fanengagement

Brisbane Broncos Vs Gold Coast Titans NRL Fan Experience, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Queensland 27/06/20

Here’s a snapshot documenting the fan journey tonight heading back to the Brisbane Broncos game days at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia on Saturday night.

10,000 fans were allowed back on the night for the NRL game.

Train to the game. Chelmer station to Milton station. Free transport still on offer for fans here heading the game.

Note the clear communications around ticket conditions for the COVID19 plan on this game day.

The march to the stadium from the station. Not as vocal as usual but grateful and lucky to be back here.

Ticketing. Paper PDFs or mobile ticketing only. Gates open only from 45 minutes before kick off.

F&B. Cashless/card only. Line markings. Social distancing maintained and respected by fans. Speed was fast to be served. Staff friendly and good on them for being back too. They need this for jobs as well.

Seating. Strictly only allowed to use the 2 seats you were able to purchase and must keep 1.5m away from each other. Must remain within the zone allocated on your ticket.

Hand sanitizer stations abundant throughout the venue.

Well done to all of the staff from the Broncos membership team to the venue staff and everyone else in between who put this on for fans with only a few day’s notice. Huge respect for that team work.

Cowboys New Home Musters Community Excitement in North Queensland

Cowboys New Home Musters Community Excitement in North Queensland

 

It’s the dawn of a new era and the atmosphere is buzzing in Townsville as the NRL’s North Queensland Cowboys and local region hosts the inaugural sporting event at Australia’s newest major venue, Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

 

Built by North Queenslanders for North Queenslanders in a home-grown effort involving the Queensland and Australian Government’s, Townsville City Council and close to 500 local businesses, the $290M world-class facility represents a proud moment for the city. Having experienced rough times in recent years, the new stadium acts as a catalyst for economic rejuvenation and urban regeneration and from experiencing this first hand it is clearly revitalising the local community and surrounding regions.

 

Standing on the Wulgurukaba traditional owners land in the heart of the Townsville CBD, here is my latest review where I highlight the impressive features of Queensland Country Bank Stadium and the Cowboys game day fan experience on what was a rollercoaster ride day for the nation and sports fans alike due to the unprecedented Coronavirus concerns that very nearly saw this opening event called off.

 

Fan Engagement:

Arriving early at the venue on a scorching hot Friday afternoon to do a pre-game walk around, it was clear from first impressions that the venue exudes a uniquely North Queensland identity which has been designed with the fan experience at the forefront.

The North Queensland Cowboys fan first approach starts well before the match as I joined hundreds of fans in the first ever ‘Cowboys Stampede’ march to the stadium from the Cowboys Leagues club which was an exciting experience on the night and a tradition that looks set to continue on game days into the future.

 

The pre-game fan engagement continues outside the ground as fans can experience the ‘Captain’s Walk’ where names of Cowboys legends and supporters are etched into pavers while fans were also instantly captivated by the chance to get photos with the life-size bronze statue of Cowboys legend Johnathan Thurston that was designed by local artist Jane Hawkins to honour his contribution to North Queensland sport.

 

Impressive screen content, engaging performances and promotions and at last count seven mascots kept fans entertained all night long inside while outside fans of all ages enjoyed a dedicated fan engagement zone as well as receiving a free Cowboys flag on entry to commemorative the opening game here.

 

Transport:

 

Transport was a seamless experience from the CBD with free game day express event buses organized to transport fans around while multiple park and ride or walk options made it simple for those fans wishing to park the car nearby and access the venue with free parking also available after 2pm in the CBD. Ride share and taxi zones as well as accessible pick up and drop off areas ensured every patron can easily access the venue however with the stadium centrally located in the heart of the city, walking was also seen by the majority of fans to be the easiest way to get to and from the stadium.

 

Architecture:

 

Designed by Cox Architecture and constructed by WATPAC on the banks of Townsville’s Ross River, the centrally located stadium was delivered on schedule and to budget and has a host of smart architectural features that add to its iconic North Queensland design.

 

A horseshoe shaped cantilever roof with plates inspired by the native tropical Pandanus plant forms the centerpiece of the stadium design and makes the venue instantly recognizable to global audiences. This unique design also provides the strength to resist North Queensland’s cyclonic winds as well as allowing the roof to expand and contract to the city’s tropical temperatures.

 

Green spaces are abundant with over 100 trees and 30,000 plants spread throughout the venue while a lush grassed parkland and plaza at the northern end of the venue provided a family friendly atmosphere for fans to meet and mingle in before entering the venue.

 

The stadium has also been specifically positioned to face north in order to catch the breezes while it’s spacious open design showcases the stunning panoramic views of the city and Castle Hill which now instantly makes it one of the most picturesque stadiums in Australia to visit.

 

Technology:

 

Audio-visual capabilities are state of the art and delivered an immersive experience through a lighting set up which made the field vibrantly pop with colour while the sound system pumped out team announcements, music and a hype reel countdown in clear and crisp audio.

 

An imposing 200sqm HD scoreboard at the northern end is strategically positioned to be viewed by all spectators while the multicoloured LED lights incorporated into both the roof and translucent kites showcased an exciting and memorable pre-game light show with Cowboys themed lighting displays switching between strobe, flash and still which amplified the crowd atmosphere.

 

The free QCB Stadium and Cowboys app’s both provided an informative and effective user experience that highlighted important game day information for fans such as F&B offerings, news, transport guidance, seating maps, the ability to purchase tickets and merchandise, accessibility information as well as the ability to connect to the venues WiFi which was fast and reliable when speed tested throughout various moments of the game day.

 

Seating:

 

There is not a bad view in the house with 25,000 Cowboys coloured seats highlighting a contemporary stadium design that puts every fan within close proximity to the lush field to ensure an edge of your seat pulsating experience.

 

The configuration of the stadium sees four primary seating areas with roof shades covering 75% of the ground while a unique part of the design in the northern end features open standing areas where fans can enjoy breathtaking sightlines of the try line in a relaxed and informal setting next to bars and food outlets. Cup holders also compliment seating in the western grandstand while multiple disability seating options and family rooms with showers and change tables all highlight what an inclusive, comfortable and accessible venue this is.

 

F&B:

 

An extensive selection of food and beverage choices are available to suit all tastes with Pandanus Catering putting a key focus on ensuring the majority of produce is locally sourced from the North Queensland region to ensure a truly home grown experience.

 

Gourmet, value and variety are at the core of an inclusive foodie fan experience here with affordable options ranging from 12” ‘Cowboys’ hot dogs, local reef fish and Red Rooster chicken to ‘Stockman’s’ tropical burgers, vegetarian burritos and vegan pies all available throughout the venues 29 F&B concession stands ensuring fans never have to go far to grab some quality game day grub.

 

Uniquely themed public bars such as the Castle Hill Bar, Long Bar and City View Bar are scattered throughout the venue offering fan favourites XXXX and Bundaberg Rum and are complimented by outstanding views of the field and local attractions. Meanwhile, Cowboys members can even enjoy their very own ‘Cowboys Castle’ craft beer from local microbrewery Tiny Mountain Brewing Co that is available in their exclusive ‘Cowboys Castle’ members bar on game days. Fans will also appreciate the ability to walk around the entire 9m wide, 600m circumference of the stadium concourse to check out the full F&B range and take in spectacular views of the field of play from different vantage points.

