SEAT magazine, published by the Association of Luxury Suite Directors


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Highlights from SEAT magazine, published by the Association of Luxury Suite Directors. 80 page magazine designed and produced by Carole Winters Art + Design.

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SEAT magazine, published by the Association of Luxury Suite Directors

  1. 1. RELIVE THE ALSD CONFERENCE IN PHOTOS: Find Yourself at LA LIVE PAGE 46 S E AT LEADING THE PREMIUM SEAT INDUSTRY WWW.ALSD.COM SUMMER 2011 P U B L I S H E D B Y T H E A S S O C I AT I O N O F L U X U R Y S U I T E D I R E C T O R STHE DESTINATION SUITE Cambria’s Design Studio at Target Field PLUS: Why is the ALSD going to Minneapolis in 2012? PAGE 40 Member Editorial: Member Highlight: An Analysis of Best PracticesHow Jake Bye & the St. Louis “Rally Rob” and Tulsa’s Utilized by Suite DirectorsRams Sell Suite Partnerships Entertainment Well PAGE 60 PAGE 16 PAGE 32
  2. 2. S E A T 2011 Published by the Association of Luxury Suite Directors COVER STORY40 POLISHED BRANDING One company surfaces as a preeminent branded sports marketing SUMMER partner. Visit the “facility” at Target Field, a destination suite that is a world of its own – Cambria’s Design Studio. PLUS: Learn why the ALSD is going to Minneapolis in 2012. BY AMANDA VERHOFF FEATURES46 ALSD 2011 IN PHOTOS This year’s ALSD Conference and Tradeshow at LA LIVE was one for the ages. In this year’s show recap, SEAT relives the memories of all the events through the lens of SuiteCaptures photography. See if you can 40 find Waldo, or even yourself.54 HOW TO WIN DESPITE LOSING Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” But for many ALSD members, winning on the field is an uncontrollable variable. Instead, teams focus on what they can control – creating superior customer service and memorable experiences. BY RYAN MIRABEDINI60 AN ANALYSIS OF BEST PRACTICES UTILIZED BY LUXURY SUITE DIRECTORS ALSD members completed two surveys earlier this year – one for sales professionals; the other for service professionals. The results are now unveiled. BY HEATHER LAWRENCE, PH.D. 4668 ALL CITIES ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL SEAT presents a summary of the four-part series, investigating suite pricing across a multi-variant landscape in the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB. The researchers then aggregate all teams and break them down by geographic location to further investigate the business of sports. BY DR. PETER TITLEBAUM AND DIANE BRANCA, MBA74 CREATING PREMIUM SPONSORSHIP ENGAGEMENT WITH TECHNOLOGY Sponsor presence in stadiums and arenas once consisted of simply splashing static logos around the venue. Not anymore. Welcome to the era of dynamic environments. BY JUSTIN WOOD About the Cover: The Minnesota Twins and Cambria have created a unique branding 74 partnership, highlighted by Cambria’s Design Studio at Target Field. Contents continues overleaf #SEATSummer2011 | | S E A T | 5
  3. 3. SUMMERS E A T 2011 ASSociATion of Luxury SuiTE DirEcTorS Chairman Bill Dorsey Executive Director Amanda VerhoffPublished by the Association of Luxury Suite Directors President Jennifer Ark, Green Bay Packers VP, Business Development Pat McCaffrey Director, Sponsor and Partnership Development Dene Shiels Editor of SEAT, Website Director Jared Frank National Sales Manager Scott Hinzman Membership Director Ryan Mirabedini Design Carole Winters Art + Design Director of Finance Dan Lindeman Financial Account Manager Vickie Henke Director of Interactive Media John Tymoski ExECuTIVE CoMMITTEE Chris Bigelow, Bigelow Companies Brian Bucciarelli, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Greg Hanrahan, united Center Tom Kaucic, Southern Wine & Spirits 34 Pat McCaffrey, ALSD Kim Reckley, Detroit Red Wings & olympia Entertainment DEPARTMENTS BoARD oF DIRECToRS8 NEW ALSD MEMBERS Janie Boles, Auburn university Natalie Burbank, utah Jazz / Salt Lake Bees14 ALSD STAFF EDITORIAL Richard Dobransky, Delaware North Companies Editor’s Note Trent Dutry, uS Airways Center BY JARED FRANK Chris Granger, National Basketball Association The Myth of Ownership (Page 18) MIke Guiffre, Pittsburgh Penguins BY BILL DORSEY Adam Kellner, Chicago Bears Gerald Kissel Debbie Massa, RoI Consulting16 ALSD MEMBER EDITORIAL Scott O’Connell, Minnesota Twins Baseball Club How Do You Ask for the Sale? BY JAKE BYE 24 Mike Ondrejko, Legends Premium Sales Richard Searls, New York Red Bulls SPORTS & eNTeRTAINMeNT ALLIANCe IN TeCHNOLOGy Tom Sheridan, Chicago White Sox22 ALSD MEMBER Q&A S.E.A.T. ExECuTIVE CoMMITTEE Peter Titlebaum, university of Dayton Christine Stoffel, Founder, S.E.A.T. Consortium24 INDUSTRY AND ASSOCIATION Chris Wood, S.E.A.T. Chief Technology Advisor/Coordinator NEWS S.E.A.T. 2011 STEERING CoMMITTEE Cleveland Indians devote suite to its social Bob Jordan, New Meadowlands Stadium Co. media initiative Casey Bookout, university of oklahoma ALSD adds three members to its Board of Craig Neeb, International Speedway Corporation Chip Foley, Forest City Ratners Directors Chris Dill, Portland Trail Blazers Is tailgating the next new revenue stream? Dan O’Neil, National Hockey League Dennis Mills, Major Events International Published by Venue Pub. Inc. Copyright 2011. (All rights Jim Darrow, Ilitch Holdings/Detroit Red Wings reserved). SEAT is a registered trademark of the Association30 ON ALSD.COM of Luxury Suite Directors. SEAT is published quarterly and is John Avenson, Minnesota Twins Kevin Naylor, Indiana Pacers complimentary to all members of the Association of Luxury32 MEMBER HIGHLIGHT Larry Bonfante, united States Tennis Association Suite Directors. SEAT visits with: Lorraine Spadaro, DNC Boston, Inc/TD Garden Rob Gardenhire Mike Morris, Major League Baseball Nancy Galietti, National Football League Director of Marketing Peter Surhoff, Major League Baseball and Business Development Paul DelGuidice, National Basketball Association Tulsa Drillers Paul Barber, Vancouver Whitecaps FC BY JARED FRANK Richard Searls, Red Bulls Arena Roger Baugh, London 2012 olympics Association of Luxury Suite Directors 10017 McKelvey Road, Cincinnati, oH 45231 Sasha Puric, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment 513 674 055580 COMING ATTRACTIONS Steve Conley, Boston Red Sox Shane Harmon, New Zealand 2011 World Cup Rugby Tod Caflisch, New orleans Hornets Please Recycle This Magazine Wayne Wichlacz, Green Bay Packers6 | S E A T | | #SEATSummer2011
