Month: January 2018

Introducing……FANS HQ


After numerous requests from colleagues across the sporting globe to provide some kind of weekly or monthly summary of educational insights from the world of fan engagement I’ve decided to put together a monthly recap in the form of this FANS HQ journal/magazine which I hope colleagues and those interested in this space will find useful as a resource.

The fun monthly fan engagement journal will showcase and look at some of the key exciting and innovative developments in the world of fan engagement and fan experience from the sports business in both Australia and abroad.

FANS HQ will also touch on sports merchandising, the wackier side of fan engagement and other areas of the business to include interviews with professionals in this space, venue updates, new technologies plus a variety of fan zone pictorial recaps from across my travels.

Fans HQ is designed to be a fun, educational and insightful resource for those interested in the fan engagement/experience space.

I hope you enjoy the monthly musings and recaps from this very entertaining industry.

I also hope to continue to improve the offering here over the course of its journey so if you have any constructive advice or feedback please let me know how I can improve this over time.

Thanks and please enjoy edition one for January 2018 here.



Big Bash, Big Fun at Melbourne Stars BBL

Big Bash, Big Fun at Melbourne Stars BBL

The following article appeared in Digital Sports Labs and can be found in full here.

There’s an entertainment extravaganza taking place in the fan zone outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground as the Big Bash League’s Melbourne Stars play host to the Sydney Thunder on a hot and humid night in Melbourne.

At first glance, it appears the Melbourne Stars team have thought of all the standard game day fan engagement touches that we’ve come to see around our Australian venues, but have then added a few surprisingly creative additions that represented an added highlight for kids and families.

Having taken the tram today, it was good to instantly view prominent way-finding signs directing fans to transport and stadium access points while the atmosphere and vibrancy was loud and vocal on the approach to the fan zone.

Before the game, fans were able to create and customise their own ‘Starmoji’ character on the Stars’ website which was a hit with the kids (and this writer’s fiancé!) as well as download their augmented reality app to scan AR markers on murals around the venue.

Melbourne Stars' StarMoji

This was a clever activity for families to partake in as the AR app enabled fans to collect the full series of markers thus creating a type of scavenger hunt around the venue and making blank concrete spaces come alive. It’s going to be very interesting to watch the AR space develop as venues and teams turn previously unused stadium spaces into new and exciting opportunities for fans to engage with.

The crowd is pumping outside the ground an hour before the first ball with a colourful song and dance area, colouring-in stations and face painting all providing a plethora of activities and ways to pass the time before heading into the ground. An impressive feature outside gate 4 was also the ‘first timer’s’ stand where fans could pick up a scorecard showing how cricket works and other game day information.

‘First Timer’s’ stand at Melbourne Stars BBL game

The kids zone seemed endless with both a Nickelodeon site on the Yarra Park side of the G while another area with inflatables, slides and kids activities featured on the other side of the ground that kept families entertained while the ground stickers featuring team member names of both the WBBL and BBL players scattered around the stadium added more colour and design to spaces rarely used on game days.

Photo opportunities seemed endless with a variety of options such as a size me up stand, a chance for fans to have flames appear in their pic with the stadium background and a hashtag ‘S_ARS’ team green cut out where fans were able to use their arms to make the ‘T’ for the photo. A further walk around the MCG saw skills drills stations with bowling and batting practice and the addition of a bubble machine.

4 and 6 signs at Melbourne Stars BBL game

Upon entering the MCG all fans were able to grab a few freebies like ‘boom boom’ inflatable sticks, a pair of Stars butterfly wings as well as 4, 6 and dot ball cards (a clever idea for when the team is fielding) which were keeping families and kids smiling ear to ear.

The quality event presentation aside, the game day production and screen content inside the G was an eye catcher as the hype reel countdown, oblivious cam and the inclusive way that they had a person doing sign language on the screens for the game day announcer were all very impressive to witness throughout the match. A dance crew roamed the outside of the boundary rope jumping up to perform after every big moment while the pyrotechnics lit up the crowd, especially those in the unique party deck seating in Bay 13.

View image on Twitter

The fast-paced fan engagement ripped through three sponsor’s activities in about 15 minutes with a dash for cash and crowd chant ‘noise off’ getting many laughs however the t-shirt gun operator might need some more training based on the fact one tee was fired into an empty stand and another hit sponsor signage before plummeting to the stand below, however, both shots still generated good-natured laughs from the crowd.

While every major venue across the globe are working on ways to get fans into venues earlier with creative incentives that drive further revenue and more eyeball time on sponsors there can be no denying that the BBL and BBL teams like the Stars go above and beyond to create impressive action-packed fan zones that offer quality and quantity in terms of fan engagement activations. This emphasis on variety actively encourages more families to attend well in advance of the match start time simply due to the overwhelming array of fun to be had pre-game.

