Sports industry professionals give us advice and keys for working in this exciting world
The sports world is so large and diverse that it has endless possibilities in the management of events, facilities, clubs, federations … But what do employers in the sports industry look for when they hire staff? Is there a specific profile that they select to nurture their workforces or when they seek collaborators for specific sports events or acts? Yes, there is.
Working in sport is very appealing. It’s one of those professions that can be lived with a passion that is contagious. But the industry is becoming increasingly professionalised and not just the federated and highly competitive sports, but also those companies involved in the practice of amateur sport or physical activity understood as a recreational service.
“Try to do what you’ve always dreamed of; you’ll do it with passion and it’ll be noticeable in your work.” That is the advice of Eva Dallo, who’s in charge of the Spanish press at the Volvo Ocean Race, the biggest and longest ocean adventure there is, an around-the-world team race that lasts nine months. “It’s exciting, but before embarking on an event of this nature you should bear in mind that you have to give up many things…friends, family. You disappear for a long time and life goes on.” This is one reason why companies wanting to hire staff for international sporting events are attracted by “people who are passionate about the sport in question and the event – it is also important that you choose very well the sport you want to devote your life to – and the vast majority are people who actively searched for opportunities throughout their career, instead of waiting for the opportunities to come to them.” Another recommendation from Eva regarding events is that “you must be able to speak at least two languages, and English is taken for granted”.
Sports tourism has shown a sustained growth of 6% per year since 2006. In 2010, it moved $600 billion worldwide, and despite the recession remains one of the tourism sectors with the most potential. HomeSPOTS founder, Marc Climent, decided a little over a year ago to explore this ‘niche’ business and he’s doing rather well. He presents his company as the ‘flat rate in sports’, an innovative concept, unique and easy to expand, and he dares to say that “it does not yet have competitors.” But he knows that, sooner or later, it might have and that is why his philosophy is “don’t forget the human side of business. One phone call works better than five emails,” says Climent. HomeSPOTS proposes doing sport without needing to buy the material that is, in most cases, very expensive and might not be worth buying. Through a powerful network of partner institutions, this company offers the user more than 20 sports disciplines without additional charges or usage limits wherever you go.” Our customers are people who will try kayaking or kiting, to give two examples, who love it and then think about buying all the equipment the first day. That is a mistake.”
As a businessman and entrepreneur, Marc, a former professional competitive sailor, wanted to set up a team that would “bring added value, knowledge, contacts, and industry experience” and has gone for a “win-win model for collaborators” so not only one of the parties makes money, but both will benefit when the business goes well.
Oriol Cortada has also gone from doing sport professionally to managing it. He is now the Director General of Atlétic Terrassa Hockey Club and is head of a club that, besides the pressure of high competition with 42 Olympic players in its ranks, has grown and adapted with the times with sections such as tennis, paddle tennis, swimming, trial biking and fitness. He is in charge of all new hires and manages very varied profiles, such as sports directors of the different areas, administrative, commercial and maintenance staff, coordinators, lifeguards, coaches, etc. And what matters to Oriol Cortada in his staff selection is that candidates “have a commitment to the sector and a career plan, a club culture and values, are team players, customer oriented and have a business and marketing vision. Today, that is essential in that all clubs need more members, more resources, more sponsors.” In a job interview, Oriol recommends being “formal, but not overly so” as well as providing “specific training…and I also highly value LinkedIn recommendations”.
Expectations. The SASEX theory talks about this, and it is explained very well by Pedro Hidalgo, Director of Marketing and Communications at Duet Sports Group. It’s nothing other than the magic formula that must be completed to be professional: customer satisfaction = service – expectations. “If the expectations we raise are very high and the service is not sufficiently adequate, customer satisfaction will be negative,” Peter explains. His advice is to “innovate like crazy, know what you do and create a good working environment, be well trained, have experience in the sports sector and be versatile because things change, companies evolve and being able to adapt is fundamental”.