  4. 4. PoliShed Branding One company surfaces as a preeminent branded sports marketing partner. By Amanda Verhoff, Executive Director, ALSD S uite branding is not a new concept in the sports indus- exist. Coupled with the company’s passion for sports, particu- try. Nevertheless, it has been met with somewhat slow larly baseball, Cambria’s branding platform has morphed into a adoption and relative ambiguity. Accordingly, few teams premier partnership model in sports marketing. or companies have truly strived to find the formula for success. Until now. One industrious duo, comprised of the Minnesota PerPetually Premium Twins and Cambria, has engineered one of the most prosper- To appreciate a product’s quality, you have to see it, feel it and ous partnerships in suite branding to date. Cambria, the fami- experience it. Cambria’s product and potential purchasers are ly-owned, Le Sueur, Minnesota stone surface manufacturer, is both, in a literal and figurative sense, upscale and polished. refining its branding and has produced – and more importantly For that reason, there is not a better place for clients to absorb is utilizing it to its fullest potential – one of the most inventive a product’s appeal than on an exclusive premium level in a branded spaces in the venue marketplace: Cambria’s Design stadium or arena. Posh premium amenities further persuade Studio at Target Field. high-end clientele to remain in the captive environment that allows for key demonstrations, networking and interaction, and Background reinforced aesthetic and performance opportunities. Peter Martin, Executive Vice President of Marketing and At Target Field, the most posh premium space exists on the Residential Sales at Cambria, explains that early on Cambria first baseline, in two 16-person suites that have been combined felt the need for more than mainstream marketing to promote and built-out into Cambria’s Design Studio. Marty Davis, its products. He says, “We wanted to get into a medium that Cambria’s President and CEO and longtime advocate for the allowed us to differentiate ourselves and also to a certain extent Twins organization, worked with Scott O’Connell, Twins Di- have some unique ownership of it.” That said, while still in its rector of Suite and Premium Seat Sales and Service, and Dave infancy in 2002, Cambria teamed with the Minnesota Twins St. Peter, Twins President, to develop the concept for a party- to brand the Cambria Skybox Suite in the Metrodome. Since sized suite with 32 external seats and 12 internal seats. From then, Cambria has installed not only countertops, but any sur- there, the Twins worked hand-in-hand with Cambria’s archi- face ripe for its quartz surfaces in the Minneapolis market and tects and designers on the suite layout. The photos included beyond. In all, no fewer than 15 North American partnerships in this article illustrate the finished product, a custom double40 | S E A T | | #SEATSummer2011
  5. 5. cambria entertains 100-125 times a year in the design Studio, including all twins home games and numerous non-game day events. Food and beverage options are available for each event, and cambria personnel are on-hand for each game and non-game day event. a camBria client on the deSign Studio: Branding Bullseye: Cambria’s activation at Target Field hits the Creative Surfaces, Inc., a national manufacturing company of custom store fixtures, signage and countertops for mark for its guests. the retail, automotive and casino industries, is one such customer who, after experiencing the Cambria Design Studio, felt the product was the right fit. “We have enjoyed the benefit of using the Cambria Design Center with our customers. The trips in their entirety are an experience, from the bus ride, where we mingle and get to know our customers to the amazing experiences at the games to the product knowledge gained by the plant tours and interactions with our Cam- bria representatives. Our customers get a sense of what Cambria is all about when they see the outpouring of generosity from our Cambria representatives during their trip. The experience has definitely turned a local custom home builder into a Cambria believer. A customer confided that after seeing the total Cambria package, he knew that Cambria was right for his high-end homes and demanding customers. As we follow up with our customers on the trip, we see a repeating pattern – it wasn’t any one thing that stood out, it was the ‘Cambria experience’ as a whole that is the resounding sentiment.” – Jud Pins, CEO/President, Creative Surfaces, Inc. #SEATSummer2011 | | S E A T | 41
