Firstly an important disclaimer, I have had absolutely zero involvement in the development or execution of anything Pan Am related. These thoughts are purely from the point of view of a casually interested observer.
Hit: Event Execution
I took my son to see Beach Volleyball and the event itself was very well executed… engaging, great venue and super fun atmosphere. It was also quite refreshing to get good seats for a reasonable price. I’ve heard unanimously good things about other venues and events too.
Miss: Communication Message
Unfortunately (and admittedly this may have been influenced by word of mouth and not exclusively paid media) there seemed to be more emphasis on ‘stay off the roads / out of the city’ than ‘come join the games’. This prompted a knee jerk negative reaction on the part of many residents. The radio / transit ads directing people to work flexibly or from home were a bit galling – how many of us have total control over our workday? Perhaps a different, targeted outreach to business leaders would have been more effective for that particular message.
Hit: Panamania Activation
The arts and culture festival seems to be a standout activation – a nice way to create added excitement and to broaden the appeal of the games. And such a clever name too!
Miss: Venue Names
I’m sure there must have been a rationale for using 3 letter acronyms for the various venues. But for those of us who live here and know the existing venues by their everyday names, it made it very confusing. Rarely did there seem to be an obvious link between the acronym and either the sport that would be featured or the venue’s location in the GTA. More than once I drove by venue signs with no idea what sports would be featured there. It seems like a missed opportunity to target nearby residents especially with the venues scattered across the GTA.
Hit: Ticket prices that included transit
What a smart little incentive. Once I figured out that the Beach Volleyball was being hosted in the Exhibition Grounds and not at the actual Beach (long after I purchased the tickets, and this despite my best efforts to cross reference the ticketing website with the venue list open in another window on my iPhone) I was delighted to avoid the HOV lanes and take the Go. And even more delighted not to have to line up for a ticket.
Miss: Brand Activation not felt at all venues
I saw compelling activation from a variety of brands at Pan Am Park. Chevrolet’s pedal power race for example was both engaging and relevant. But I heard from spectators at the venues further afield like Swimming and Baseball that they did not see branded activation at those venues and felt it was a missed opportunity.
Overall, I do think the games themselves were well executed and a positive experience for those of us that attended. And the amazing performances of our athletes really did us proud. My hope is that if we see another event of this scale someday we can set up realistic and positive expectations in order to be even more successful in spreading the excitement around.