A spectacular set up from the Stars that focuses on the little things fans want, a dash of technology and then some added surprises to light up the game day adventure.

Cricket Australia debuts The Lawn deck fan experience

Cricket Australia debuts The Lawn deck fan experience

The following article was written for Digital Sports Labs and can be found in full here.

The Lawn was a truly memorable fan experience and spectacularly well-presented entertainment space from Cricket Australia, TLA Australia and the MCG that will no doubt continue to provide fans with a chilled and relaxed vibe to take in the cricket while also seeing brands falling over themselves to sponsor this next summer.

Global venues and sporting organisations are continuing to ramp up their efforts to enhance the game day fan experience and acquire new fans by providing unique, innovative and creative experiences that offer a much more memorable and enjoyable game day experience than what sports fans have had to deal with in the past.

New developments are constantly being rolled out by venues whether it be from providing gourmet local food and beverage options, gender neutral toilets or way-finding to adding inclusive nursing or sensory rooms and using technology such as chat-bots and geo-fencing in an effort to provide fans with access to important messages and promotions. Make no mistake, while it’s important to remember the match in the middle comes first and foremost, every major global venue is in an arms race to get more bums on seats through providing new money can’t buy experiences.

However, a trending area in the fan experience space from venues has been to develop fun and unique social spaces that offer fans unique seating and viewing options. In recent times this has included Jacksonville’s EverBank Field and Brisbane’s The Gabba roll out impressive pool decks, Sydney’s SCG adding a beach while Yankee Stadium created the ‘Judge’s Chambers’ and GMHBA Stadium and the Geelong Cats introduced their immersive fan portal room with retractable floor overlooking the team warm-up area that allows fans to feel the intensity as the team warms up before a match.

Cricket Australia is another such organization who are pushing the boundaries in this area with their new social entertainment experience The Lawn debuting on Sunday at the MCG for the first One Day International match. The Lawn was designed to reset the perceptions of a typical day at the cricket with the space being billed as providing a tailored food and beverage menu, comfortable seating options and a stunning view of the field.

I went along on Sunday to check out the launch of the TLA Australia created The Lawn and was impressed and overwhelmed by the beautifully designed exclusive deck area and outstanding attention to detail.

The Lawn experience started with lucky fans being granted a fancy invite to a ‘summer garden party’ themed event with registration taking place outside the MCG in a marquee featuring well-presented staff. Immediately after collecting an envelope with tickets and a $10 drinks voucher there was helpful staff holding ‘This Way To The Lawn’ signs all the way to Gate 6, upon entering the stadium and then at the entrance to The Lawn at Bay 11-13 which made it very easy to find the exclusive area.

This way to The Lawn

The first impression upon walking into The Lawn was that every little touch had been taken care of. The cool summer vibe décor and seating options ranged from sun beds and couches to tables and chairs while the colourful flower backdrop and astroturfed floor made the tiered deck come alive with vibrant colour and a party atmosphere overlooking the best view in the stadium.

Quality Australian wines and beers were part of the bar service while switched on staff supplied an endless array of gourmet food over the course of the day which included a delicious and diverse menu of cucumber sandwiches, sliders, beef croquettes, vegan salads and fish and chips. Each table also included a container of lollies and it was nice to see random strangers interacting with each other and making new friends while passing around these sweets over the course of the day.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
 The Lawn also featured a roving Polaroid camera photographer, an Instagram filter, photo opportunities with a cricket big bat as well as social games for people to play like Jenga all while still watching the cricket.  The little touches were evident from the funky straws, re-usable cups and free visors being handed out to the coasters, large umbrellas and hosts who were going out of their way to ensure fans were getting the most out of the experience. Furthermore, as the sun went down, blankets were even brought out for those starting to feel the cold while staff came around again with ice creams.

The Lawn was a truly memorable fan experience and spectacularly well-presented entertainment space from Cricket Australia, TLA Australia and the MCG that will no doubt continue to provide fans with a chilled and relaxed vibe to take in the cricket while also seeing brands falling over themselves to sponsor this next summer.

Sport Techie Articles #12: Cricket Comes Alive In Palm Of Your Hand With Melbourne Renegades AR

MELBOURNE, Australia — Augmented reality is an area that is showing a lot of traction for teams and venues to showcase their creativity and innovation.

The NBA has an AR game where fans can overlay a basketball court and shoot some hoops anywhere in the world. Teams and venues down in Australia have also been busy with the Brisbane Heat leading the way with their AR app that enables fans to bring trading cards and match tickets to life while the Sydney Cricket Ground recently debuted an activation where fans can recreate his famous final ball century in augmented reality.