  6. 6. Hospitality By Design: Cambria suite with floor-to-ceiling Cambria finishings. Moreover, it ginning of a comprehensive plan to promote brand awareness. explains its designation of Design illustrates branding at its best, as the suite replicates possible Cambria has taken the following steps to ensure its brand is Studio in place of luxury suite: designs and fittings for commercial and residential projects. promoted efficiently and frequently. In no particular order: The Design Studio is “a private- engagement, by-invitation-only • Cambria refers to its party suite as a Design Studio. Draw-studio that highlights our products’ PartnerShiP ParameterS ing on innovation in its truest sense, Cambria decided that capabilities.” In the 10-year lease contract, Cambria agreed to pay for the “Design Studio” conveyed a more meaningful connotation double suite construction and installation of materials. Upon than luxury suite. “A private-engagement, by-invitation-only contract expiration, Cambria will have the opportunity to re-up studio that highlights our products’ capabilities” is Cambria’s or terminate the lease. If terminated, the Twins can leave the intention. suite as is if the team wishes, or the suite can be returned to • A Vice President of Sales for Cambria doubles as bartender its original condition, financed by Cambria. From the Twins’ in the Design Studio for Twins home games. Not only is he perspective, the contract outlines few limitations, but of im- versed in the world of olives and twists, but he is fluent in the portance, advertising needs to stay contained within the suite company’s lingo and product lines. and not extend into the hallways or exterior of the suite. One • Cambria offers educational courses in its suite. On the com- key contractual component is that the Cambria partnership mercial side, architects and designers have yearly continuing includes signage behind home plate, supplementing the brand’s education needs, much like doctors or lawyers. Cambria offers visibility to those in the stadium and to those in the television certified courses, often combined with stadium tours, which viewing market. carry credits for associations in the market segment. Cambria The Davis family, owners of Cambria and avid baseball holds instructional courses before games or during off days, fans, also receive tickets to the Champions Club as part of the the former with entertainment and hospitality to follow dur- agreement. The family seldom is not in attendance at home ing the game. games. O’Connell believes that the synergy and long-standing • Cambria entertains 100-125 times a year in the Design relationship between the Davis family and the Twins made Studio, including all Twins home games and numerous contractual and branding negotiations smooth and, in fact, non-game day events. Food and beverage options are avail- entertaining. Davis was one of the first to select his space in the able for each event, and Cambria personnel are on-hand for park, and O’Connell recalls visiting the two largest suites along each game and non-game day event. The Twins are more the first baseline, and Davis remarking, “I want them both!” than happy to accommodate distinctive food and beverage requests. duB it a deStination • The Twins often refer to the suite as a destination, as it is a Decorating a suite with a company’s materials is only the be- cut above the rest in terms of luxury and amenities. Twins42 | S E A T | | #SEATSummer2011
  7. 7. Suite Branding For dummieS –tiPS For teamS conSidering a Suite Branding oPPortunity:• Enter into the partnership only when strong synergy • Use it as your own sales tool. Get your other suite exists between the client and the team. holders’ creative juices flowing.• Whether considering a redesign or a new build, bring • Embrace a partner who embraces sports. A strong your best client in early and offer them the best partner is never a stranger to the ballpark. space. • Educate the client on how to leverage the branded• Because brand visibility is the main objective, en- suite. Remember, the team is the expert in the sports courage use on non-game days as well as game days. marketplace.• Put it in writing. Include as much detail as possible • Make it a destination, and brand it in namesake as about the contractual items, payments and return of well if it makes sense for the product. the suite to the original condition. • Look for ways the sponsor’s product can upgrade• Offer more than branding. Package the branding op- your venue, aside from the suite itself. portunity with prime signage or club seats. • Map out the client’s objective early on. For instance,• Ask permission to showcase the branded suite. To if the client’s goal is exclusivity, ballpark tours a team or venue, branding is not a new idea, but to through the suite are not appropriate. your clients and prospects, it might be. You will need • Recognize the right opportunity. Offer the opportu- a model to display. nity to outfit all suites, a club area or an entire con-• Because the suite holder will value the added visibil- course with a client’s product if they want stronger ity, ask for authorization to leverage the suite for the market penetration. Help brand just the client’s suite team or venue’s benefit. or exclusive area if market penetration is already• Contract it at the customer’s cost if you must; offer it strong. as a renewal incentive if you can. • If possible, showcase the product as it would be used• Encourage the client to do more than entertain. outside of the ballpark. Holding educational seminars is a meaningful ap- proach to get potential clients into the suite. #SEATSummer2011 | | S E A T | 43
