Given that many sports franchises and venues are still on a slower and harder path to revenue growth than they’d like, it seemed like a good time to offer a bit of a reflection on where the highest-return investments in facilities and franchise can be made right now.
And since we’re 5T and we’re doing this in 5 minutes, we’ll keep it to 5 ideas you can take away and think about.
Focus on the Basics
A few weeks back, in a column in Sports Business Journal, Barry Silberman outlined the aspects of the PGA Masters tournament that make the event an absolutely outstanding experience for its guests. And while the Masters is of course an international marquee event with a considerable budget, none of the things he discussed were big-ticket items.
Everything he cited was well-within reach of a municipal arena or a D-League hockey or basketball franchise: Cleanliness, Quality, Service and Value. In our rush to get things done, we often look past how they get done (but as we all know, that’s the first things any spectator notices, comments on and shares with others). The simplicity (guidelines and training) and incredibly low-cost of elevating the fan experience by attending to these four elements of a visitor’s experience is in the immediate reach of every facility manager. Do you have an expressed standard of cleanliness? Is it uniformly understood throughout your organization? Is your cleaning staff vested in that guest experience? If not, how could you change that?
Cleanliness, like quality, service and value, is individually defined and perceived, but rest assured if you’ve set the bar too low (or haven’t set a bar at all) you can bet you will fall short of most of your patrons’ expectations.
Remember Who Owns the ‘Shop’
One thing that strikes me about another iconic sporting event, the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup, is their sense of ‘stewardship’ of that event’s traditions. No matter who the host committee or city is, they seem to be genuinely ingrained with an understanding that the fans ‘own’ the event – so no matter where it is held there are certain aspects that are dictated from the ground up (gathering space & hospitality for each of the league’s eight teams, for example). Most venues and organizers view the event from the angle of their capabilities first, and the guests wishes second (or third if they put the sponsors ahead of them). Make this mental shift. No, really. Don’t just mouth the words. Do it today and mean it.
Every Bum is Sacred, Every Bum is Great*
I won’t set these comments to a tune, but perhaps you should, to weave this thinking throughout the office. There was a tendency for a while to put a disproportionate amount of focus on premium seat holders, sponsors and other big-ticket elements of revenues, often to the detriment of the guy in section 321 who was faithful to a fault and had the foam finger collection to prove it. There he is, game in and game out – latest logo shirt purchased at the beginning of the season, two beer and a popcorn habit he can’t shake. So he’s good for about $45 – 70 per game for you, and he shows you the love. Doesn’t he deserve the same respect, acknowledgement and appreciation that Mr. I-can’t-be-bothered-to-hand-off-my-ticket Empty-Seat gets from you? A simple email now and then is nice, but how about treating him royally, too. Inviting him out for a behind the scenes tour or a meet & greet. Cost – negligible.Sentiment – priceless.
Enough about Me, Let’s Talk About You
Publicity, Advertising, Marketing – get the message out. And get it out often. Sure, you tell the world about your events, your schedule, your facility, your concessions, your special offers.
When was the last time you asked them anything? If you answered yes, good for you. If you asked it in an open-ended question instead of on a scale of 1-5, better for you. If you asked them in person, face-to-face instead of through Survey Monkey, really good for you.
I think you get the idea. You know the old saying – two ears, one mouth, do the math.
Mama Always Said….
Mind your manners. Do all your event staff – and your front office team – welcome your guests in warmly and thank them genuinely when they leave? I don’t always experience this at events and games I attend. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, I volunteered for Event Services and made a particular point of thanking people on the way out. The response was almost always pleasant surprise. I know many of my fellow volunteers did the same and this was one of the reasons that the 2010 volunteers’ friendliness were cited again and again as one of the best aspects of the games. The venues, tickets, security and transportation were big ticket items. The volunteers – while not free – were much less by comparison.
So thank you for investing five minutes with me. I truly appreciate your time, hope that I’ve added some value (or at least some food for thought) and I very much welcome yourcomments, suggestions, feedback and critique. I also sincerely apologize to Monty Python, but it is a catchy tune so I couldn’t resist.
*With due deference to Monty Python’s Every Sperm is Sacred, The Meaning of Life.