6 Ways To Get Your Small Business Recognized at Major Sporting Events

You probably assume major events are the domains of big brands like Coca-Cola and McDonalds. But did you realize there are a great deal of opportunities for small businesses to also ‘get in the game’ and capitalize on the business side of events such as Olympic Games and World Cups?

As Vancouver prepares to play a major role in the FIFA World Cup 2026 as a host city, BC-based businesses have a unique opportunity to speak to a global audience, with tens of thousands of fans expected to visit, attend games, and experience everything our province has to offer. Buy Social Canada has produced a report highlighting that Toronto expects to generate $392 million in GDP while creating over 3,000 jobs. It’s anticipated Canadian host cities will also earn an approximate $150 million in tax revenues during the tournament.

How can your company tap into this exciting opportunity? The keys to success here are knowing who the buyers are, what they’re buying and when. Here are some of the key buyers you can cater to.

6 Types of Buyers for Major Events

For each sporting event, there are generally six groups of buyers. Although many businesses fix their sights upon the organizing committees, there are many more who operate behind the scenes:

  1. Rightsholder. This is the organization that controls the rights and decides upon host locations. Examples include the International Olympic Committee, FIFA and the TED conference. Leading up to and during the games, the rightsholder holds all of the organizations involved to the rules and standards of the commercial and competitive aspects of the event.
  2. Partners/Sponsors. Corporations and government jurisdictions who have paid a marketing fee for the right to associate their brand/location with the event. Many of the partners use the event for VIP receptions for key customers, distribution partners and may also plan public events, such as Fun Zones and concerts during the event.
  3. Broadcasters/Media. Like the rightsholder, broadcasters and media have a great deal of staff on-site, many of whom are stuck in a specific location for long periods of time. Others may need to move quickly between locations. Boxed lunches and valet-type personal services are key for them, as well as local additional technical expertise and goods and services related to their equipment.
  4. Competing Federations. While teams are fully looked after by the organizing committee, there are many other delegates from each competing country who must manage their own accommodations, meals, personal and professional needs while in Canada. They organize unseen events, such as meetings receptions and leisure activities for their sponsors, as well as friends and family of competing athletes.
  5. Sport Tour Operators /Hospitality Companies. These highly specialized tour operators combine event tickets, travel, accommodations and sightseeing packages for sponsors, friends and family of athletes and individuals who wish to travel to the events.
  6. Organizing Committee. A temporary local company created to manage all the aspects of staging the event in a specific location. The Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) is an example of an organizing committee. The goods and services they purchase cover a broad range and are detailed below.

Goods and Services Your Business Could Provide to Major Events

Sporting and cultural events have a fairly common organizational structure and distinct language. To give you a basic understanding of that language, here are a few of the common terms and purchasing segments use:

  1. Overlay: Furniture, fixtures, trailers, tents, mechanical, electrical and signage.
  2. Hospitality and Travel: Catering, event management, accommodations, uniforms, service ware, hosts.
  3. Services: Broadcast, event production, photography, printing, entertainment, couriers.
  4. Games Operations: Medical equipment, medical services, security, transport, medals, flowers, training equipment.
  5. Administration: Accounting, staffing, insurance, office supplies, apparel, name badges.
  6. Arts and Cultural Festival: Staging, lighting, AV equipment, entertainers, security, food and beverage, promotional items, portable facilities, such as kitchens and bathrooms

Once you identify the section that your business fits into, then you can work to contract your products and services.

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