Q&A: How BCD Sports is making big plays

Charlene Rabideau BCD Sports

BCD Sports launched in April with a focus on designing and executing athletic experiences for corporate hospitality and coordinating team travel for professional, college and youth teams. Here, Charlene Rabideau, senior vice president and general manager of BCD Sports, explains business opportunities for the newly formed unit, affiliated with BCD Meetings & Events and BCD Travel.

Why create BCD Sports now? What do you see as the market need?

BCD has been providing corporate hospitality and team travel services for years. As the business grew, we saw an opportunity to enter the space in a bigger, more formalized way. It’s important to evolve and continue to offer the innovative services and solutions that our clients are asking for. BCD Sports not only consolidates our team travel offerings, it also showcases our commitment to helping clients use sports hospitality to build customer relationships, enable new sales and grow their businesses. With this new unit, we’re intensely focused on how innovative sports experiences can benefit our clients.

BCD Sports describes some of its offerings as “athletic immersion experiences.” What does that mean?

We believe that sports has the power to move people. It’s live theater, it’s emotional and it’s important to us—the fans. For corporate guests, we provide more than tickets to events. We immerse them in an experience that stimulates all their senses and leaves them with a favorable impression of the host company’s brand. For instance, let’s say we organize an experience where a client invites customers to watch races at the Olympic Games. The event is great by itself, but when you layer on accommodations, transportation, catering and other services that add comfort, and maybe even luxury, the experience becomes delightful and unforgettable. That’s a great way for a client to build brand awareness or reinforce brand value with customers.

What’s the competitive advantage of BCD Sports’ affiliation with BCD Travel and BCD Meetings & Events?

It’s about scale. Clients are looking for a company that can support local, regional and global needs. BCD Sports can tap into the buying power and expertise of BCD Travel and BCD Meetings & Events. That ensures strong relationships with preferred suppliers, in-depth knowledge and risk-mitigating stability.

BCD Sports also helps BCD Travel and BCD M&E bundle offerings for their own clients. They can package our offerings into theirs. These days, clients are looking for ways to reduce suppliers and risk, so this aligns with that less-is-more strategy.

Who are your competitors, and what are your competitive advantages against them?

Mostly small agencies. There are a few regional suppliers in each category, but no one with the size and scale of BCD. We see a lot of small competitors in the corporate space from companies that plan hospitality but have limited service offerings in end-to-end event management and attendee engagement planning. And in the team travel space, we see a lot of travel agencies or corporate travel management companies, but their offerings are mainly limited to logistics management and may be linked to one specific sport. We believe none of our major competitors have the robust, diverse service offerings that we can provide.

How will BCD Sports’ business break down? How much will be corporate hospitality and how much will be coordinating team travel?

We anticipate it will be 50/50.

What’s your rollout plan?

2017 is about getting organized—formalizing the business and marketing it. 2018 will be focused on expanding business in the U.S. and extending offerings to the rest of the world.