 

 

Hospitality:

 

Located in the western grandstand, the stadium includes a diverse range of exciting hospitality experiences to suit every budget from premium offerings such as the elegantly decked out Chairman’s Club ‘Shorty’s’ with it’s unrivaled guest service and delicious delicacies to the relaxed and vibrant Sky Deck on level 4 that features breathtaking panoramic views of the pitch and city for those instant shareable social media moments. The impressive club lounge and ground level field club along with the 88 external boxes and 17 suites highlights a first class hospitality experience that is sure to be very popular on game days for those guests looking to network and enjoy premium F&B and live entertainment in comfortable surroundings.

 

Conclusion

 

While the opening match may have started with a tough 28-21 loss at the hands of state rivals Brisbane, it was a spectacular win for both North Queensland Cowboys fans who will continue to experience exciting game days here as well as the local region who will benefit from the positive economic and social outcomes that transpire from this marvelous new venue in tropical Townsville.

 

BIO:

 

Blair Hughes is an award winning, globally respected fan engagement specialist who helps clients in the sports, music and craft beer industries grow their fan bases, improve fan experiences and create new business and revenue opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter at @MrBlairHughes or at www.MrBlairHughes.com.

150+ Fan Engagement Ideas For Craft Breweries: Solutions To Entertain And Educate, Drive Revenue And Connect Beer Fans And Local Communities During COVID19

106 days into 2020 and what an unimaginable and absolutely crazy year it has been within the Australian craft beer industry this year. 

First the devastation of the summer bush fires and now the way the world has been flipped on its head by COVID19. It’s been an incredibly tough time for many Australian’s and small businesses out there but as I work within this industry I’ve also seen first hand how stressful, challenging and frustrating it has been for independent craft breweries (and all the associated people along the supply chain) throughout Australia.

However if it’s one thing that this industry and community of good beer fans do well, it’s pulling together and working together to support each other. From the relentless back-breaking work that organizations like the IBA, Oz Brews News, Froth Mag and Crafty Pint do for this industry to all the craft beer fans out there who have all gone to great lengths over the past few months to buy local and get behind their community craft breweries, well it’s just so bloody lovely to see. What an outstanding community of people! It just makes you feel so damn proud of how Australian’s come together to support each other in times of crisis. 

Anyway, seeing as I have lost work like many others within the industry and because I now have some extra time on my hands and just can’t sit still, I have put together another handy infographic of fan engagement ideas that will come in useful to a host of businesses, breweries, and venues within our industry. 

Featured below is a new fan engagement infographic that has been created from collating ideas and initiatives from what over 300 Australian craft breweries have been doing to engage their fans and local communities. I have also included all of the ideas within a bullet point list with images added below as well as including some of my own ideas. If an idea does not make sense then please feel free to reach out and I will assist. 

Earlier this week I also released an infographic for the sports business titled 200+ Fan Engagement Ideas to Entertain, Educate and Connect Sports Fans during COVID19 which aims to help local grassroots and community clubs throughout the globe with ideas to engage their communities at this time. Previously I have created these resources below as well. These have been useful for the sports business but many of the ideas are interchangeable, cost-effective and simple and have also helped small businesses with the ideas presented here being quite adaptable to many businesses.

I have also previously created this resource ‘100+ Fan Engagement Ideas For Craft Breweries’ which has been a simple and effective guide for craft breweries across Australia and may come in handy down the track for other breweries to acquire new fans and drive further revenue opportunities.

If IBA members also have access to the new IBA forum and website sections then my fan engagement presentation and panel from last year’s BREWCON conference might also be a beneficial watch.

All in all this has just been something to do to stay active during this time so I hope that it comes in handy for anyone within the independent craft beer industry. 

My final piece of advice is to get out there and support your local indie brewery and buy local from local indie bottle shops and venues doing take aways where you can as this will help these businesses at a time when they all need it the most. 

Thanks for reading. 

150+ FAN ENGAGEMENT IDEAS FOR CRAFT BREWERIES: SOLUTIONS TO ENTERTAIN AND EDUCATE, DRIVE REVENUE AND CONNECT BEER FANS AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES DURING COVID19

150+ Fan Engagement Ideas For Craft Breweries: Solutions To Entertain And Educate, Drive Revenue And Connect Beer Fans And Local Communities During COVID19

