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One-on-one: Mike Gomes, Senior Vice President of Fan Experience at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Stadia Magazine

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Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Photo Source: Stadia Magazine

When Mercedes-Benz Stadium became the new home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and MLS side Atlanta United in 2017, not only did it showcase a ground-breaking design, it also introduced a novel food and beverage initiative to raise fan satisfaction.

In 2017 Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS) in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, became the new home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and MLS side Atlanta United. Not only did the US$1.6bn stadium showcase ground-breaking design such as its retractable roof, but a novel food and beverage initiative was introduced in an effort to raise fan satisfaction.

Fan First pricing saw the cost of favorite items slashed by 50%, yet despite lowering prices the MBS witnessed average fan spend and consumption both increase and its F&B ranking from fans raise from 18th in 2016 to first in 2017. Behind the new fan fare, Mike Gomes, senior vice president of fan experience at Mercedes-Benz stadium, spoke to Stadia about how the F&B offering went down.

Tell us how the Fan First program originated … 
If you look at fan feedback from research you notice that food and beverage is one of the most important factors [on game day], however we noticed the industry as a whole doesn’t perform well in terms of value, while quality and variety also isn’t great, plus fans are having to wait too long in line. This was the genesis of how we looked at food and beverage differently.

Before we ever broke ground on the new stadium we knew we wanted to introduce this. Owner and chairman Arthur Blank said, “We’re going to lower food so it’s fair for fans and family”.

So, in May 2016 we announced Fan First pricing where fan favorite food items would be sold at different prices: US$2 for hotdogs, pretzels, fries, and pizza, a US$2 refillable soda – more than a 50% decrease in prices from the Georgia Dome and more than 50% less than other stadiums charge.

How did the fans react? 
We’re seeing a much higher consumption model. By the end of the first quarter of an NFL game we’re seeing as much consumption as we used to see in a total game at the Georgia Dome. That’s approximately 140,000 units of food and beverage. Fans are buying more.

Whereas before fans would have to choose between this or that, now they can [buy] this and that. At the end of our first NFL and soccer season [at the stadium] we are number one in the league in all of the important metrics: food and beverage, quality, variety, speed of service, and value – so the fans have reacted very positively.

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The House of Green Goes Green

London Knights

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On Saturday, February 10th the Spectra Venue Management team at Budweiser Gardens will launch its first ‘Green’ event when the London Knights face off against the Sudbury Wolves.  “Over the last year, there has been a conscious effort by our team at Budweiser Gardens to evaluate our practices and procedures and look for ways that we can implement environmentally responsible practices.” Said Brian Ohl, General Manager of Budweiser Gardens. “This game will give us a great opportunity to share with the community some of the significant work that has been done and it is our hope that this will become an annual game while also adding additional Green events where possible.”

Spectra Venue Management has teamed up with the London Transit Commission to offer fans coming to the game the opportunity to ride on LTC busses for FREE beginning at 5pm and running through the end of service. Each fan will need to present a valid ticket for that night’s game to gain entry onto the bus. “We are grateful that the LTC has stepped up to work with us on this great initiative and provide the 9.000 plus fans coming for the game the opportunity to ride free of charge and reduce carbon emissions” said Ohl.

Each save that the Knight’s goaltender makes during the game will count beyond just the scoreboard as Spectra and ReForest London will launch the ‘Saves for Trees’ program at the game. For every save that a Knight’s goalie makes during the game a tree will be planted as part of the Million Tree Challenge, a community-wide project with the focus of planting one million more trees for environmental and human health in London, ON. Downtown London, the official game sponsor, has also agreed to match the total and will plant an equal number of trees. Fans at the game are also encouraged to join the Saves for Trees program by sponsoring a tree for $25.00.

The City of London will also be present at the game to promote several initiatives including London’s Clean & Green program which takes place on Earth Day, April 22nd. “The support that we have received from Jay Stanford and his team at the City of London has been tremendous and we look forward to continuing to work with them on many future projects,” said Ohl.

Read the full story.

Guest Blog | Calling All Brand Managers: New Year, New Sponsorship Opportunities

Guest blog post by Brett Blumberg
Sales and Sustainability Manager at Kilowatt Events, Inc.

Photo Source: Pexels

Photo Source: Pexels

As much as sustainability professionals would love to expect all events and their sponsors, talent, fans, and other stakeholders to demand socially and environmentally responsible productions (and reap the many cost savings and business advantages of doing so), events run on tight budgets and money unfortunately does not grow on native, drought-tolerant, certified organic trees.

This presents two options to event owners for funding a sustainable production if the internal desire or external pressures exist: self-funding, or third-party funding from grants, rebates, miscellaneous donations, or sponsorships from organizations like yours. While many event organizers understand the importance of self-funding, many others require these strategic partnerships to bring their visions to life. However, you may not realize just how beneficial a sustainability sponsorship could be for your brand when you help the event to support local community needs, satisfy stakeholder interests and, perhaps even more significant to your immediate goals, showcase these efforts in front of your target market.

More Opportunities Than Ever.

Luckily, we live in an age with seemingly unlimited opportunities for face-to-face consumer engagement at large events. According to a 2016 study by the U.S. Census Bureau, live events hosted in temporary facilities or permanent venues not owned by the event (think music festivals, traveling sporting events, art shows, heritage festivals, etc.) nearly doubled their annual U.S. revenue from $4.23 billion in 2002 to $8.4 billion in 2012 (Encyclopedia of American Industries, 2017). This means there have been and will be more events, more attendees, and more opportunities to promote your company year after year.

Selecting Events to Sponsor Can be Challenging. Here’s a Tip. 

With so many events to choose from, it may feel overwhelming to select the one with the greatest return on investment. During your team’s periodic marketing meetings to establish resource allocation for promotional opportunities, you will surely consider which events align with your target market, long-term marketing objectives, and overall brand imaging.

Consider taking it one step further by understanding your company’s vision and social values. Can any of your social objectives or initiatives be integrated into event operations? Perhaps you have recently created a new marketing campaign that ties together your product’s functionality with its eco-friendly supply chain, aligning it with the event’s sustainable sourcing policy. Maybe your brand has partnered with a non-profit to help provide job training for an underrepresented demographic, and the event you may want to sponsor is also committed to hiring staff from disadvantaged communities. Why not “double-dip” on a sponsorship to cross-promote your products and services alongside your community benefits?

Yes, there seem to be many events from which to choose, but by being selective and understanding how the event culture, legacy, and deeper-rooted purpose can be connected to those of your organization, your best choices will become clear.

Read the full story on LinkedIn.

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