  8. 8. Cambria or the Twins, but as is evident in the photos, it cer- tainly became a welcomed outcome. O’Connell recognizes it as a marketing opportunity and seizes it by allowing select suite clients and prospects into the suite. The Twins offer clients the freedom to decorate their suites, and they are clear about The “Facility”: The Design Studio alums frequent the suite with Cambria’s permission, which the financial and design responsibility from the outset – suite is a world of its own, serving they value greatly. Affiliation with Cambria from former holders have to cover payment of the suite build-out and the specific marketing goals of both players only strengthens the brand. suite’s return to its original state. Most clients and prospects Cambria and the Twins. • The Twins utilize the suite, with permission, for non-game understand, and some are warming up to the idea, namely the day events. O’Connell stated that MLB League Meetings 10-year lease holders who see it as an investment. were held in the suite, and Cambria is always open to permit- The Twins exercise caution however when exhibiting Cam- ting the Twins access to the suite for private functions. bria’s suite, understanding that some will wonder “why can’t I • The Twins often incorporate the suite in the ballpark tours have this in my suite.” The companies that “get it” realize that offered to guests. Cambria was hesitant at the onset as the Cambria’s own products led to the result of the branded De- suite was to be an exclusive experience, but Davis committed sign Studio. Those same companies were the first to have their to the additional exposure and is open to the showcase. creative juices flowing in their own suites. For instance, General Mills displays a giant Wheaties box in its suite. With built-in recognize the return bat in hand, guests have the opportunity to pose for pictures Return on investment is tough to track in any business. “on the Wheaties box.” O’Connell believes the trend is growing Sports marketing is no different, but Cambria recognizes that as companies embrace the right opportunity to highlight their an “experiential” method works well. Peter Martin believes, product or service. Ultimately, most companies do not offer “measurement sometimes occurs just from what we hear, feel surfaces to outfit a suite like Cambria does, but nonetheless, the and see in the marketplace. It is hearing from people who have best-informed clients discover they can too exploit their own had experience with your product.” That the suite is staffed products in a successful branding situation. for each ballpark event is of utmost importance, in accordance with hearing feedback from customers. Cambria also takes note in the end of testimonials from customers who have viewed advertise- For most teams, suite branding is not a new concept, but it ments at the park or on television. A more concrete method of comes with questions. Who will pay for the build out, the team branding ROI is tracking new business that results purely from or the client? What if a company defaults on its lease, and the a hosted event in the suite, in a nutshell, utilizing the tickets team is stuck putting the suite back to its original form? What and sponsorship opportunity the company has been given. is the true ROI value to the client, and how can the team Cambria, in its product and personnel, embraces the opportu- explain how it is measured? Yet some teams, like the Minne- nity to be seen, and in doing so, keeps a finger on the pulse of sota Twins, understand that with risk comes reward. The Twins the marketplace. create branding partnership models that ensure long-term rela- Another appeal for Cambria at Target Field is the baseball tionships with its clients. In the situation of the Cambria suite, game itself. While Cambria prides itself on its presence in branding not only adds to the overall sponsorship package and several professional sports venues, such as in the NBA’s Amway the ballpark’s appeal itself, it helps strengthen the relationship Center in Orlando and the NHL’s Xcel Energy Center in St. between the team and Cambria, helping to alleviate many Paul, the company realizes that baseball, for one, offers more of the abovementioned uncertainties. Cambria realizes that games, equaling more exposure. What’s more, there is a bit the visibility at Target Field leads to brand association in the more “downtime” during a baseball game, a slower paced game ballpark and beyond. In the end, the team reaps the benefit than say hockey or football. Finally, the absence of in-game and of a uniquely adorned suite, ripe for showing off, while the halftime events allow more time for entertainment to occur in company reaps the benefits of potential clients regularly seeing, the suite. By a gut feeling, Martin suggests that “the absorption feeling and most importantly, experiencing its products. # rate may be a little higher in baseball.”more on mlB on Do you have a client who you can approach with this idea? the trend to Brand Write to Amanda at, and connect with her onindianS conStruct The Cambria suite is truly a world of its own. Perhaps that is LinkedIn at Suite at why Scott O’Connell affectionately calls it a “facility” whenProgreSSive Field referencing it. Its wow factor was not initially deliberate by44 | S E A T | | #SEATSummer2011
  9. 9. So Why minneaPoliS?The ALSD historically attempts to hold our annual conferences in the cities with the most state-of-the-artvenues. Target Field, the new home of the Minnesota Twins, is, in our opinion, the best new ballpark to comearound in a long time. The fact that it won the “Facility of the Year “ from Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journalhelps substantiate our claim.But there are more reasons for Minneapolis.The Minnesota Wild’s Xcel Energy Center is often cited as the model for new hockey arenas being built inNorth America, and some believe it will some day reach nearly iconic status, like the Wrigleys and Fenwaysof the sports world. It has got a few years to achieve that kind of status, but the building has clearly been themodel used for so many arenas built in the past five years.But there is more.The ALSD Conference is nomadic. The idea is to give regions a chance to host the ALSD show. It has been awhile since we were in the Midwest, about a decade. This allows people who are regional a chance to travelmore easily. The cost. Lets face it – the Midwest is less expensive than New York and Los Angeles. For those teams ontighter budgets, you will find the hotel costs are around $100 less per room