  • Bottle shop/venue and staff shout outs to promote local indie stockists
  • Trivia
  • Merch incentives/giveaways (even just free stickers) with minimum spend beer orders
  • Online happy hour
  • Art series featuring and promoting breweries local community/artists
  • Supporters send in your pictures with the brewery beers
  • Competitions- win a years supply etc
  • Promote beer finder maps/stockists
  • BrewChats online shows
  • Healthcare worker discounts
  • Posting takeaway food menus
  • Isolation beer festival/tastings
  • Creative sample boxes (core range cartons to mixed cubes)
  • Hand sanitser for sale
  • Live stream bands at home
  • Mega variety packs
  • ISO Games
  • Pop quizzes for discounts/deals
  • Virtual masterclasses
  • Beer cocktail recipes
  • Craft beer baking efforts
  • Midweek madness sales
  • Pics/shout outs/promote/thank the brew crew
  • Letter/email of the day
  • Drive Thru Specials
  • Access to exclusive content
  • Buy a case, get a free….crowler/incentive etc
  • At Home menu’s- bring the taproom to your house
  • Local area bar/venue Monopoly board game shout out
  • Beer/food delivery order apps
  • Promote take away meal/beer packs
  • Brewery supporter quotes
  • Donate a carton/4pack/beer to a health care worker
  • Promote your merch especially female range of gear
  • Win the first case off the canning line
  • Food and beer variety packs
  • Local craft beer collaboration packs featuring various breweries beers
  • Creative specials and daily deals on takeaway food and beers
  • Creative colourful drive thru set ups and instructions
  • Check in on elderly brewery supporters
  • Word searches
  • Caption This
  • Bingo cards
  • Spot the tinnie/beer
  • Colourjng in sheets/Tattoo design sheets
  • Drawing challenges
  • Throw back pictures/moments/memories
  • Nominate a brewery supporter
  • Challenges
  • Zoom wallpapers of the brewery/SKUs
  • Podcasts
  • Hand washing techniques/instructions
  • Deliver care packages to supporters
  • YouTube/Video shows/recaps and rewinds
  • Hero of the brewery (emergency services fan shout outs)
  • Feel good moments/pics/videos
  • Art competitions
  • Countdowns and votes and polls
  • Connect 4 brewery challenges
  • Photo of the day
  • Supporter Nominations
  • Q&A’s with the brewer
  • On This Day
  • Fitness/work out/training tips
  • Craft beer YOGA
  • GIF challenges
  • Share your brewery supporter story- fan sourced
  • Utilising fan generated content
  • Instagram/FB Live with brewer/team member
  • Beat the clock online jigsaw puzzle challenges
  • Emergency/Health services branded merch
  • #FromTheArchives
  • Choose your ultimate brewery team lineups
  • Mental Health Messages and Tips
  • What Self-Iso Personality Are You?
  • Quizzes
  • Polls
  • Brewery Spotify music playlists
  • What are the breweries up to updates
  • CEO messages/emails to supporters
  • Brewery video messages to supporters
  • Twitter/FB/Insty take overs
  • Send letters to the brewery
  • Dogs of the brewery and fans pets etc
  • RSA/ABAC appropriate kids activity worksheets on agriculture/sustainability/hops etc
  • Memes
  • Pixelated pick the beer
  • My ‘brewery Story
  • Random Acts of Kindness
  • Virtual brewery tour
  • 60 seconds Qs with the brewery team
  • Brewery/supporter/bottle shop people profiles
  • TikToks
  • Tattoo profiles of the brewery staff
  • Live Q&A
  • Fun and quirky facts
  • Merch offers and incentives
  • Merchandise daily deals
  • Virtual Meet Ups
  • Online Quizzes Ex. Kahootz
  • Free access to exclusive content
  • Cooking and recipe shows and plans
  • Educational virtual video sessions
  • Virtual tastings
  • Mini documentaries
  • Exclusive special one off merch lines
  • Good News Stories
  • Stay Home Messages
  • Send us your crazy graphic design requests
  • Guess the brewery from the emoji’s
  • Bracket challenges
  • Merch giveaways
  • Your brewery memory
  • Personalised brewery wallpapers
  • CRIBS- brewery home lockdown version
  • #OpenDoorChallenge
  • Fan Art Fridays
  • #GetYourKitOn- shout outs with supporters in their craft beer tees
  • Donate a beer or gift card
  • Gift cards!
  • Stat attacks
  • Stories behind the moments
  • Surprise fans with calls/videos
  • Name The beer
  • Show and Tell (Show Us Your beer cave/memorabilia)
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Community hero of the week
  • Fan discounts for brewery sponsors- support local businesses
  • Thank You Messages to supporters
  • Your Birth Month and First Letter of your name = Your Career/Name etc.
  • Word Challenges: Brewery scattergories
  • Spot The Difference
  • Share favourite beer merch items
  • Mental Health/Fitness webinars
  • Fan video messages of support for the brewery
  • Brewery profiles
  • Fan of the week
  • Animated GIFs
  • Cartoons
  • This Week: Run a schedule of what’s on for supporters
  • Inspirational quotes
  • Virtual Happy Hour’s knock off beers/drinks with team/fans
  • Build the ultimate beer meal
  • Thank you shout outs to health care workers
  • Maze challenges
  • Fans/Brewery nominate a local business that deserves recognition
  • What’s in the brewers/fans fridge?
  • Beer baking challenges
  • Sudoku worksheets
  • One on one video chat with the brewer
  • ‘I Stay Home For….’ Cards
  • Community Support Roster- show who the brewery supports
  • Brewery printable cut outs
  • Virtual Vacations frames for fans
  • Where’s the brewery/beer (where’s wally etc.)
  • Fan/Supporter hall of fame
  • Find the BEER
  • Fan call from the CEO
  • Printable posters/assets
  • Supporter/beer caricatures
  • Brewery DJ doing a set live on social
  • Fans merch lucky dip live
  • Memory games
  • Fan wall at the brewery
  • Promote fans loyalty i.e. 1, 5, 10 years memberships
  • Harness, use and showcase fan generated content
  • Fan appreciation day/week

My Year In Beer: Beers, Ideas, Lessons and Visit Tips From 51 Brewery Experiences in 2019

My year in beer for 2019 has come and gone and while I’ve had a very enjoyable year working in beer (have a read of this article here on my experience working in the craft beer industry) I’ve also had a very satisfying time getting out and about to check out as many craft breweries as I can on my travels.

It’s been rewarding to meet the hard-working people behind the breweries and to try and learn as much as I can about the industry as well as just sample their tasty brews as well as try and get more people and my mates into drinking better quality beer and supporting these local Aussie indie brewers and businesses. 

The industry has so much positivity and enthusiasm from the talented insiders and passionate fans alike who like me love elements such as the tinnie art, talking to the people at the breweries, traveling for beer tourism and beer road trips, collecting too much beer gear merch, learning about the sustainability and environmental approaches as well as experimenting with all the different and diverse flavours and aromas of the brews while at the same time supporting local Aussie businesses. Honestly, how good does it make you feel!

I quickly thought I’d put a bit of a blog post together that both wraps up my year in beer travels as well as provides some insights, ideas, lessons and also some tips for anyone planning on visiting some of these specific breweries listed below. Please feel free to touch base if you’re after any travel tips for these breweries as I’d be happy to help.  Thanks for reading. Enjoy this with a cold brew and bring on 2020.

Key Facts:

  • 51 breweries
  • 49 independent craft breweries
  • 4 states and 1 territory
  • Queensland 10
  • Victoria 20
  • Tasmania 7
  • Western Australia 7
  • New South Wales 6
  • 1 Beervana Festival
  • 1 New Zealand brewery
  • Beers consumed: Lost count. 
  • Best beers: 3 Ravens Pine Lime Creamsicle and T-Bone Brewing Peanut Butter Stout. Too many to list.
  • Best experiences: Felons for the view, Moon Dog World for the crazy set up, Stomping Ground for the beer notes and unique kids play area and Two Bays for giving me a job! Again, too many to list. 

Lessons, Ideas and Insights:

  • Merch. Some really unique, on-trend and new stuff this year from socks to cord caps, canimals to well-designed growlers and enamel pins to beer vouchers. I wrote this blog a few months back about beer merch too that’s worth a look. 
  • Merch stands. Having a colorful, vibrant, creative merch stand with well-designed merch entices more people to take a souvenir away from the brewery.
  • Contact details. Ensuring correct times/addresses/key details are always up to date on social pages/websites and use of bots to streamline punter Q’s on social. 
  • Fridges. Vibrant take away fridges with special deals, mixed packs or added incentives for punters.
  • Glassware. I think Range wins this one for the nicest glassware. Love the glasses there. Goes a long way to have a nice clean glass to enjoy with your brews.
  • Tasting paddles. Townsville Brewery represented the best value for volume. Also like Fixation, having a funky paddle design to put them in goes a long way too for the social posts.
  • Venue architecture. Kids spaces, outdoor seating, plants and garden beds, creative taps (Burleigh’s skate deck ones win this) and you can also never go wrong with astroturf- that’s actually one of the tenents I live by in life too. Love the stuff! Stomping Ground’s kids area is a marvelous example of providing a positive experience for families and kids.
  • Food. The abundance of vegan and GF menu’s in taprooms showcases the inclusive industry this is and draws in more people at the same time. Having the availability of GF beers, spiced ciders, mulled wines, spritz’s, organic or local soft drinks, kombuchas, etc all are smart options to cater to everyone not just beer drinkers.
  • Tasting notes. Stomping Ground seems the most detailed and I do love seeing extensive notes about the beers I’m drinking.
  • Signage. Neon signs look amazing at night or on wet days, signs out the front or simple wayfinding and well-lit spaces to attract.
  • Fan engagement. Live local music, trivia nights, beer memberships/clubs (Inner North’s 100-pint beer club/Range’s run club/ Otherside’s ‘buy a bit of the brewery’), ‘Dogs of Grifter’ also a cute idea to engage the local community. There are so many things these breweries and more are doing and I’ve put this list together and these articles a while back that details more on craft beer fan engagement ideas. 
  • Stickers/Email EDM’s. Burnley’s free stickers for an email sign up. Beer geeks love slapping a sticker on their car or fridge. Just ask me, I’ve got about 50 on the back of my LandCruiser.
  • Brewery tours. Some good ones around from free quick tours of the tanks to $25 tours which included a paddle. These really are one and the same and honestly what more can these be at any brewery anywhere in the world, but the best ones were where I got to talk to the actual people behind the brewery about pain points, local issues and their successes and lessons learned. Obviously that’s me and other folks just want to hear how beer is made. Just talk to the staff about day to day life in beer and find out what that brewery is doing in the local community.
  • Freebies/Deals. 3 Ravens have a box of past beer decals and stickers that you can pick up a memento for a buck. Even just having beer coasters goes a long way as I know many mates who take one as a memento.
  • Sustainability. Loads of sustainability initiatives around the breweries like solar power to bio cups but I like how some offer a free pot or just a beer for bringing back your biopak holders.
  • Little touches. The hydration water station at Black Hops looks impressive and more than just jugs of water.
  • Beer tourism. Smart ideas like the Brisbane and Marickville ‘Beermuda Triangles’.
  • Space. Ample spaces for functions and events with different seating options. Industrial fans when it’s stinking hot or burners when it’s chilly.
  • Beer lists. Clear and concise signage and layouts for cost, beer style, ABV, small note on taste/flavour makes these pop when the person is standing in line to order and easier for the punter to choose which speeds up the service.
  • Accessibility/Transport. Moon Dog World’s massive bike rack area that encourages people to ride in was impressive to see.

