VALPARAISO | The Lutheran Basketball Association of America will be hosting their annual championship tournament in Valparaiso March 22 through March 24. The event, which was first hosted in Valparaiso in 1971, brings 64 teams comprised of boys and girls in middle school from all over the nation to battle on the basketball courts for top honors.
This annual sporting event books 2,400 hotel rooms throughout Lake and Porter County, contributing $250,000 in hotel revenues alone to the South Shore.
“LBAA takes advantage of our online housing system which allows us to track the amount of rooms booked and report the exact impact this event has on our hospitality industry,” said Jason Sands, director of sports development for the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority.
According to Tom Schultze, president of LBAA, the South Shore CVA housing system has allowed the board to concentrate on the basketball championships and all that goes with that, rather than the housing.
“South Shore has made the housing of our teams and volunteers a problem we no longer even think about. Due to the electronic ease of the teams registering for rooms... it has taken all the stress out of a situation,” said Schultze.
Since the South Shore CVA has taken on LBAA, the strong relationship has allowed for benefits on both sides. While the South Shore CVA helps to enhance the experience of the teams, fans and family of players from across the nation, including groups from Texas, Las Vegas, Wisconsin, Ohio and Nebraska, the usage of the housing system allows access to valuable feedback from the group.
“The technology we have implemented allows us more access and communication with our visitors so we can better understand their needs. Sending out special offers before the event and surveys after help set our destination apart from our competitors,” said Sands.
In addition to the housing system, South Shore CVA’s technology extends to the creation of event-specific microsites and Facebook pages. Through these interactive resources, the South Shore CVA can further enhance the customer experience.
“When building a microsite for a group, we want to offer them information on our attractions and restaurants. We show them what else they can do throughout their stay,” said Speros Batistatos, president and CEO of the South Shore CVA.
“Once members of the group visit an attraction or restaurant, they can post pictures and start discussions about their experience with others using the group-specific Facebook page,” said Batistatos.
These tools allow the South Shore CVA to ensure the visitors have an enjoyable time – all while putting the partners of the CVA in the forefront.
“It’s all about enhancing the visitor experience while they are here so they will want to come back,” said Sands.
Annually, the LBAA championships bring in $625,000 in economic impact. Combined with other sporting events brought to the area by the South Shore CVA, the South Shore sees over to $2.3 million in estimated economic impact.
“The money sports tourism brings to the area trickles down. It supports small businesses, ultimately, it supports jobs,” stated Batistatos.
Other sporting events planned along the South Shore during 2013 include Leon’s Triathlon June 2, the Professional Disc Golf Association World Championships August 3 through August 10 and the Cal Ripken Major World Series August 9 through August 16.