Connecting for change – TEAMS Europe
Sustainability and the climate crisis are planted firmly at the forefront of the public consciousness, as shown by a growing number of protests at major sporting events such as last year’s British Grand Prix and the Gallagher Premiership rugby union final just last month.
According to a study from University of Bath in 2021, which surveyed 10,000 children and young people between the age of 16 and 25 across 10 countries, around 75% of the respondents felt that the future is “frightening”. The percentage was even higher for those surveyed in Portugal and the Philippines, which found that 81% and 92% were anxious about climate change.
Respondents also said that their respective governments were not taking enough action to avoid catastrophe.
Using sporting events as an opportunity to protest is not a new phenomenon – a match or championship shown all across the world presents the perfect moment to amplify a point.
Sport can often be used as a driver of social and environmental change, with organisations, federations, businesses and clubs implementing their own plans for action. This is shown by the number of major organisations supporting shared goals through programmes such as the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change ‘Sports for Climate Action Framework’.
But like many problems, they cannot be solved by one organisation working in isolation.
"Approaching the issue of sustainability through a sports perspective allows for a deeper discussion on the topic."
Networking and education
SportsTravel magazine was established in 1997 to serve the sports event industry by connecting rights holders with destinations and venues that would want to host their events, as well as suppliers that provide products and services to the industry.
Following the introduction of the magazine, TEAMS Conference & Expo (Travel, Events and Management in Sports) was set up in the US to provide the industry with opportunities in business development, networking and education around topics such as sustainability.
After 25 years, the conference now boasts partnerships with organisations such as the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
Last year, TEAMS Europe was launched to bring the same networking and development opportunities to European and international rights holders, destinations, venues and suppliers within sport.
TEAMS Europe will take place at ExCel London, June 27-29, featuring speakers representing organisations such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the National Football League (NFL), LaLiga, World Rugby, the International Tennis Federation and Major League Baseball (MLB).
Jason Gewirtz, Executive Editor and Publisher of Sports Travel, as well as the Vice-President, Sports Division, Northstar Meetings Group, tells Global Sustainable Sport that sustainability is a perpetually hot topic.
“Sustainability has always been a major talking point at our conferences and in the magazine. In fact, based on the feedback we received at last year’s event, we knew it was a topic of interest from all ends of our audience — not just rights holders, but destinations, venues and suppliers as well,” he says.
“Sport events are high-profile events so the chance for organisations to demonstrate what they are doing in this space is especially important. Approaching the issue of sustainability through a sports perspective allows for a deeper discussion on the topic considering how passionate both attendees and participants in sports events are, and how much concern they have for this issue specifically.”
This year’s European event not only provides the opportunity to simply meet others in the industry, but to really connect through one-to-one meetings set up by the organisers.
“Attendees who take part in our marketplace get to choose who they would like to meet with before they arrive, and we arrange those meetings as part of the experience,” explains Gewirtz. “For some people, those meetings are the chance to begin a relationship that can lead to business down the road. In other cases, it’s a chance to continue existing relationships. But that opportunity to forge and deepen relationships has proved to be fruitful at our events over the years.”
The conference will feature educational sessions focusing on major talking points within the sports industry ecosystem, including sustainability. TEAMS Europe will also be co-located with The Meetings Show, produced by Northstar Meetings Group, attracting delegates from across the globe.
Plan of action
Gewirtz says that using sport as a platform can drive the argument for change when it comes to the topic of sustainability.
He says: “Approaching the issue of sustainability through a sports perspective allows for a deeper discussion on the topic considering how passionate both attendees and participants in sports events are, and how much concern they have for this issue specifically.”
Of course, sport is not just a catalyst for social and environmental change, but the idea of sustainability is also entwined in the events, clubs and organisations in terms of longevity.
“This year we have expanded the event to cover portions of three days, June 27-29, which will include a mix of education, networking and business development,” explains Gewirtz.
“Our speaker roster includes executives from some of the largest organisations in sport. Attendees should be ready to learn how these organisations and others are approaching their businesses, from event management to branding to games learning to sustainability.”
He adds: “We will also have a session focused on the legal differences between organising events in North America compared to Europe. We know the world of sport is getting smaller and our speaker roster and the topics we’ll be discussing are indicative of that as there is learning to take away from all of these organisations, regardless of where they are based.”
Growth for sporting organisations is also part of the conversation around sustainability, and the conference’s marketplace will facilitate meetings between hotel chains and travel management companies to help with future editions.
“There is a tremendous amount of help that these organisations can offer to sports rights holders,” says Gewirtz. “And likewise, destinations that are with us will have the chance to connect with rights holders that they otherwise would have spent months trying to track down for meetings. We operate in one of the most dynamic industries on the planet: sport is fun – and we live for the chance to help all aspects of that industry grow and prosper.”
Gewirtz also notes how sport plays an integral role in society, that the world of sport is shrinking and highlights the two Major League Baseball games that are set to be held at London Stadium later this month. “A decade ago, that would have seemed impossible. But now, MLB is one of many organisations looking to expand its brand worldwide,” he adds.
He adds: “We often talk about the power of sports, not just for fans who live and die by the outcomes of their teams, but for the impact that sport has on society in general. Nearly every major issue in the world has a sport angle associated with it, and many of those come down to sports events.
“It can be life-affirming for those who participate, it can be a massive economic generator for the cities and venues that host events, and it can be the chance to discuss issues such as sustainability that have a massive impact on the world we live in.”
TEAMS (Travel, Events and Management in Sport) Europe, from Sports Travel, will take place alongside The Meetings Show at Excel London June 27-29, 2023.
Find out more here.