3 Reasons Why Improving the Fan Experience Will Drive Revenue

Times have changed, and sports has changed with it. With the inflow of new technologies every year and the many alternatives to experiencing games in-stadium, sports teams have found themselves in a constant race; desperately trying to improve attendance by pushing the limits of experiential marketing and fan engagement in your venue.

With so many different channels, technologies, strategies, etc., why is fan engagement the most important? How can it produce a significant return on investment for your team?

3 Simple Facts:

1. Happy fans come back

2. Happy fans tell their friends

3. Sponsors want in on the fun and they’re willing to pay for it

1) Fans are more likely to come back to your games if they enjoy their experience

We all know the power of negative experiences and poor first impressions. If a fan associates a negative experience with your stadium, you’ve potentially lost them forever. According to Esteban Kolsky, vendor consigliere, “if customers are not satisfied, 13% of them will tell 15 or more people that they are unhappy. 67% of them mention bad experiences as a reason for churn, but only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers [actually] complain.” The rest? “They just leave,” Kolsky claims.  

Biggest takeaway? It’s crucial to focus on creating positive experiences for fans in order to avoid negative word-of-mouth exposure!

2) Happy fans are more likely to tell their friends about their experience

On the contrary, the impact of positive associations can be just as strong. “72% of customers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people,” Kolsky states. In other words, positive sentiments also spread fast. If one fan leaves genuinely happy and amazed by his/her experience during your game, it could mean you’ve got six more people hearing about it & wanting to become a part of that experience.

“72% of customers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people”

– Esteban Kolsky, Founder, ThinkJar LLC

Based off a research study conducted by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, “67% of people spend money after getting recommendations from their friends on online communities, [such as] Facebook and Twitter.” Therefore, shareability is your key, and profitability is what’s behind the door.

What it boils down to is social contribution. Fans want something they can tell their friends and family about; a reason to drag their friends to the next game. They want to feel a part of something different, personal and special.

3) Sponsors want to be associated with amazing experiences and will pay for it

Fans aren’t the only ones that care about remarkable experiences. Sponsors also place a high importance on being associated with unforgettable moments; and as a result, will pay huge bucks for it.

“We want to enable and create priceless experiences,”

– Raja Rajamannar, CMO, MasterCard

In past campaigns, MasterCard did not hold back in showing its commitment to being a part of “priceless” moments. In the YouTube video below, MasterCard partnered with the Toronto Maple Leaves to give some unsuspecting fans an unforgettable surprise:

So how can your sports property leverage priceless moments for your sponsors?

As of 2016, sponsorship spending on festivals and venues reached a total of $1.47 billion dollars. Most of which went to experiential marketing such as interactive installations, VR and live-streaming. Brands are starting to see the value in exceeding fans’ expectations by giving them access to the newest technology and exclusive experiences. In doing so, they are effectively associating their brand image with the priceless moments fans chase after.

Teams that are getting fan engagement right

The Dallas Mavericks and the Sacramento Kings are two examples of teams that haven’t had the strongest on-court performance, but have done an amazing job getting fans to come to their games.

The Mavericks are ranked 2nd in Home Game Attendance % but 24th in Away Game Attendance %. Likewise, the Kings are ranked 3rd in Home Game Attendance % but 26th in Away Game Attendance %. Despite their low rankings, these teams have gone beyond in giving their fans an unparalleled stadium experience; for example employing “360° immersive mobile experiences” and enhancing connection to support “500,000 Snapchats per second.”

The point is, your fans are at the core of every revenue stream and they need to be treated accordingly. Dewayne Hankins and the Trail Blazers marketing team live and breath this philosophy; constantly innovating, and finding new ways to improve their fans’ in-stadium experience. Take this year’s playoffs as an example – where they created an experience their fans loved and shared with over 100,000 other potential fans outside the arena!

So if you take anything away from this article, remember just 3 simple facts about why improving the fan experience can generate revenue:

1. Happy fans come back

2. Happy fans tell their friends

3. Sponsors want in on the fun and they’re willing to pay for it