Case Study – RTO4

Winning the Bid-Ness with the RTO4


Executive Summary

Regional Tourism Organization 4 (RTO4) is one of Ontario’s 13 tourism organizations. Representing the municipalities of Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, and Cambridge, RTO4 represents one of Ontario’s fastest growing regions.

Wanting to increase the region’s profile and promote local tourism, RTO4 was seeking to win more bids to host sporting events of all sizes. Understanding that corporate sponsorship represents a key revenue driver for most sporting events, RTO4 wanted to showcase its strong corporate community, and its interest in supporting incoming events.

About RTO4

RTO4 is one of 13 tourism organizations of it’s kind in Ontario, and represents the municipalities of Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, and Guelph. Perhaps drawing inspiration from the region’s tech identity, RTO4 has sought to develop tourism through innovative, analytical, and non-traditional thinking. This approach led to the Canadian Tourism Commission referring to RTO4 as the “petri dish of tourism development in North America.”

The Challenge

For several years, the municipalities of Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph were consistently bidding to host sporting events at all levels. However, upon reflection what they discovered was that by bidding individually, they were knocking themselves out of the running, eventually seeing the successful bid awarded to another municipality entirely. To address this challenge, RTO4 created the Regional Sport Tourism Office (RSTO). This newly formed group would combine the efforts and resources of the four main municipalities falling under RTO4’s jurisdiction in an effort to win more hosting bids for the Region.

In a further effort to showcase the benefits of hosting sporting events in the region, RSTO wanted to better articulate the strength of its corporate community, and in turn the support incoming event hosts could expect through Corporate Sponsorship.

How We Helped

As experts in Corporate Sponsorship, particularly in Canada, Cosmos was brought on to answer a few simple questions:

– Who in the corporate community is interested in sponsoring sporting events?
– What types of events are they interested in supporting?
– What forms of support could the corporate community provide, and to what level?
– What would the corporate community be looking for in exchange for their support?

While simple on the surface, these questions are actually quite complicated, and represent the same challenges that most sport properties face when seeking corporate sponsorship.

In order to answer these questions, Cosmos took a 3-step approach:

First, Cosmos’ consulting team reviewed as many prior sporting events as possible that had taken place in the region. The goal of this was to understand the opportunities these events had presented to sponsors, and to begin to identify some recurring brands.

Second, Cosmos identified other major brands with a presence in the region, but who had not engaged in corporate sponsorship. The goal here was to understand what kept them away from partnering with sporting events, and whether RSTO could do something different to entice them.

Lastly, Cosmos mined our proprietary list of corporate partner relationships. Having worked with many of them across several different properties, the goal was to get their objective view on the region, as well as an opinion on the types of events most likely to be hosted in the region. Ultimately, it was Cosmos’ goal to understand how both these things aligned with their overall marketing & branding strategies.

Having completed all the necessary market research, Cosmos then developed an Action Plan for RSTO. The Action Plan contained a qualified list of sponsorship decision makers, along with their relevant sponsorship goals, and the types of properties they would be most interested in.

RSTO would have this document to use for the next 3-5 years as they set out to win more bids to host sporting events in the region.

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