per night. Not only that, but thefood is less costly and in most cases, so too is the flight in, because we are in the middle of the country.Need more reasons?The ALSD is trying to reach out and grow our College and University Division. TCF Bank Stadium, the home ofUniversity of Minnesota Golden Gopher football, is state-of-the-art. It is quite possibly the best new collegefootball stadium built in the last decade.Tell me more.OK, we will. There are two seasons in Minneapolis – July 4th and winter. We are there over the July 4th week, inone of Americas most beautiful cities during its short summer season. It is absolutely gorgeous, and the foli-age is breathtaking. About 40,000 people live in Downtown Minneapolis which hosts many summer festivalsand has a “regionality” that is nearly unmatched. The city has been ranked the best bicycling city in the coun-try, so it is perfect for our active attendees, with 46 miles of streets with dedicated bike lanes and 84 miles ofoff-street paths. And for those who like the indoors – and more specifically shopping indoors – the renownedMall of America awaits.Give me more.Minneapolis is one of only 14 cities to have all four major sports. This allows league meetings to thrive, be-cause all four leagues call it their home.Whats not to like?Minneapolis offers great facilities, a Midwest location and affordable plane and hotel prices for the budget coming uP neXt:conscious. We are excited about Minneapolis, and we look forward to seeing you there. Where’S Waldo? #alSd2011 recaP in – Bill Dorsey, Chairman, ALSD PhotoS can you Find your- SelF? #SEATSummer2011 | | S E A T | 45
  10. 10. How toWinDeSpite LoSing As many of our ALSD members can attest, winning is uncontrollable and often hard to come by. Discover how some teams overcome more losses than wins through creating superior customer service and memorable experiences. By Ryan Mirabedini, Membership Director, ALSD S ports provide a very simple concept: there is a winner True. Winning is quite nice, but is it everything? It is clear and a loser. As Ricky Bobby would say, “If you’re not that some of the larger markets in the country, e.g., New York, first, you’re last.” Just ask any Cubs fan born after Chicago, LA and Dallas, have plenty of entertainment avenues 1908. Point being, people inherently love to win and/ other than sports for local companies, but coincidentally or be around a winner. From checkers to the Madden NFL enough, these cities all have notably successful franchises to call video game to the local 3-on-3 tournament and so forth, there their own. is no better feeling that being declared a victor. Combine this On the other hand, take a smaller market like Cleveland. It natural human emotion with a team that represents a com- is no secret that the city by the lake does not necessarily have munity, and we have the microcosm that is professional sports. the equivalent incentives as the aforementioned larger markets, Considering this idea, fans want to watch a game or match and residents can only visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where the organization they support is victorious. For any of so many times before it loses its luster. That leaves companies a multitude of reasons (small market, bad drafts, injuries, etc.), like KeyBank, Huntington and other larger companies in the some franchises have more success than others. This begs the area with local sports teams as their resource for employee age-old question: how can a franchise sell their product when awards and client entertainment. Take the Browns for example. the performance on the field is underwhelming? Reborn in 1999, they have the second worst record in the NFL As is common knowledge, the sale of suites and club areas since that time, yet nearly sell out every season. As part of brings into play several aspects for the company or individual their submission in the 2010-2011 ALSD Reference Manual, leasing it. The obligatory statement is that a purchase of this the Browns claimed their suites to be at 80% capacity which inventory is a major investment for any client. With that in is quite admirable considering the still lingering effects of a mind, a specific venue could have the highest rated customer down economy and poor team performances. When asked as service, concessions and facility in the industry, but if the team part of the survey what kind of effect the economy actually had, is being dismantled by a division rival, the check-ins of “How is the Browns responded, “The economy hurt renewal rates, and everything today?” are often met with a solemn “It’d be better if paired with a losing season, made us have to add more value- we were winning.” added programs.”54 | S E A T | | #SEATSummer2011
  11. 11. “the United Center premium Seating Department tries to touch our premium seating customers over 100 times a year, not including telephone calls and emails. we want to be in front of our customers at all times.” – Greg Hanrahan, United Center Added value options should not be overlooked as they are a fantastic way to alleviate some of the lackluster on-field perfor- mances. Offering suite holders and high-value customers with access to premium options such as private concierges, exclusive golf courses, transportation services, major event opportunities and trips to destinations like Las Vegas create an ability for customers to see the value in being part of the “club” at no ad- ditional cost. This is a beautifully ideal way to remind someone that may be disappointed by a team’s record that while it would be great to win a championship, it is not a terrible thing to have gratis accessibility to such rewarding incentives. The city of Pittsburgh, while often rivaling in competi- tion with Cleveland, is a very similar marketplace. According to, the population of Pittsburgh in 2009 was