With the now record-breaking high temperatures of June signaling summer’s surefire presence, many of us cannot wait to get away to the coast and see what’s going on at the beach. But for Mike Anderson, that job is not just a seasonal worry.
Anderson, who graduated in 1992 with a business degree from NC State’s Poole College of Mangement, is the executive director of sports tourism for the Myrtle Beach Regional Sports Alliance. He spends his time trying to forge relationships with organizations who want to put on tournaments, competitions, trade shows and expos in Myrtle Beach, S.C. “Sports tourism is basically events,” he says. “It involves the hospitality industry.”
A resident adviser in Bragaw Hall from his sophomore to senior years, Anderson also had a gig at what is now the Holiday Inn at Crabtree Valley Mall. “That was my first taste of life in the tourism business,” he says, adding that job prepared him for many years working for Hilton Hotels, where he did everything from running sheets and towels to rooms to manning the front desk and working in sales.
Even though Myrtle Beach is known for its renowned golf courses, Anderson works to convince event owners that the area is a destination for all sports, from signature events like the Beach Ball Classic that brings in elite high school basketball teams every December to emerging games like pickleball, an almost mini-version of tennis. North Myrtle Beach even hosted the 2014 International Quidditch Association World Cup.
It’s a little different than just getting people to vacation at the beach. “I’m not looking for a foursome to come to town,” says Anderson. “I’m looking for 1,000 people to come to town.”
Anderson also works with Myrtle Beach community partners and facilities operators who can logistically put on the events. “I can’t put on an archery show,” he says. “But I can show archery what Myrtle Beach can give it. So I have to find the archery club in the market who can run the event. I have to find that person. Name your sport.”
Despite the allure of all the sports he can attract, Anderson always faces competition from the Atlantic Ocean, which easily distracts visitors from sporting events in the community. But rather than disregard the sea’s finer points, he makes it part of his pitch.
“It’s hard to overcome God’s pool,” he says. “One of the testaments I heard from a customer is a great quote. They don’t mind losing. They just go to the beach the rest of the time.”