The 2021 USPTA (United States Professional Tennis Association) World Conference in Las Vegas Sept. 19-23 offers many opportunities for racquet club general managers to improve their business and professional lives. The event returns to an in-person format at the Westgate Resort and Casino.
The event is one of the world’s largest gatherings of tennis professionals, industry leaders, representatives, manufacturers, wholesalers, and media. The five-day schedule includes educational classes, on-court seminars, USPTA meetings, industry discussions, evening social events, and the 2021 Awards presentation.
To get the most out of the World Conference, here are six steps for general managers and club professionals to follow. Use these techniques and you are sure to walk away from the conference with information you can use.
Pre-set Conference Meetings. Do your research on industry leaders and connections who are important to you and reach out to them beforehand to set up a meeting. It can be informal, like a quick phone call or email to schedule time for coffee. The key is to not wait until the last minute or while you are at the show to set something up.
Schedules get full fast, so setting up meetings with the people you recognize from the list of USPTA presents (visit www.uspta.com for full presenter schedule) puts you way ahead. Also, there are sure to be people you run into that you didn’t know, so you have to have time for those “new” meetings.
Get involved in the conference, ideally as a presenter, but also as a volunteer. While this usually is an opportunity to pursue 6 to 12 months before the event, there may be opportunities for service that pop up while at the conference. If you can take on a visible role, you will set yourself apart from the crowd.
Also, Monday night from 5 to 9 p.m. at the event is a Trade Show, so make sure you attend this function with a stack of business cards. There will be a wealth of information at the booths.
Choose the Right Sessions
The 2021 schedule offers more than 40 sessions to choose from—visit www.uspta.com to check out the entire schedule. There are going to be many more than you’ll be able to attend, so take a hard look at the speakers and choose wisely.
The speakers and panelists at any conference are key experts—for example on Sunday, Sept. 19, Emma Doyle of Australia discusses coaching female players, while on Monday, Sept. 20, Dr. Jim Loehr, world-renowned performance psychologist, talks about how character counts.
Look at all the sessions and events you’re interested in, then make sure you’re getting to attend a range of topics, skill-building sessions, and social events, and still allowing for some down time.
If a session is a dud, move on to the next one and don’t regret it. A conference is all about using your time wisely and getting the most out of all that’s there.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or hang around (even as the last person) at a session to say hello, tell them you loved the presentation, and grab their business cards. And if you don’t get a chance to ask your question in person, you can always follow up by asking them on Twitter.
Remember What You Learn
There’s a lot of take in with this many speakers and sessions—and you’re probably not going to remember all of it when you get home. So, collect your notes and information in a way that makes it easy to access when you return to the office. Regardless of your note-taking format of choice (pen and paper, laptop, tablet, smartphone), at the end of each session you attend, write down the three key takeaways and any follow-up you want to do on the topic or with the speakers. This will help jog your memory and give you specific to-dos when you get back to work.
Network at the Social Events
At the Trade Show from 5 to 9 p.m. on Monday Sept. 20, and at the Barbecue by the Pool on Wednesday evening at 6 p.m., there is a great opportunity to connect with people in a more relaxed setting. (Pro tip: These mixers can be more important than the sessions) And don’t be afraid to linger even the event is over—you don’t want to cut off a great conversation with someone just to hit the blackjack tables!
At the USTPA conference, after collecting business cards, new Facebook friends, and Twitter followers, it’s time to do something with them. Within a week of returning from the event, send a personal follow-up to everyone you met to let them know you enjoyed meeting them. Also set up a phone call or face-to-face meetings with anyone you specifically want to do business or build a relationship with.
Mike Manzella, founder of Racquet-Pros.com, has experience as both an employer and a coach, and as noted currently serves as Executive Director of Racquets of South Towns Tennis Club, in Orchard Park, New York.