roughly 311,647 compared to 239,760 in Cleveland – close enough to have several parallels in market size and corporate dollars. This brings us to the Pittsburgh Pirates. For the previ- ous 18 seasons, the Pirates have not been able to finish the season above the .500 mark, but that does not stop the front office from being successful. “We typically do not sell wins and losses but instead focus on the things we can control,” says Chris Zaber, Senior Director of Ticket Sales & Service for the Pirates. “Providing excellent service and quality entertainment making sure his premium seat clients continue to return each are just a few.” A valid point when considering how highly year because of hard work and dedication. “We try to provide regarded PNC Park, the Pirates home, is considered through- the best service possible at all times,” says Hanrahan. “So no out the industry. matter what is going on the court or ice, we know our premium Zaber also notes, “Outside of that, having the right structure seating guests are having the best time possible at the United in place, a well-trained and motivated staff, and utilizing best Center.” This type of positive attitude helps the United Center practices can go a long way to maintaining your current client maintain one of the most respected levels of service on an an- base as well as growing your business regardless of how the nual basis in the industry. team is performing.” The main point here being that by the According to Hanrahan, “The United Center Premium nature of sports in general, there is always a winner and a loser. Seating Department tries to touch our premium seating cus- That cannot be changed. But a customer can still have a memo- tomers over 100 times a year, not including telephone calls and rable experience if the service is at a high level. emails. We want to be in front of our customers at all times.” Winning is also cyclical. A team may lose for several years, This outlook has served Hanrahan and his staff sufficiently for but in that time, they also stockpile draft picks and young 17 years now. talent that in some cases leads to a team’s success. This point Another approach to keeping fans in the stands while the leads to wondering how customers are convinced to have the losses are adding up is to focus on promotions and pricing. For necessary patience. Granted, it would be fantastic if every suite example, popular bobblehead nights often boost attendance by in the inventory of a venue was occupied on 10-, 15- and even up to 10,000 fans. While these priceless, plastic replicas with 20-year leases, but those days, minus some rare instances, are springs for necks rarely look like the player they represent, long gone. It does not take a certified genius to decipher that people will show up in droves to get their hands on the latest customer service is an integral, if not, all-deciding aspect to re- release. Nobody is quite sure why these trinkets work, but they tention. What does take true intuition is exactly how to provide do, and if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. the service necessary to keep morale in a desirable place. The Kansas City Royals have implemented this kind of Greg Hanrahan, Senior Director of Premium Seating at thinking to battle recent losing records but even more so to the United Center, has seen the highest of highs (The Jordan reward their passionate and loyal fans. According to Steve years and the Blackhawks Stanley Cup in 2010) and the low- Shiffman, Senior Director of Ticket Sales & Services with the est of lows (Post-Jordan/Pre-Derrick Rose and no hockey on Royals, they have created wildly popular “Buck Nights.” It is no local TV), but no scenario has ever altered his approach to secret that food & beverage prices hurt the common fan, but 55 | S E A T | | #SEATSummer2011
  12. 12. “our formula has been to continue to give as much season ticket holder value-added experiences, swag, renewal prizes, gifts and pricing consideration as possible.” – Tom Sheridan, Chicago White Sox on these “Buck Nights”, the Royals offer hot dogs, soft drinks, pretzels and popcorn for $1 each. Shiffman claims this promo- tion has provided a “huge spike” on Fridays, so much so that they often outsell Saturday night games. As for the Royals premium clients, the staff harps on the fu- ture of the team, a bevy of young, talented players and hosting the 2012 All-Star game, which can be seen as a major benefit for premium customers. By creating an atmosphere such as this, the Royals put themselves in a position for when that one magic season finally arrives, they will be ready to cash in on the goodwill they already embedded throughout the community and Kauffman Stadium. So what have we learned thus far? Well, yes, winning does help quite a bit as we might suspect but by no means defines the success of sales and services departments of the teams less fortunate in the standings. Bottom line is the ability of a professional franchise or a collegiate program to provide a venue for entertainment and unique business opportunities despite wins and losses. Having said that, the winning teams and schools do not stay the same each year. To this point is exactly why it is integral to have a plan in place to attack when that special season does arrive. Once that opportunity comes, which can be quite rare for smaller market teams, it is a battle to capitalize as best as possible initially, and then be prepared to maintain the following year(s) if the record happens to go back to mediocre or less. Just ask Tom Sheridan, Director of Ticket Sales with the game itself, the family entertainment factor and value become Chicago White Sox, who was part of the sales staff when the the draw.” She continues by adding, “Fans come to see various Southsiders won the World Series six years ago. “We are still players