 

QUEENSLAND (10)

Range Brewing Co, Newstead, Queensland

  • Fascinating brewery
  • Incredible beers
  • Simple open and airy aesthetic
  • Knowledgeable and friendly staff
  • A must visit

Townsville Brewery, Townsville, Queensland

  • Great value for money for tasting paddle
  • Lovely old Queensland building to marvel at
  • Huge range of beers
  • Lots of art to admire
  • Great staff who were keen for a chat.

Burleigh Brewing Co, Burleigh, Queensland

  • The taps are some of the best in Oz. What a creative idea.
  • Lots of space for all
  • Live music and movie nights
  • Surfboard set up is sweet

Black Hops II, Biggera Waters, Queensland

  • Very nifty ideas here
  • Hydration station
  • Biopack return point
  • Effective signage
  • Funky tap set up
  • Great merch area

Semi Pro Brewing Co, Wolloongabba, Queensland

  • Delicious beers
  • Cool spot at the Gabba- go here before a Lions or cricket game.
  • Lots of seating
  • Kids/family inclusive with good spaces for all
  • TV’s for the cricket etc
  • Lovely staff members

Fortitude Brewing Co, Tamborine Mountain, Queensland

  • Secluded and tranquil brewery
  • Lots of parking and other attractions nearby like cheese and local produce.
  • Live music stage set up is cool
  • Very friendly and passionate staff

Balter Brewing Co, Currumbin, Queensland

  • Nice wall art
  • I loved my BEER cap until I lost it!
  • Coasters and beers all enjoyable.
  • Friendly staff.

Lost Palms Brewing Co, Miami, Queensland

  • Love the design and aesthetic of this brewery
  • Bonus points for giving us some stickers for the car and fridge to promote them
  • I love their art too.

Felons Brewing Co, Brisbane, Queensland

  • Location, location, location is the best bit here.
  • Get a spot overlooking the Brisbane River and grab one of their tasty brews.

Black Hops, Burleigh Heads, Queensland

  • The OG!
  • Love their merch range especially the beer socks.

NEW SOUTH WALES (6)

Stone and Wood Brewing Co, Byron Bay, New South Wales

  • Creative merch area- stands out.
  • Heaps of space for punters inside and out.

Devil’s Elbow Brewing Co, Dubbo, New South Wales

  • Brand new brewery
  • What a win for locals out here
  • Extensive beer list and tasting notes
  • Lots of parking and places to sit

Grifter Brewing Co, Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales

  • Dogs of Grifter was a highlight as were the beers

Stockade Brewery, Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales

  • Sours were mint

Batch Brewing Co, Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales

  • Nice glassware
  • Bonus points for lush hanging trees and nice setting

Sauce Brewing Co, Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales

  • Cool setting out the back
  • Delicious beers here. I was very surprised.

TASMANIA (6)

Hobart Brewing Co, Hobart, Tasmania

  • Epic dark beers
  • Cool merch long sleeve shirts
  • Nice fire areas
  • Bonus points for spiced hot apple cider

Cascade Brewery, Hobart, Tasmania

  • Spun the chocolate wheel and won a carton of retro Cascade tinnies. Was a good day.

Moo Brew at MONA, Tasmania

  • The beer vending machine is hilarious and such a cool concept
  • Nice setting up the top of MONA to try their beers- was quite cheap too given the location

Shambles Brewing Co, Hobart, Tasmania

  • Quality staff up for a chat
  • Great beer list signage
  • Stout was impressive
  • Lots of space out the front to chill under a burner

The Winston, Hobart, Tasmania

  • HUGE beer list
  • Great beer notes
  • Pumping atmosphere
  • Add it to your Tassie list
  • Friendly staffers

Bruny Island Brewing Co, Bruny Island, Tasmania

  • Such a nice setting here
  • Pick up local produce too
  • Stout was insanely good
  • Pack the jumpers and head here if visiting Tassie
  • Loved the tallies.

T-Bone Brewing Co, Hobart, Tasmania

  • Peanut Butter Stout was simply delicious.
  • Cool wall art
  • Funky location in North Hobart
  • Nice staffers
  • Cool merch

VICTORIA (19)

Stomping Ground Beer Hall, Melbourne, Victoria

  • Kids Zone is a clever idea
  • Extensive beer notes
  • Very family-friendly and inclusive

Inner North Brewing Co, Brunswick, Victoria

  • Greenery around the venue is a plus
  • Nice staff up for a chat
  • Cool location down a back street in Brunny
  • Doing impressive beers
  • Nice beer list signage
  • Cool 100-pint membership club….I’m still on 3.

Queenscliff Brewhouse, Prickly Moses Brewing, Queenscliff, Victoria

  • Cheery staff
  • Pumping atmosphere inside and out the back
  • Cool barrel display
  • Nice beer art
  • Good beer lists

Jetty Road Brewing Co, Dromana, Victoria

  • Impressive beers AND food! Food is a winner here
  • Extensive beer art
  • Happy staffers

Urban Alley Brewing, Docklands, Melbourne, Victoria

  • A huge line up of brews
  • Well worth coming here if here for shopping in Docklands or going to an AFL etc game
  • Staff are always polite and friendly

Salt Brewing Co, Airey’s Inlet, Victoria

  • Quiet outdoor setting to enjoy
  • Lots of beer merch and good designs too
  • Beers were delicious
  • Extensive beer notes
  • Staff more than up for a chin wag

Two Bays Brewing Co, Dromana, Victoria

(Disclaimer- I work here but visited as a punter in February before starting out in March)

  • All gluten-free beers and taproom food
  • Vegan menu. We came out here because wife is vegan and she was very impressed
  • Dromana in the Mornington Peninsula is a magnificent 1-hour drive from Melbourne and you can take in a heap of other breweries like Jetty Road, Dainton, Mr Banks, Mornington Peninsula Brewery and loads more.

