other business-building activities
  • Engage senior-level decision-makers
  • Secure interest from potential partners

“It’s incredibly important to get in front of our partners in meaningful ways and find opportunities for them to collaborate as frequently as possible,” said Emilio Collins, the NBA’s executive vice president of global partnerships.

Demonstrating the growing importance of sponsor summits, the NBA plans to increase the frequency of partner forums. The league held its last forum in 2013 and plans to hold another meeting in spring 2015.

“On average we host a partner forum every three years or so. We see so much benefit that we’re starting to increase their frequency.”

The NBA hosts smaller networking events throughout the season. The league in June hosted a meeting at the NBA Draft presented by State Farm at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Topics included retail activation and multicultural marketing.

The MLS New York Red Bulls this year hosted its first sponsor summit.  

“I’ve worked at other organizations where partner summits were an annual event and felt strongly this was not only something partners benefited from but the property as well,” said Melissa Brennan, New York Red Bulls’ senior director of marketing partnerships. Brennan’s resume includes Madison Square Garden and New York Road Runners, the producer of the TCS New York City Marathon. 

In addition to current partners, the Red Bulls used the meeting to engage prospects.

“We had several partners in attendance so they could hear firsthand our goals and objectives and speak with current partners to gauge if a partnership makes sense. We felt confident having them attend would be a great selling point and solidify their interest in the New York Red Bulls.”

The overarching goal of the summit was threefold: update sponsors on the upcoming season, provide an overview of Red Bull marketing and share case studies and best practices in sponsorship activation.

“The focus was really on our partners. We wanted to make our commitment clear and I think we accomplished that by providing a forum to share best practices and a brainstorming session to help partners generate ideas for how to best leverage their partnership.”

Competitor Gains New Sponsors, Facilitates Cross-Promotions
The Competitor Group has secured new partners and facilitated cross-promotions as a result of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series summit.

Competitor in 2012 signed Transamerica as a partner after hosting company reps at the series’ annual summit. Transamerica is the official life and protection insurance sponsor of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series.

On the cross-promotion front, Competitor used the summit to facilitate a relationship between Westin Hotels & Resorts and diary trade group MilkPEP. The hotel chain distributes chocolate milk as part of its RunWESTIN training program. 

Competitor hosts the summit around the Nov. 14-16 Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon & Half Marathon. The race takes place on the Las Vegas Strip.

“It’s our most significant event with the most exciting components. It’s an easy draw for sponsors,” said Sean Clottu, Competitor Group’s vice president of partnership marketing.

Roughly 80 to 85 sponsors and prospects attend the summit, he said.

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