How sports strengthens client relationships

At the World Cup, Wimbledon and more, BCD Sports helps companies build bonds.

Want to get a yes to your meeting request with a client? BCD Sports’ Charlene Rabideau has the answer. Meet at the ballpark, court, arena or pitch.

“Experiences are what resonate today, and people are busy. So, it takes something special to get on their calendars. We help create that special experience around sports,” said Rabideau, senior vice president and general manager of the year-old division, which designs and executes athletic experiences for corporate hospitality and coordinates team travel for professional and university teams.

To make her point, she offers two scenarios. In one, you meet clients at a nice restaurant. You’re dressed in suits. You make small talk over wine until the food arrives. During the entrée, you get to your pitch. They ask a few questions. Someone on the team has an early flight, so you pay and leave, hoping your message got across. You mark your calendar to follow up in a few days.

Now imagine this. You offer the same clients a chance to see a Wimbledon tennis match in London. Everyone shows up wearing comfortable clothes. You have a few pints. You talk about the players and the event, and you applaud together during big moments. Nobody leaves early. Everybody tells you it was a one-time-only experience because, well, it was. They happily take away souvenirs with your company’s brand. The next morning, your inbox is filled with thank-yous.

“Sports builds relationships and lasting bonds,” said Rabideau, senior vice president and general manager of BCD Sports. “No other event offers the same opportunity to create memories.”

BCD Sports launched in 2017 to serve what parent company BCD Travel and sister firm BCD Meetings & Events saw as a growing market need. The company does much more than book sports tickets. It creates a whole sporting experience that may include accommodations, transportation, catering and other services.

For example, at the recent World Cup in Russia, BCD Sports has managed hotels, ground transportation, tickets and more for over 1,000 corporate attendees from around the globe.

At the Masters golf tournament this spring, BCD Sports rented houses for companies and their guests. Private chefs made meals, the groups played golf on nearby courses, and they attended the tournament together at the world-famous Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.

“It’s interesting to see how relaxed people get outside of the office,” Rabideau said. “That’s the real value of a sports-based client event. People enjoy themselves, but they also get creative and entrepreneurial. They share stories and ideas. They think like partners.”

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