Valhalla Brewing Co, Geelong, Victoria

  • Owner is a champion fella and had a good chat with him here
  • Nice spot in centre of town and an hour from Melbourne or less
  • Huge beer list

Blackmans Brewery, Torquay, Victoria

  • Lots of merch
  • Lots of seating areas
  • Friendly staff
  • Yum beers

Southern Bay Brewing Co, Geelong, Victoria

  • Great chat with the owner
  • Not open for visits though so not worth rocking up as I did
  • Not much in this part of town
  • Black IPA was delicious

Burnley Brewing Co, Melbourne, Victoria

  • Love the beer socks
  • Lots of clever merch ideas
  • Free stickers
  • Huge beer list
  • Happy hour $4 beers are incredible
  • Lots of events here
  • Quality, happy staffers
  • Mint glassware

Moon Dog World, Preston, Victoria

  • Interesting!
  • Lot of spaces to chill out in
  • Vegan/GF menu
  • Some cool activities to be had here
  • Lots of merch items
  • Bike racks out the front are smart to encourage cycling in

Moon Dog Brewery, Abbotsford, Victoria

  • Another OG
  • Well worth a visit
  • Funky set up
  • Great beer list and happy staff

Black Dog Brewing Co, Taminick, Victoria

  • Stopped here when traveling back to Brisbane up the Newell Highway
  • Make a stop in it’s worth it
  • Lots of beer styles
  • Picked up a cap- love a black dog!

Fixation Brewing Co, Collingwood, Victoria

  • All about the IPA’s
  • Nice glassware
  • Creative beer paddles
  • Such kind, friendly staff
  • Nice beer list wall

Thunder Road Brewing Co, Brunswick, Victoria

  • Chilled place in Brunswick
  • Lots of beer varieties to suit all tastes
  • Plenty of events
  • Good pricing for craft beers

Detour Brewing Co, Coldstream, Victoria

  • Did a day road trip out here- not far from Melbourne – the scenery is sublime.
  • Unsure whats happening as says ‘permanently closed’ on google
  • Cool merch 
  • Nice staff- brewer had the time for a chat
  • Let me take a pic behind the bar.

Temple Brewing Co, Brunswick, Victoria 

  • Nice spot any day of the week
  • Some of the nicest people work here
  • Huge beer list

3 Ravens Brewing Co, Thornbury, Victoria

  • Scene of one of my favourite beers for 2019
  • Love the beer club here
  • Great use of ex-stickers/beer decals selling for a $1 or $2
  • Such a chilled space
  • Quality staff make this an inclusive space

Future Mountain Brewing and Blending, Reservoir, Victoria

  • Seriously good brews
  • Extensive beer notes
  • Amazing glassware
  • Staff that give a damn

WESTERN AUSTRALIA (7)

Gage Roads Brewing Co, Palmyra, Western Australia

  • Such a good visit but no brewery tours here
  • Good to try the other Gage varieties like Hello Sunshine and Atomic before launch
  • Good to get the Gage beers at Optus Stadium too

Otherside Brewing Co, Myaree, Western Australia

  • Wow! What a venue.
  • Love the ‘buy a bit of the brewery’ idea
  • Colourful takeaway fridge
  • A must visit in Perth.

Blasta Brewing Co, Burswood, Western Australia

  • Live local music
  • Good beer lists
  • Nice crew
  • Close to transport. Came here before State of Origin.

Little Creatures Brewing Co, Fremantle, Western Australia

  • Very cool merch- love the hop hats
  • Cool branded cars for photo ops
  • Quality beers 
  • A very nice experience that’s well worth checking out in Freo

NowhereMan Brewing Co, West Leederville, Western Australia

  • Great quality glasses and brews
  • Friendly staff 

Nail Brewing Co, Bassendean, Western Australia

  • Unparalleled hospitality 
  • No brewery tour but unbelievable experience meeting this legend
  • Get behind Nail-they do amazing things!

Beerland Brewing Co, Perth, Western Australia

  • Love the beer club idea
  • Pumping atmosphere

Garage Project Fermentation Workshop, Wellington, New Zealand

  • Very lucky to be able to take this in
  • Some of the best beers in the world
  • Amazing hospitality

Beervana, Wellington, New Zealand

  • No words, just go do this!

THE 2019 FAN ENGAGEMENT/ FAN EXPERIENCE 100-1 RECAP

Hello and welcome to my annual 100-1 fan engagement/experience year in review where I take a look back on the creative, innovative, exciting and tailored strategies from teams, venues, sports marketing agencies and sponsors which in my opinion greatly captivated fans across the globe in 2019.

There is a customary heavy focus on Australia and New Zealand as I am based here and please do keep in mind that this is a very subjective list based on my own personal experiences at games, what I saw from colleagues around the globe and what fans have suggested. There will, of course, be ideas and activations that I have missed so please feel free to tag them and add to the discussion here or on social. 

Some of the key areas of focus included:

  • Technology innovations from augmented reality to smart jerseys.
  • F&B incentives were again a trending area with more venues offering early bird offers, family-friendly deals, kids combo meal deals as well as catering for dietary needs and craft beer. 
  • Innovative social seating experiences such as pools, couches, and beaches in venues to offer fans unique fan experiences that can’t be had at home.
  • Inclusive approaches that offer better access and representation to fans with diverse needs to enjoy the same fan experiences as every other fan both in the community and on game day.
  • Harnessing the power of fan-generated content. Find out what skills your fans have by listening to them and then utilize these skills. Fellow fans love this while the fan feels a genuine sense of appreciation that they’re being rewarded for their contribution. I’m a big fan of this area.
  • Sustainable environmental approaches as fans care about their local communities and the environment around the team and society.
  • More political and social justice concerns from fans and teams that put inclusion and communities first.
  • Seamless, tech-driven, fan-friendly venues.

When it comes to fan engagement strategies and improving the fan experience there are few thoughts that I’ll leave you with before starting the 100-1 recap:

Thinking like kids: We must never forget to think like fans, families and in particular junior fans. The ability to continually put ourselves in the shoes of kids and get on their level as well as remember the importance and feeling of those first moments of fandom that we had as kids when we were enthralled and excited by our favourite team or player.

Listening and responding with authenticity: Constantly listening to fans is vital but it is not enough. Responding with empathy and authenticity goes such a long way in driving lifetime fan loyalty.

Keeping it simple: The greatest fan engagement is often the simplest stuff. While I’m constantly road testing the latest tech on my game day travels because I’m a huge fan of the way technology is enhancing our game days I do believe that stripping it all back to the purest and most honest form of fan engagement ends up having the most significant impact on fans. There are a number of outstanding examples of this below.

Inclusion: More than ever thinking about fans as people and not customers and looking at what we can do to better listen and engage them for the benefit of all. 

Personalisation: Never underestimate what it means to a fan to know that you have put them first by directly targeting them.

