Case Study: 2019 MiLB Partner Summit
By: Katie Foglia
Last week, our partners at Minor League Baseball (MiLB) hosted their third annual MiLB Partner Summit. More than 115 attendees from brands, agencies and teams (owners, board and staff) made their way to Brooklyn, New York for two days of networking, programming and (of course) fun. The Partner Summit was deemed a success from all who attended– and MiLB is already planning for next year’s Partner Summit, which will be held in Nashville, Tennessee.
Over the past decade, our teammates at 4FRONT have collectively either attended, presented at and/or led the planning and programming of more than 100 Partner Summits. That being said, there’s no doubt that this year’s MiLB Partner Summit was among the top of the list. Using the 2019 MiLB Partner Summit as a case study, our team is excited to share our nine biggest tips on how to host a best-in-class Partner Summit!
1. Begin by Asking: What Does Success Look Like?
For any event, big project, etc. our team at 4FRONT always begins with the end in mind. What does that mean? We ask: ‘What does success look like?’ so we can better understand and work towards that outcome. To do this collaboratively, we created a mission statement that everyone agreed upon and allowed us to collectively work towards one goal:
“To host a showcase event that will educate and inspire strategic partners on topics critical to their business success through engaging, meaningful and memorable touchpoints, while bringing partners closer to the MiLB community.”
2. Think About the ‘Before’ and ‘After’ Experience (Not Just the ‘During’)
People often approach events by thinking through the time during the actual event. But the ‘before’ and ‘after’ are just as, if not more, important. The MiLB team did an amazing job of thinking through the RSVPs (which included asking everyone for their walk-up song [more to come on that later]), creating a website with all of the event information, sending out a homework assignment that would be a key part of one of the workshop sessions and sending out timely communication the night before the opening happy hour event.
The ‘after’ included a surprise and delight swag bag for one lucky attendee on the bus ride home, an open happy hour tab at the hotel on the last night of the Partner Summit, courtesy of next year’s hosts the Nashville Sounds, and a survey sent out to all attendees asking for feedback.
3. Who’s Your Host?
In addition to having a dynamic host city and team, Brooklyn, New York and the Brooklyn Cyclones, having an energetic, engaging emcee or a host for a partner summit can be a total game changer. MiLB found the perfect host for this year’s event in Lindsay Berra. Name look familiar? That’s because her grandfather was the legendary Yogi Berra. Lindsay is a writer, reporter, broadcaster, and storyteller and did an incredible job keeping the run of show and flow of the day in order. Not to mention she shared some amazing baseball stories and told a few jokes, too!
4. Integrate Your Partners!
MiLB did a tremendous job integrating its partners throughout the entirety of the MiLB Partner Summit, including serving Uncle Ray’s chips & Applegate snack packs during a break in the sessions. Heather Raburn, Director of Partnership Marketing at MiLB, led a partnership panel featuring representatives from three partners: ECHO Incorporated, Allegiant Air and Applegate Farms.
Additionally– during one of the workshop sessions led by 4FRONT’s own Brian Gainor on The Power to Inspire, Empower & Create Social Good– attendees representing Allegiant Air stepped up to offer a prize for the winner of Gainor’s social good brainstorm activity. Each person from the winning group received one free, round-trip airfare.
And the award for the most valuable player at the softball game was awarded a Bush’s Beans MVP trophy.
5. Attention to Detail (The Little Things Are the Big Things)
Behind every successful event is a hardworking, dedicated staff making sure every little detail is covered! And the MiLB Partner Summit was no exception. MiLB staff, including Meghan Madson, Jessica Nori and Miranda Mauro, were the driving force behind all the little things! Here’s just a few examples:
- When attendees arrived, the host hotel staff were all wearing MiLB T-shirts
- At the Partner Summit Social Networking event (AKA the kick-off happy hour the night before the event), the bartenders were wearing MiLB gear, the bar menu featured custom MiLB-themed cocktails, attendees were served beverages with MiLB koozies and the rooftop pool had baseball-themed floats
- During the Partner Summit, the printed agenda had the exact amount of information necessary, every attendee received a MiLB notebook & pen to jot down takeaways
- Attendees all had great takeaways, including an MiLB Brand Book, MiLB Partner Summit shirt, Brooklyn Cyclones hat, etc.
6. Get People Off the Sidelines and into the Game and Community!
In the afternoon, between sessions, MiLB integrated a community component to get attendees on their feet and giving back to the community. MiLB worked with local non-profit One Sandwich at a Time. The non-profit works closely with the host team, the Brooklyn Cyclones, every year to donate sandwiches to hungry New Yorkers. At the Partner Summit, everyone was broken up into two teams: Team Ham & Cheese and Team Peanut Butter & Jelly. The teams raced to see who could build more sandwiches first and win. The attendees hit a new record of 2,500 sandwiches!
7. Give Attendees a Once-In-A-Lifetime Experience
To end the day, attendees were given a VIP tour of MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones. After touring the ballpark, each attendee had a jersey and hat waiting for him or her in the locker room. The group was split into two teams: Brooklyn Bagels & Brooklyn Slices. After a cookout, the teams took the field for a softball game. Each attendee’s custom walk-up song played during each at bat– and MiLB brought out New York Mets Hall of Famer John Franco to pitch. There were fun promotions between innings and the game ended with an announcement video on the scoreboard sharing that next year’s Partner Summit would be held in Nashville.
8. Show (vs. Tell) Why It’s Fun to Be A Partner!
MiLB did an awesome job keeping the Partner Summit fun! With the softball game in the evening, attendees were encouraged to wear shorts and comfortable attire– which completely changed the tone of the event and kept things relaxed. Lindsay Berra kept the day light with a ton of great stories and jokes; and there were fun activities along with the Brooklyn Cyclones mascots greeting and taking photos with attendees throughout the day.
9. Look Ahead to Next Year!
As mentioned above, MiLB announced the host city for next year to cap off the night and has already begun the planning process for Nashville 2020. One of the best things to do after an event is have staff write out their thoughts within 24-48 hours of the biggest highlights and key takeaways to have on hand for the future. This year’s MiLB Partner Summit will be hard to top, but we are looking forward to helping MiLB hit it out of the park again next year!