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Navarino Challenge: How Does a Sports Tourism Event React to a Pandemic?

Photo by Elias Lefas @ Navarino Challenge

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a global health crisis. The general lockdown in Greece, which lasted for almost two months, evidently has created concerns and insecurity in the business market, with companies cautiously considering their plans for the next day – the post-coronavirus era.

Active Media Group PR & Communications Manager Harris Linardos gives us his opinion and shares the ways the company managed its communication for Navarino Challenge during the crisis. An annual event being held in Messinia, Pylos and Costa Navarino, Navarino Challenge is the only Greek sports tourism event that has won the Best Wellness event distinction at the International Travel & Tourism Awards of the WTM London expo.

  • Has the Navarino Challenge event been canceled or postponed for 2020?

For the time being, we have kept the initial dates that we had announced for the event to take place between October 16-18, 2020. However, a prerequisite is the health and safety of all athletes, visitors, volunteers, and other associates. All participants will have to commit to fully complying with the safety measures imposed by the Greek state, as well as those to be added by the event.

  • How are sports tourism event organizers dealing with the crisis?

Every organizer must, above all, be informed, listen carefully and be aware of the decisions and directions given by the official authorities of each country.
We evaluate all data given on a daily basis and are not rushing to make any decisions yet. We always follow the instructions given by the Greek Tourism Ministry, the General Secretariat of Sports, the Olympic Committee and above all the Health Ministry since we are dealing with a global health crisis. The first few days of the pandemic were certainly difficult for everyone, but in such circumstances, you have to listen, plan and adjust your strategy effectively, based on the data available at that particular time. Communication never stops. Some channels of communication may have “paused” but there is always an alternative way to reach your audience.

  • In what ways did you try to increase your sales?

The measures requesting people to initially stay home and stay safe, left no thought for promoting registration or any kind of sale. This was the last thing on our minds. The issue of health and safety was and still is so intense that it exceeds any need to participate in any race. The human element has been prioritized, while new issues were taken into account with subjects more relevant to the average participant.
This is why we gave participants the opportunity for a refund of their registration costs up to August 31 and further notice.

  • How are you approaching the participating athletes and your audience?

Our event used social media as the main means of communication to reach out to participating or interested athletes. We tried to inform and educate our audience and proceeded with a series of actions. To be more specific, we informed our audience of the following:

a) Navarino Challenge was the Greek event that adopted the “Stay Home” movement from the first day. The event started promoting this message before all other sports events in the country. From that day on, the material we uploaded on the event’s social media was related to the climate of that time, offering positive energy and useful information to the audience above all.

b) At the same time, through the “Till then, Stay Safe” message we supported the campaign of Marketing Greece, in a responsible way, while promoting Greek tourism and the region of Messinia.

 

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#menoumespiti και προετοιμάζουμε την επόμενη περιπέτεια, με επίσκεψη σε μοναδικά αξιοθέατα της Μεσσηνίας! Ο φάρος της Σφακτηρίας είναι εγκατεστημένος στο νησάκι Φανάρι ή Τσιχλή Μπαμπά δίπλα στη Σφακτηρία στη δυτική πλευρά της εισόδου του κόλπου της Πύλου και κατασκευάστηκε το 1873. We #StayHome and we prepare the next adventure, visiting the unique sites of #Messinia! The lighthouse of #Sfaktiria was built in 1873. It is located on the Fanari or Tsichli Baba islet, which is next to Sfaktiria island and is accessible by boat from #Pylos. Till then, #StaySafe. #NavarinoChallenge #staystrong #sportsunitepeople Photo credits: @loukas_hapsis

A post shared by Navarino Challenge (@navarinochallenge) on


c) We gave emphasis to the creation and promotion of videos that advertise Messinia and the exceptional natural beauty and history of the destination, encouraging our audience and at the same time highlighting the importance of the region.

d) We uploaded material related to the work of significant personalities with origins from Messinia, informing the audience about their work, while associating it with the event.


e) In addition, we spread our messages by celebrating International Days, always related to the topics of our event, such as Earth Hour.


f) but also, through quizzes that we created.

We also educated our audience:

a) Since most people stayed home and had enough time to read, we suggested weekly articles for study, in their leisure time, with a subject relevant to Navarino Challenge.
b) We encouraged the audience to buy books through e-shops or to purchase e-books in order to enhance their mind and spirit.

c) We created a weekly column with stories of great interest related to Messinia’s history, thus educating our audience.

d) In collaboration with the beloved Peloponnesian food blogger and author Mamatsita we posted traditional recipes with local delicacies that were perfect for home cooking during the quarantine.

e) In collaboration with the event’s ambassadors we uploaded positive and responsible video-messages to support the audience as well as training programs for exercise at home, emphasizing on the importance of a healthy lifestyle even during these unprecedented times, as exercise is necessary for all of us.

f) We presented various Messinian monuments and museums, educating our audience about the rich history of the destination and encouraging our audience to explore them once the quarantine had ended.

 

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#menoumespiti και προετοιμάζουμε την επόμενη περιπέτεια, με επίσκεψη σε μοναδικά αξιοθέατα της Μεσσηνίας! Το Ακρωτήριο Ταίναρο ή Κάβο Ματαπάς είναι το νοτιότερο άκρο της ηπειρωτικής Ελλάδας, και το δεύτερο νοτιότερο της ηπειρωτικής Ευρώπης. Το όνομά του οφείλεται στον επώνυμο μυθικό ήρωα και οικιστή Ταίναρο, γιο του Δία που έκτισε την ομώνυμη πόλη Ταίναρο επί του ισθμού της Ακρωταινάριας χερσονήσου. We #StayHome and we prepare the next adventure, visiting the unique sites of #Messinia! Cape Tainaron or Cape Matapan is the southernmost point of mainland Greece and the second southernmost point in mainland Europe. In ancient Greek mythology the eponymous ctistes – the founder-hero of the city – was Taenarus, son of Zeus. #NavarinoChallenge #staystrong #staysafe #sportsunitepeople Photo credits: @loukas_hapsis

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g) Finally, we posted educational material of the event’s strategic partner National Geographic such as TV documentaries and informative texts.

  • What have you learned during these difficult times?

Now more than ever, we had to be more creative with how we look after each other and ourselves. Navarino Challenge was present by helping its audience maintain a healthy heart, body and spirit, through activities that can be performed at home. We focused even more on the “human” factor, while at the same time having all of our departments operating with an emphasis on creatively designing the next day. Working from home, was something we did from the beginning. It was an opportunity for us to work remotely, avoiding face to face meetings, while keeping the same efficiency on our work. It is definitely something we will continue to implement in the future.

  • Is there a message you would like to share with fellow organizers and participants?

According to Euripides, “It is not for us to force the will of fortune”. It is not right to force our luck. We need patience. The safety and health of all participants and staff is a top priority for any sports tourism event organizer, especially in the days of a health crisis. One thing is for sure, we will all win together.

* The award-winning sports tourism event Navarino Challenge will be held for the 8th consecutive year during October 16-18, 2020.

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