I trust that this educational summary provides you with some basis for thinking about how you can both improve your fan experience and better engage your fans on both a grassroots or global level while at the same time marvelling at the creativity on show here.

Finally, a huge round of applause to all of the hard-working, creative and talented front office team and venue crews, sports agencies, sponsors and other stakeholders out there who continually create these outstanding experiences for fans across the globe each year. 

If you would like to peruse the previous 100-1 annual summaries then you can find them here:

2018

2017

2016

2015

100. Craft beer and sports team and venue partnerships continued to pour in this year with the establishment of new partnerships with local breweries and venues in an effort to bring fans, local businesses, and the community closer together by offering local and better quality beer options on game days. 

I’ve written a fair bit about this area with my articles well worth a read to understand what teams, venues, and craft breweries are getting out of these partnerships. More info here.

Some of the craft beer and some of the other interesting beer developments from Australia and overseas included:

  • Melbourne Storm and Brick Lane Brewing
  • South Sydney Rabbitohs and Young Henry’s
  • Brisbane Bullets and Newstead Brewing Co
  • Melbourne Demons and Brewanity
  • Port Adelaide and Pirate Life Brewing Co
  • Newcastle Jets and Murray’s Brewing Co

99. Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) post-game kick to kick.  

98. NBL Brisbane Bullets post-game on-court autograph session.

97. @MijnVitesse  launched a pay per month ticketing model.

96. Wimbledon offering vegan strawberries and cream for the first time. A theme emerging of inclusive F&B offerings around the global grounds. 

95. The hilarious New Zealand Warriors (NRL) ‘Bush Shirt’ that took social by storm and will be debuted in the 2020 season. A clever idea to tap into the random side of fans and a nation’s culture. 

 

94. Weetbix and BBL/WBBL personalized backyard cricket bats.

93. Coventry City music themed ‘Specials’ kit for Kick It Out campaign round. Also special mention to West Ham United and their collab with Iron Maiden. Will there be more of these music/team kit collabs?

92. The Boundary Social at The Gabba, Brisbane.

91. F&B prices at Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII.

90. Chicago Blackhawks NHL chopping board giveaway to fans.

89. NY Mets Seinfeld Night and bobblehead giveaway.

88. Australian Women’s Cricket team trading cards. It’s been so good to see the rise of more women’s sport athletes being featured on cricket trading cards for fans of all ages to collect. Also Super Netball, WBBL and AFLW as well. 

87. Brisbane Lions (AFL) umpired youth games in the community. You should also check out the review I wrote of the Brisbane Lions and Gabba’s Verandah fan experience. 

86. Win an Adelaide Giants (ABL) contract for a day.

85. Chief Beer Officer at the LA Rams.

84. Queens Park Rangers crest collection for new members.

83. AFLX at Marvel Stadium. Light up goal posts, free trading cards and loads of kids activities. Another impressive event for 2019 at the venue. A lot of AFLX got blasted by the media and fans who weren’t the target market.

82. Kensington Oval beach cricket party atmosphere complete with jet ski chairs.

81. Melbourne Storm (NRL) Street Crew.

80. Commemorative yesteryear tickets from Collingwood AFLW.

79. Adelaide Crows (AFL) and Borussia Dortmund replying to fans with personalised kit wallpapers.

78. AGF Children’s Day drawings.

77. AIK Fotboll selling pre-signed jerseys for fans.

76Manchester United and Marriot launched the ‘Seat of Dreams’ at Old Trafford. 

75. New Zealand Warriors (NRL) and Auckland Blues (Super Rugby) ‘Codes of Auckland’ partnership and the Sydney Kings (NBL) and Sydney FC (A-League) partnership.

74. At Pollock FC in Scotland a big football fan – a dog called ‘Yardley’ – is allowed to watch games from the stands at Newlandsfield Park. Now that’s inclusion. Also, #74 just a bit of a laugh in the list. Also, lets put the Dallas Cowboys cat here too. That was very responsive from the AT&T Stadium and team to add the cat to the lineup. 

73. Reuseable cups from Rylands FC and free hot drinks to those who bring their own reusable cup along on match days.

72. @OU_Football launched a website with content and profiles of each signee. They made each of them their own logo and announced the athletes on the site.

71. This lovely story from the UT Vols.

70. Cousin Eddie hat giveaway from M State. One of the best random giveaways of the year.

69. This barbershop and barbershop singing girls at the V8 Supercars at Sandown Raceway in Victoria.

68. New Jersey Devils (NHL) had kids draw pictures of their favourite players and then put them up on the screen.

67. Seattle Sounders (MLS) calling out racism and fascism and in the process showing how inclusive they are to their community. 

66. Coventry City FC’s family zone but in particular their ‘lucky dip’ idea which I thought was simple and effective.

65. The Lawn at the MCG and in particular the caricature part of this. A simple and effective idea for hospitality guests and for kids in a fan zone. Here’s also a review I review of The Lawn fan experience that I wrote for Digital Sports Labs. 

64. Brisbane Roar (A-League) CEO shouting fans drinks at away games.

63. Montrose FC got fans together to road test the pies for the venue. Possibly the best fan engagement all year for food lovers.

62. Reading Fightin Phils had a gender reveal fireworks night.

61. The Holden mini-trucks race circuit at the State of Origin match at Optus Stadium in Perth, Western Australia.

60. Family-Friendly Sunday’s at the SCG. Discounted F&B prices for fans. What other venues are doing similar things?

59. Gender-Neutral toilets at Whitten Oval for the Western Bulldogs AFLW match. A very inclusive way for all fans to be made to feel welcome on game days.

58. Freebies for kids at Marvel Stadium over summer 2019/20 BBL/WBBL matches. 

57. This classy note from Manchester City to fans.

56. Various LA Dodgers themed nights.

55. DB Cooper CSI themed night at the Portland Pickles.

54. Pink Beer for the Pink Test at the SCG.

53. The Pool and Boundary Beach Club at Optus Stadium, Perth, Western Australia.

52. New Zealand All Blacks ‘Black Laundry’. “Running until the start of November, and open ahead of every All Blacks match, Steinlager wants to inspire Kiwis to show their true colours by sacrificing an item of clothing and dying it black  – with one Auckland woman already having dyed her wedding dress.”

51. Fans First free shipping. Savannah Bananas removed merch shipping fees.

50. San Francisco 49er’s ‘All You Can Eat’ tickets. 

49. State of Origin Light Show at Optus Stadium, Perth.

48. The Queensland Maroons visited the Brisbane Police Watch House.

47. Parramatta Eels (NRL) moving statue at Bankwest Stadium. Check out Bankwest Stadium too. I wrote a fan experience review for Aus Leisure Mag which can be found here.

46. This stubby cooler sweater from Cricket Australia as a hospitality piece of merch. Had to include something merchandise related and this was one of the best pieces I picked up this year. More on Brisbane’s The Gabba and Cricket Australia fan experience can be found here.

