DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau, DuPage Sports Commission focus on next steps for sports tourism

  • Igor Bakovic is the new sports market manager for the DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau.

    Igor Bakovic is the new sports market manager for the DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau. Courtesy of DuPage Convention and Visitors Bureau

 
 
Updated 6/30/2021 5:36 PM

The DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau recently announced a new hire to work with stakeholders throughout DuPage County -- hotels, park districts, athletic venues, business sponsors and municipal partners -- to advance DuPage's presence in the lucrative sports tourism market. Igor Bakovic is the new sports market manager, charged with helping to carry forth the DuPage Sports Commission strategic plan.

Bakovic brings an unrivaled mix of experience to the position. Before joining DCVB, he was a core complex sales manager at Marriott International, representing 24 hotels in the Minneapolis, Des Moines, Iowa City, St. Louis and Kansas City markets with focus on driving top line revenue. Prior to his time with Marriott International, he spent six years in the logistics and supply chain management industry working for Great Lakes CocaCola, Coyote Logistics as well as Fredonia Inc. After graduating from Ryerson University, Bakovic spent four years playing basketball professionally in Europe for clubs in Greece, Germany, Bulgaria and Austria.

 

"As we begin down the road to recovery from the pandemic, now is the right time to put more energy and resources into the sports market given the return on investment for our businesses and communities when participants, families and spectators spend their dollars in DuPage," said DCVB Executive Director Beth Marchetti. "In addition to being the right time, it was also about finding the right person. Having been a professional athlete with Marriott knowledge and training -- it's a marriage of two worlds that will serve him well in building relationships and advancing collaboration."

In 2019 after having worked with two major sports consulting firms and a Sports Advisory Committee, the DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau launched the sports commission in recognition of sports tourism's sustained growth and need to diversify DuPage's tourism portfolio. The sports commission represents sports assets and partners under one regionally led brand, recruiting, retaining and facilitating sports events for DuPage County. As advocates for sports development, its efforts help the DuPage region realize the economic, social and community-based benefits of sports.

According to a landmark study released in September 2020 by Tourism Economics, nearly 180 million people traveled to a sports event in the U.S. in 2019 either as a participant or spectator, which generated 69 million room nights and $45.1 billion in spending across lodging, transportation, food and beverage, entertainment, retail and tournament operations. Over a five-year period from 2015 to 2019, sports tourism spending increased 16.7%.

The DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau and the DuPage Sports Commission use data-driven research and planning to help expand DuPage's market share and grow visitor expenditures to DuPage, which had reached $2.9 billion in 2019. The sales team, led by Director of Sales Noonie Aguilar, along with Sales Market Manager Angela Rauen will continue to represent DuPage County's two million square feet of meeting space, group venues and over 100 hotels to ensure that in the coming months DuPage remains front and center in economic recovery

Within its service area, the DuPage CVB represents 38 communities, as well as hundreds of individual businesses that make up its membership. The organization's budget is supported by hotel taxes from supporting DuPage municipalities, membership dues, Illinois Office of Tourism grant funds, and financial assistance from the DuPage County Board.