Lamont, MJ 2005, 'Small and medium business sponsorship of regional sport tourism events', PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.
Copyright MJ Lamont 2005
Increasingly, communities in regional areas are turning to sports events of a small scale to bring new money into their local economy, provide employment, and provide intangible benefits such as increased community pride. Sports events held on an irregular basis can attract visitors from outside a host community, thus resulting in an increase in business during slow periods and possibly promote the host region as a tourist destination after an event has been staged.
In many instances, sponsorship has proven to be the financial lifeblood of sport tourism events held in regional areas, and often provides a majority of the revenue necessary to sustain the successful staging of such events. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) frequently provide the sponsorship necessary to stage such events, owing to the fact that large businesses are sparse in regional areas.
The academic community has paid little attention to the sponsorship nexus between SMEs and regional sport tourism events, which this study aimed to address. Grounded in the interpretivist social sciences paradigm, this qualitative study examined five case studies through interviewing five SME owner/managers and five managers of regional sport tourism events. Areas examined included perceptions of sponsorship, reasons why SMEs provided sponsorship to regional sport tourism events, sponsorship leveraging, evaluation of sponsorship effectiveness, and how sponsorships were initiated between SMEs and regional sport tourism events.
The results of this research found that the event managers and SME sponsors shared differing perceptions of what constitutes ‘sponsorship’. Volunteer event managers tended to view sponsorship in a somewhat philanthropic manner, while professional event managers were well aware of the importance of reciprocating a return on investment to their sponsors. Sponsorships in this context were initiated either through formal request or networks of personal contacts between SMEs and event organising committees. The sponsorships studied were found to be highly informal in nature and bound by gentlemen’s agreements, as opposed to legally binding contracts.
The primary reasons driving SMEs to sponsor such events were related to supporting their local community and to be seen as socially responsible. Engaging in sponsorship to achieve bottom-line objectives were secondary to community involvement, which confirmed findings from similar studies conducted previously.
The results also indicated that sponsorship leveraging and evaluation of sponsorship effectiveness did occur, albeit with varying degrees of success. Both sponsors and event managers tended to exhibit low levels of proficiency in being able to carry out effective sponsorship leveraging and evaluations, and as such leveraging and evaluation techniques employed in these sponsorships tended to be unsophisticated and inexpensive to execute. Only one of the five events studied provided any written post-event feedback to their sponsors.