45. Sydney Roosters (NRL) members names on the LED ribbon at the SCG. Nice way to made to be feel welcome.

44. Brisbane Broncos (NRL) hackathon. What other teams did these well in 2019?

43. Peterborough PUFC young fans guard of honor.

Great to see so many first time fans at the game today – the looks on their faces when they see the players is priceless! Big ‘fans for the future’ initiative as alluded to by @JasonDavidNeale earlier is coming soon to get these back and ultimately season ticket holders.#pufc pic.twitter.com/KyuVypQRew

— Jake Baxter (@Jake__Baxter) February 2, 2019


42. These incredible kit reveal videos from Arsenal (Adidas) and Chelsea (Nike).

41. Free iconic Tayla Harris kick AFLW badges handed out at AFLW games.

40. Eredivisie Toy Toss. 

39. Manchester City became the first sports club to launch with YouTube Kids.

38. Royal Antwerp FC launched a special section for their vision impaired fans.

37. The @ThunderbirdsAHL‘s celebrated the 30th anniversary of the animated comedy series “The Simpsons.” with these Ice-O-Topes jerseys.

36. Kombucha coming into F&B offerings more and more like at Seattle Seahawks for foodies as healthier stadium concession products gain deeper traction with fans. 

35. Iranian women were allowed to attend a national team game for the first time in 40 years.

34. Baltimore Ravens Pop Up Shop idea.

33. LinkedIn sponsors Grimsby Town FC to help community score jobs. They launched the ‘LinkedIn Lounge’ – a permanent matchday fixture throughout the season, where match goers will be able to see current vacancies in the area, along with details of how to apply.

32. Huggity’s scrum machine challenge. 

31. For the Raptors 25th-anniversary, @PizzaPizzaLtd created an interactive GameBox to offer a tabletop gaming experience. 

30. Tottenham Hotspur’s fast pour beers at the new venue in London. Tech has been around for a while but it seemed to take off this year with the launch of the new stadium. 

29. Baltimore Ravens debut mixed reality Raven in venue.

28. NBA smart jerseys.

27. PSV helps a young fan enjoy a matchday experience like no other.

26. Chelsea FC unveiled a new ‘shirt holders’ Nike kit designed by fans.

25. Penn State Football’s creative poster that transforms into a helmet.

24. Hertha BSC ticket bot.

23. Premier League smart shirt.

22. FC Midtjylland hired a bagpipes player to greet Rangers fans.

21. FC Union Berlin made these posters up for their recently deceased fans. 

20. Feyenoord and Opel offer each away game a clubcar for four fans to travel to away games. 

19. Everton FC. Treats on seats for first time under 11 Season Ticket members to welcome them to Goodison Park for 2019/20.

18. Paris Saint-Germain partnered with Deliveroo for in-seat ordering at Parc des Princes.

17. Swindon Town FC Junior Takeover Day. Also another good example of this below from Brentford FC.

16. Brilliant work from Watford FC for those fans wanting to know costs, first time attendance and every detail for the match. This makes it so easy for fans to better understand the game day.

15. Andres Iniesta’s Farewell Jersey idea from beIN Sports.

14. VR work from Bayern Munich.

13. These ushers at Fiserv Forum for the Bucks game. 

12. GWS (AFL) ahead of the 2019 AFL Grand Final.

11. Dallas Cowboys/AT&T Stadium AR ‘Pose With The Pro’s’ activation. Also another fine example from Wolverhampton Wanderers too below.

10. Bat flips at the BBL/WBBL.

9. Swindon Town FC taking fans to their seats on their first game days.

8. DC United getting the local music community involved in game days.

7. FC Utrecht galvanising fans to donate their warm clothes to their supporters who live below the poverty line.

6. Charlotte Checkers having personalised notes on fans seats.

5. The Washington Capitals announcing their official team dog of the team. 

4. The warm welcoming work from Brentford FC’s team to create personalised welcome emails to fans coming to Griffin Park for the first time. A delightful way to ensure fans feel welcome and have all the information they need to be able to get the most out of their first experience. 

3. The work of teams like Melbourne Rebels (Super Rugby), Penrith Panthers (NRL) and Newcastle Knights (NRL) listening to their fans to lower the prices on their jerseys to $99 from the original costs of upwards of $170. 

 

2. The amazing work the Gold Coast Titans (NRL) and other organisations did to create a rugby league physical disability competition so that these young players could play the game they love. Watch Leagueability on ABC here. “A heart-warming, inspirational story about a bunch of young blokes who live for the game but have never been allowed to play and start a physical disability rugby league competition in regional Australia.”

1. AS Roma’s new recruits and missing persons campaign. There are just no words for how brilliant this was. 

So there you have it for 2019.

A pretty impressive list of fan engagement strategies and fan experience insights from across the globe highlighting the outstanding work being done to entertain and delight fans in various parts of the world.

100 (actually there’s well over that as I’ve combined a few here and there) truly exceptional strategies but what have I missed? What was happening for you as a fan in your neck of the woods?

Thanks also to my colleagues and the people I look up to in the industry and this space such as but not limited to:

Be sure to also scroll back through the 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 countdowns too to see what’s been happening over the past few years (found at the top of this post).

Let me know at @MrBlairHughes on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

Thanks and have a great holiday break.

THE 2018 FAN ENGAGEMENT/EXPERIENCE 100-1 RECAP

Hello and welcome to my annual 100-1 fan engagement/experience year in review where I take a look back on the creative, innovative, exciting and tailored strategies from teams, venues, sports marketing agencies and sponsors which in my opinion greatly captivated fans across the globe this year (with a heavy focus on Australia and in particular Melbourne owing to the fact we do it so well here and also it’s where I reside).

I attended over 50 different sporting game day’s in 2018 across Australia, England, New Zealand and the USA to continue studying fans and the fan experience and while you can find these full recaps in my FANS HQ resource it was in my honest opinion another outstanding year in this space.

Some of the key areas of focus included:

  • Technology innovations from augmented reality to robots continued to be used in creative ways by teams and venues and shows no signs of slowing down
  • F&B incentives were again a trending area with more venues offering early bird offers, kids combo meal deals, catering for dietary needs and craft beer
  • Innovative social seating experiences in venues to offer fans unique fan experiences that can’t be had at home
  • Inclusive approaches which offer better access and representation to fans with diverse needs to enjoy the same fan experiences as every other fan.
  • Harnessing the power of fan generated content. Find out what skills your fans have by listening to them and then utilise these skills. Fellow fans love this while the fan feels a genuine sense of appreciation that they’re being rewarded for their contribution.
  • Sustainable environmental approaches as fans care about their local communities
  • Encouraging authentic and useful items when it comes to promotional giveaways (also relevant to the point above so that items aren’t just thrown away in local neighbourhoods as fans leave the precincts)

When it comes to fan engagement strategies and improving the fan experience there are few thoughts that I’ll leave you with before starting the 100-1 recap:

Thinking like kids: We must never forget to think like fans, families and in particular junior fans. The ability to continually put ourselves in the shoes of kids and get on their level as well as remember the importance and feeling of those first moments of fandom that we had as kids when we were enthralled and excited by our favourite team or player.

Listening and responding with authenticity: Constantly listening to fans is vital but it is not enough. Responding with empathy and authenticity goes such a long way in driving lifetime fan loyalty. 

