Last weekend I attended the Monster Jam show which got me thinking about fan experience and entertainment. How well do you entertain your fans? What other elements have you integrated into your pre-game, time out calls, half-time, and post-game elements of a game experience. Do people like what you’re doing? How do you know? Have you asked (surveyed) them?
Of course, the reason why fans attend sporting events is to see athletics competition (of course!), but that’s not all there is to it…people spend more time inside your venue not watching actual game play than they do actually watching athletes perform. Of course the athletes are visible for much of that down time, but those are valuable seconds you could be using to entertain your fans.
I have heard several folks and read several blogs by NBA teams that say their entertainment goal is to want to make their game presentation so exciting, that no one in the building would even think about picking up their smart phone because it would be too distracting. You’ve got fans in your building who have paid money to experience something bigger than themselves and who want to be entertained, so that should be your goal. One way to begin, do a SWOT analysis based on the five senses. Many (if not most) retail companies incorporate these elements and I think sports venues can do the same.
Monster Jam does this extremely well. They’ve got non-stop action from the time you walk in the front gates until you get to your car after the show. Now, I’ve enjoyed monster truck shows since I was a kid and having grown up in Las Vegas, (where we got to see the World Championships almost every year!) I have a pretty good idea of what entertainment looks like. Here is how I perceived Monster Jam as incorporating all of the senses:
Sight – Monster trucks, jumps, smashed cars, the car crushing Monster T-Rex, and aside from the main show, intermission type quad and motorcycle races on the track featuring competition between local and national racers
Sound – Trucks revving at such high RPMs and at such high decibels that most people wear ear plugs or professional grade sound protection (especially small children)
Smell – Freshly groomed dirt; Monster truck exhaust fumes that are quite pungent and unforgettably unique to such large engines, in addition to concession stand food smells
Touch – Usually some sort of pick-up truck collection out on the plaza outside the main entrances for fans to sit inside, touch, smell, etc. (usually sponsored by one of the large automobile manufacturers)
Taste – Concession items with the normal fare that people expect which also includes themed micro-stands that sell “monster” size popcorn or “balloon tire” sized cotton candy (great case study on branding could be done on Monster Jam)
My challenge to sport entertainment specialists, marketers, and sales people would be to consider how the five senses are already incorporated into what you are currently doing and make improvements where applicable. When creating ads, building a website, and talking to customers, how are you portraying what it’s like to be in your stadium or arena? As sport organizations, our biggest competition is a fan’s living room. It costs less to stay at home to watch on TV, eat your own food, and drink your own drinks, so our challenge is to be so compelling that no matter how our teams perform, fans know they are getting a good value for their money. The lesson to take away from Monster Jam is to incorporate the five senses and use those connections to build relationships with fans.
My next post will be on creating good content, which ties into this post very closely, so stay tuned on that front!