To read more of this article head over to Sport Techie here….

Sport Techie Articles #11: Siri, Tell Me Some Australian Open Tennis Information

Smart home devices and artificial intelligent voice activation area areas that show a lot of potential in the sports industry as a way for fans to get closer to teams and leagues that look to drive new revenue opportunities in ticketing and merchandise.

With the 2018 Australian Open tennis competition having started in Melbourne and the PGA Tour also underway, both tennis and golf fans are able to have access to live and past tournament results, individual player stats and performance data from past tournaments by simply asking Apple’s Siri for updates.

For instance with tennis, the ATP and WTA are supported for Siri, meaning that fans are able to access information on the 2016-2018 Grand Slams whereas the PGA and LPGA are also supported with all historical facts for Grand Slams from 2007 to the present as well as tournament information for 2017 and 2018.

To read the full report please head over to Sport Techie here….


Sport Techie Articles #10: Cricket Australia MatchDay App Enhances The Fan Experience

Attending any big sporting match these days in our tech- and experience-driven world offers fans the chance to partake in a multitude of fan engagement activities, with many starting the moment they approach the fan zone. It has also becoming increasingly important for fans to be able to engage with the team and venue prior to attending so that they can plan out their day.

While venues, teams, leagues and sponsors all work in tandem to communicate the game day plan via eDM newsletters, social media and advertising to get fans into the venue and fan space as early as possible and make them aware of what’s on at the game, how many families and fans attending these matches are actually fully aware of all of the fun things that they can participate in on the day?

Cricket Australia may have found a solution to this issue, as it recently debuted its new Matchday App which provides fans with access to a smorgasbord of valuable information to enhance the at-match experience during the Ashes series and other international fixtures over the course of summer in Australia.

If you would like to read more about this please click here….

Sport Techie Articles #9: Big Bash League Melbourne Stars Launch Youth Digital Platform

The Australian Big Bash League has continued to push the boundaries of innovative fan engagement with the Melbourne Stars announcing the launch of their new digital platform to engage young fans over the upcoming seventh season of the BBL.

As a result of introducing a fast-paced game day featuring non-stop entertainment, sports tech innovations like light up flashing wickets, international star players decked out in brightly-colored uniforms and cheap tickets to attract families, the BBL has broken attendance records and grown its female fan base to rapidly become a roaring success that has attracted global interest within the sports business.

One of eight BBL teams, the Melbourne Stars partnered with digital firm Eastwood to develop the Stars Squad platform, which sees the team now hosting one of the most engaging youth-focused digital experiences in Australian sport.

If you would like to read more about this please click here

Sport Techie Articles #8: How Sports And Sleep Science Helped Australia Reach FIFA World Cup

Advancements in technology are transforming the sports science space for professional athletes and their coaches, who are utilizing groundbreaking new methods to ensure their players get an extra 1-2% edge over the competition.

From eye-tracking technology that aims to boost performance in critical situations, sleep science programs to improve recovery and virtual reality technology that can help injured players return to peak performance, there is an explosion of new technology that is enabling sports scientists and coaches to get more effective results out of their players and in turn deliver more successful outcomes.

The Australian national football team (The Socceroos) under the guidance of experienced sport scientist Dr. Craig Duncan is no exception here and has utilized an array of innovative sports science technology in an effort to secure a spot at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

If you would like to read more about this please click here….

Sport Techie Articles #7: Accenture Provides Qantas Wallabies With Game-Changing Performance Stats

The Australian Rugby Union has partnered with digital consulting firm Accenture to deliver an innovative statistics platform which aims to improve the way the national team, the Qantas Wallabies, perform both on and off the field.

The new analytics tool built in conjunction with Accenture aims to provide the Wallabies with a digital edge by introducing a comprehensive 360-degree analysis of over 9,000 data points for more than 10,000 rugby union players across Australia. The new initiative has also been established to drive greater insights into player performance stats while ensuring Australian rugby is at the top of its game in both match performances and technology.

If you would like to read more about this please click here

Sport Techie Articles #6: Australian Kangaroos Launch Chatbot At Rugby League World Cup

SYDNEY — The 2017 Rugby League World Cup has kicked off across Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea with passionate crowds, large broadcast, digital and social numbers all coming through within the opening round of matches. The showpiece tournament featuring 14 nations has also seen the addition of many fan engagement delights both online and at the venues from fan MVP voting and free digital streaming to traditional dancing and culinary food and beverage offerings inside the venues which has added a diverse mix of color and noise to the fan experience.

If you would like to read more click here….

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