as they move around, knowing they will be seeing some hanging onto our 2005 success,” Sheridan says. “Our formula of them in the majors in the future.” has been to continue to give as much season ticket holder This is one of the more beautiful aspects about minor league value-added experiences, swag, renewal prizes, gifts and pric- sports. The entertainment can range from seeing who will be ing consideration as possible.” Sheridan’s comments express the next big star for fanatics, kids areas and on-field entertain- an ongoing theme of the ability of teams to create such an ment for the tots, and picnic areas in some venues for families atmosphere for their suite holders, club seat holders and gen- to more casually spend a night at the ball game. But Rose is eral season ticket holders that is one with a plethora of team also sure to point out that, of course, winning is nice too. “We involvement, return on investment and outright enjoyment. have been fortunate to have a record four International League One area where winning and losing plays much less of a role North Division Titles, and we won the Governor’s Cup in is in the minor leagues. Baseball and hockey both have strong 2008,” she remarks. “We certainly play to win.” representation in diverse markets across North America, and So there you have it. Winning is good, losing is bad and cus- because of the liquidity of player movement for these franchis- tomer service trumps all. The moral of the story ultimately rests es, fans have come to enjoy the games not for the devoted love with the ability of an organization and a venue to consistently of the team, but because the sport is enjoyable to watch, and create an experience at an event that is so memorable and the venues charge less money and provide more discounts and enjoyable that even when the inevitable losses begin to pile up, giveaways to make the entertainment value more festive. Again, the smiles on the faces of those in attendance last long after the this is not to say winning is irrelevant, but for teams like the final whistle blows. #CoMing Up neXt: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Triple-A Baseball), it playspReMiUM SeAt considerably less of a role. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre President, How does your team or venue achieve sales success despite a losing team record?SALeS AnD SeRViCe Kristen Rose, certainly sees things this way. “The consistency Write to Ryan at pRACtiCeS of the team is different from other sports,” says Rose. “The56 | S E A T | | #SEATSummer2011
  13. 13. Creating Premium SPonSorShiPengagement with teChnologyIt was not too long ago that sponsor presence in stadiums and arenas consisted primarily of small,now seemingly inconsequential signage, merely splashing logos around the venue. Not anymore.By Justin Wood, Vice President, Dimensional Innovations B rands today expect more for their investment and an Technology integrated into the built environment goes a opportunity to showcase their commitment to the long way towards meeting these challenging goals. In 17 years team and to the community. Interactive experiences of designing, branding and building these experiential spaces, are providing just that opportunity. By utilizing Dimensional Innovations has seen a tremendous shift to one technology to add sponsorship value and fan engagement, of interaction, as opposed to static branding. Especially in brand presence is greatly increasing. facilities where there is a large season ticket holder base, the In the past, the “make my logo bigger” strategy often led opportunity to use technology as a way to keep content fresh to an organization’s brand being completely lost in a sea of a and enticing is extraordinary. million other logos. In facilities where nearly every square-inch of real estate is a potential asset for the team or venue, there is DynamiC environmentS a real challenge for a brand to separate itself from the rest of In recent years, the term “dynamic environments” has been the visual noise that exists. Logos and static signage become used quite heavily. What it means in our world is that the built a textural background that, over time, is more difficult to get environment can change and can change easily and frequently. noticed. Fans are so oversaturated with the same old stimuli It also has the ability to respond to users. It simply turns that it simply gets blocked. architecture into a living organism that has the ability to tell an So where is a brand to go to gain the presence they are seek- ever-changing story. Dynamic environments are broken intoSponsorship zones, such as this ing for the dollars they are spending? How do they insure that several categories with varying levels of functionality and com-one at CONSOL Energy Center inPittsburgh, draw in users and their message does not become background noise? And how mitment. They each have their own characteristics, deliverablesspeak directly to them, providing can they make certain that their message can be constantly and and, of course, cost implications. Most dynamic experiencesa personal experience. affordably updated with relevant information? fall into three different categories: Autoactive, Interactive and Reactive. autoaCtive exPerienCeS The simplest and least complex of dynamic environments falls into the category of autoactive experiences. These experi- ences are characterized by simple digital content dominated by animated text and graphics. These are incredibly reliable in delivering targeted messaging for a brand, conveying informa- tion and invoking an emotional response from visitors. These can be readily delivered using very simple back-end systems and re-purposing existing brand content in new ways. This deployment method was used heavily at Sprint’s East Gate Sponsorship at Lucas Oil Stadium. With over 25 LCD monitors in the space, existing messaging for the Sprint brand, NASCAR Sprint Cup, the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts was easily deployed and constantly updated to keep things fresh. In combination with simple static graphics and a strong in-venue activation, this space has been a very effective way to convey a constantly changing brand message in a very cost efficient manner. interaCtive exPerienCeS Since the early 1980s, we have been bombarded with memo- rable experiences from technology like Pac Man and Space74 | S E A T | | #SEATSummer2011
