Westwood's Lisa Minihan recently published an article for USTA that was published on www.thebaseliner.net. The article will also be published in the USTA Tournament Director national newsletter.
Tournament Directors, Winning One Parent at a Time
By Lisa Minihan
A successful tournament is not just measured by your ability to execute an event, it is also measured by customer satisfaction. One of the toughest customer bases are the parents. How do we succeed in targeting parents’ needs and wants and then deliver on those expectations? This target is constantly moving for tournament directors.
Perhaps the answer isn’t in the details of the event, but rather in what drives parents’ expectations. I believe that every single parent wants one thing – they want to believe that you have their family’s best interest at heart. It is rather simple. If they are investing their time and money to come to your tournament, they want you to invest in them. A few simple ways to show that investment are:
Communicate well – An easy way set the stage is to send an email before the tournament begins. This communication before the event is the first impression of who you are to the parents. Obviously, let them know the details and be organized. However, the key is to go beyond that and make it personal. Be gracious. Offer your assistance. Be authentic.
Have good manners – Another way to engage parents is to be available and introduce yourself. Putting a face with a name and a handshake goes a long ways in our digital culture. Work the registration table or walk around the grounds during the tournament. Be interested in their story. Basic manners , such as looking someone in the eye and calling them by their name, show respect and sincerity.
Engage their children – The easiest way to a parent’s heart is to invest in their children. Use opportunities to connect. Wes Stafford wrote, “It may be something said or done by an adult who hardly thinks about it: a hug, a compliment, an intriguing question, a sincere applause. But in that moment, the child discovers who they are, what is important to them, why they matter, and sometimes even what their destiny will be.” You cannot underestimate the amount of positive influence you can have on a child who plays your event.
You may schedule like a mathematical genius or you may forget to pick up bananas on the way to a tournament. One parent might like your doubles registration process; another might think you have completely lost your mind. However, the reality is that if parents truly believe that you have their family’s best interest at heart – none of that will really matter. All they will remember is what a great experience your tournament was and how their time and investment in you was well worth it.