Our Serve: Framing Our Future
During the US Open, there are always a lot of meetings and presentations with members of the industry and the USTA. These gatherings, while perhaps not barn-burners, are interesting to me because they celebrate the sport, look to increase business and allow you to connect with others working to grow this industry.
During TIA meetings and at the USTA Semiannual Meeting, Craig Morris, the USTA’s general manager of Community Tennis and Youth Tennis, made it a point to connect with as many industry members as possible. Morris, who came to the USTA last fall from Tennis Australia, was looking to push his important message of focusing on the tennis “customer” to help grow this sport at all levels. (See the September/October issue for a Q&A with Morris.)
The TIA also sponsored an excellent roundtable with retail expert Dan O’Connors. O’Connor covered a wealth of information, but the crux of his message was that the fundamentals of retail are shifting to stay current with consumer habits. Businesses and organizations, including the sport of tennis, must adapt quickly to be able to survive and grow.
Adding to all this, at the TIA Tennis Forum, was a message that Dr. Jack Groppel is bringing to this industry: the need to convey the health and fitness benefits of tennis. Groppel, who has a long history in the science of human performance — but who admits tennis is his first love — is now the “health and wellness advisor” for the tennis industry.
What does all this mean? We need to re-examine how we go to market with this sport at every level. Across the board, we need to find out what approaches will make tennis appeal to everyone in a sustainable way. As a top sales consultant recently told me, it’s not about making one sale — it’s about generating repeat business with that same consumer.
The retail landscape is much different now than it was 10 years ago. Consumer attitudes, habits and desires have changed. And technology continues to change how we get information, buy products and create experiences.
As an industry, we often talk a good game when it comes to the future, but we tend to be glacially slow in making key changes and course adjustments — and, quite simply, in reading the signs. Many of the issues and challenges that we’re just now “figuring out” were raised years ago.
The USTA National Campus and the renovations at the National Tennis Center seem to be well in hand. So let’s open up that throttle and focus on the changes we need to make — now-to increase participation of new and existing players, sell more racquets, get more courts built and reframe how we market this sport.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of Tennis Industry magazine.
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