  14. 14. Invaders. The nostalgia still compels us to engage in today’smodern games, such as the experiences we get from theNintendo Wii or the Xbox Kinect. These kinds of experiencesprovide real-time feedback in a game-like environment. Theyare frequently used as a way to provide fun and engagement,while often adding an educational component to the fun. At the Booth Hall of Athletics at the University of Kansas’Allen Fieldhouse, low tech and mid tech interactives were usedto tell some of the many stories of Kansas basketball. Interac-tives include, “On the Air with Max”, which features the gamehighlight calls of Max Falkenstein, the longtime voice of theJayhawks and “Think You Can Stop Me”, a reaction timegame, which utilizes modified basketballs to test your defensiveskills. The experiences provide a clear connection to the teamwhile allowing fans to have a great time, and more importantly,encourage fans to enter Allen Fieldhouse 20 minutes earlierthan they might have otherwise. The cost commitments herecan be relatively modest with the use of LCD monitors andself-contained CPUs with dedicated IP addresses that allow forwhat we call “plug and play architecture”. With a simple elec-trical connection, a wireless internet connection and, of course,the floor space, great, dynamic stories are told and created.reaCtive exPerienCeS In the most sophisticated of experiences, the digital mediais enabled to react directly with the surroundings in the venue.Through the use of cameras, sensors, etc., the reactive experi-ence gathers real-time information about the surroundings andreacts accordingly. This technology has the ability to draw inthe user and then hold them. If correctly done, the experi- Top: With over 25 LCD monitors and simple static graphics, the Sprint East Gate Sponsor-ence “speaks” directly to the user and makes for an incredibly ship at Lucas Oil Stadium is an effective way to convey a constantly changing brand message.personal experience. Bottom: The Booth Hall of Athletics at Allen Fieldhouse uses low tech and mid tech to One of the best examples of a reactive experience is the in- engage fans and tell the stories of University of Kansas basketball.stallation at CONSOL Energy Center for the Pittsburgh Pen-guins. The Penguins’ sponsorship activation with Highmark, #SEATSummer2011 | | S E A T | 75
  15. 15. a Pittsburgh-based Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliate, includes six different high tech interactives and four different low tech interactives, with the most unique being the “Put Your Game Face On” interactive. The augmented reality-based program allows a user to utilize the 52” touchscreens (magic mirror) to manipulate his or her image to include a new updated image, displaying anything from a favorite player’s bobblehead to the Stanley Cup beard of a favorite player. The screen shot is sent to a user’s smart phone, keeping the viral nature of this kind of interactive in full swing. It also provides the impetus for users to supply their personal information (email or phone number) to the sponsor to receive a worthy takeaway from engaging with the experience. Recently, the collegiate scene has begun to participate in the premium activations that can be delivered with these sorts of reactive experiences. At the University of Missouri’s MATC building, Mizzou Athletics has created an experience that acts as a recruiting experience, a donor experience, a current athlete experience as well as a game day fan experience. The interactive 4’ x 15’ touchscreen wall tells the story of all 21 Mizzou sports in an incredibly interactive experience. The reactive portion of this experience entails the use of infrared cameras in the ceiling that force the animated and rather intimidating Mizzou Tiger to engage each user very specifically as they engage the touchscreen wall. Mizzou Athletics’ willingness to undertake a project with such bleeding-edge technology made for an in- credibly exciting and fulfilling project. The potential for donors and sponsors to use this sort of experience to tell their stories is indescribable, and as this technology grows and becomes more and more affordable, we are going to see it being used for many different purposes and budgets. the Future What we see for the future of technology in sports venues is congruent with much of what you have already read in SEAT Magazine. Everything from in-suite ordering for food and beverage to interactive cameras like the Penguins’ YinzCam to enhance the fans’ views of the game will become more and more common. Branded experiences and sponsorship zones will continue to grow in interactivity in their nature as fans and users continue to expect more and more from their in-venue experience. # Would you like more information on the case studies included in this article? Write to Justin Wood at Top: Mizzou Athletics has created a reactive environment that acts as an athlete recruit- ing, donor and game day fan experience. Justin is the Vice President of Business Development for Dimensional Innovations, a Bottom: Interactives, such as “Think You Can Stop Me” in Allen Fieldhouse, provide Design- Build Experience firm based in Kansas City. real-time feedback in a game-like environment.76 | S E A T | | #SEATSummer2011