Keeping it simple: The greatest fan engagement is often the simplest stuff. While I’m constantly road testing the latest tech on my game day travels because I’m a huge fan of the way technology is enhancing our game days I do believe that stripping it all back to the purest and most honest form of fan engagement ends up having the most significant impact on fans. There are a number of outstanding examples of this below. 

I trust that this educational summary provides you with some basis for thinking about how you can both improve your fan experience and better engage your fans on both a grassroots or global level while at the same time marvelling at the creativity on show here.

Finally, a huge round of applause to all of the hard working, creative and talented front office team and venue crews, sports agencies, sponsors and other stakeholders out there who continually create these outstanding experiences for fans across the globe each year. Fans should be immensely proud of the work that is done to entertain us on game days especially given the hurdles these stakeholders often face when it comes to staffing resources, budget restrictions and time.

If you would like to peruse the previous 100-1 annual summaries then you can find them here:

2017

2016

2015

100. Craft beer and sports team and venue partnerships seemed to be endless this year both in Australia and overseas with the establishment of new partnerships with local breweries and venues in an effort to bring fans, local businesses and the community closer together by offering local and better quality beer options on game days. I’ve written a bit about this in 2018 and encourage you to read my article in Froth Mag (Australia’s premier craft beer magazine to further your understanding of the Australian craft beer scene).

Some of the craft beer and some of the other interesting beer developments from Australia and overseas included:

  • Melbourne City launched their City Pale Ale with Stomping Ground Brewing Co
  • Young Henry’s and South Sydney Rabbitohs partnering up
  • Perth’s Optus Stadium now has Gage Roads Brewing Co running through it’s taps for fans
  • Two Birds Brewing and the Western Bulldogs women’s AFLW team joined forces
  • Newstead Brewing Co in Brisbane added to their QLD Reds partnership by joining forces with the NBL Brisbane Bullets
  • Wellington’s Westpac Stadium added the delicious Panhead Brewery for the All Blacks clash in September
  • Wigan launched their LATICS Golden Ale
  • The New York Yankees and BluePoint Brewery printed players’ faces on beer this season at Yankee Stadium (also on coffee and some food). Supposedly though this got pulled soon after by the MLB
  • The Hartford Yard Goats became the first team to sell beer baseball bats
  • Essex Cricket gave away free beers to fans
  • 4 Pines is now on tap at the SCG in Sydney

99. San Francisco Giants and Rugby World Cup 7’s partnership for ‘Rugby Night’ and ‘Rugby in the Cove’ which saw  giveaways, meet and greets with some of Rugby’s biggest names and rugby played on this barge as well as in AT&T Park.

98. The NSW Cricket team took to the SCG in helmets designed by cricket fans from around NSW. It’s always good to see teams tap into fan generated content whether online or elsewhere. Your fans have skills. Harness their passions, creativity and skills. 

97. Global venues are seeing all types of creative and unique fan friendly additions to draw people in on game day and while barber shops have been done before by teams and venues in the past, the impressive Killer Mike barber shop set up at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena was on another level this year and provided a truly unique fan experience for Atlanta Hawks fans. 

96. The teacher ambassador programs from Sydney teams including SydneyFC and the SydneyKings were a smart way to motivate schools and teachers to learn more about football and basketball skills through these two Sydney teams.

95. When nine-year-old Willow went viral after receiving a Sam Kerr Matilda’s jersey for her birthday and then got to meet her hero later on.

94. The incredible atmosphere created by the fans at the Tonga versus Australia international rugby league game at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand in October. Just get a load of this fully engaged crowd of passionate fans in all their colour and glory. A sight to behold.

93. The A-League’s Central Coast Mariner’s away game theatre set up for fans where they can watch games on the big screen, pick up merch and grab a feed. A great way to draw in the fans on non home games.

92. Inter Milan launched their “Inter Social Night” to bring in-stadium activities to fans around the world and even included the players having their social handles on the back of their kits.

91. AS Roma’s cheeky social media content that entertains many football fans across the globe.

90. An entertaining and interactive activation from the Montreal GrandPrix here.

89. Accrington Stanley’s long term strategy and commitment to acquiring the next generation of fans with their giveaway of 1,200 free football kits to year three children.

88. Doncaster Rovers are consistently one of the best in the business when it comes to fan engagement and not least because they actually effectively communicate their initiatives so well to their members and the wider sports business. In 2018 they had a fan announce one of their latest player signings which was a simple and clever idea.

87. The entries for Doncaster Rovers 3rd kit design competition which were designed by children and young people, all of whom engaged with a mental health campaign as part of the entry process. The colourful winning design is featured below.

86. These ‘Guess the Attendance’ and ‘Guess the Score’ boards for junior fans that I saw in the kids and family stand at Bristol City’s Ashton Gate Stadium in October. A fairly simple and engaging idea for kids with correct answers winning some prizes. 

85. Premiership Rugby side Harlequin’s ‘Quins Cup’ reusable cup program. For £1 you can keep the souvenir cup too. Great to see an environmental approach to reducing stadium plastic waste at the Twickenham Stoop. 

84. Oldham Athletic became the first club in the EFL to offer sensory packs for autistic fans. The packs included headphones, a fidget spinner, a map of the ground and more. Along with this, the inclusive set up at Watford FC’s Vicarage Road which sees their sensory room set up for autistic children to ensure that every fan/member is included on game day.

83. The Young Visitor Wristbands at Wembley Stadium.

82. The quality sponsor giveaway item of these free seat cushions that every fan received at both the NRL and AFL Grand Final’s in Sydney and Melbourne respectively. These also included free sunscreen for fans and other game day supplies and were a smart and useful sponsor giveaway that will be used by fans for many games to come. 

81. The AFL Grand Final Footy Festival which was an outstanding fan experience at the MCG and in my opinion is right up there with Super Bowl NFL Experience, Australian Open, Australian Grand Prix and Denver Broncos as one of the best global fan zones due largely in part to it’s quality inclusive family and fan fun focus.

The fan engagement fun and sponsor activations around the MCG Footy Festival included:

  • The Dunkinator
  • Ultimate Handball Challenge
  • Tower of Torp 
  • Fitness challenges
  • AFL Kids activities
  • Inflatables
  • Scream A Meter
  • Family zone
  • Ball pit
  • Kicking challenges

80. The Buggy Transfer Service from the MCG which has been a clever inclusive addition to the fan experience here at the G for less mobile fans and those needing assistance around the ground on game days.

79. The NRL Cronulla Sharks invited members and fans onto the field after a win to join the players in singing the team song.

78. The NRL Penrith Panthers ‘Stand Up! Flags Up!’ campaign. The club’s call to arms where fans were encouraged to make their own Panthers flag, bring one from home or buy one from the Panther Shop. The main objective was to get involved and it worked incredibly well when I visited in round one which was a sell out. 

77. The NFL Seattle Seahawks game day selfie #12sTakeFlight‘ photo opportunity.

76. The NRL Sydney RoostersRocky Run at Allianz Stadium which was an innovative motion capture experience that allowed fans to score length-of-the-field tries while fending off defenders in the process. 

75. The Detroit Lions NBA team offer one free shot on the court for all kids post game.

74. Durham FC’s updated Match Day Calculator. They’ve updated this since a year or two back but this is just superb stuff for families from Durham WFC. A simple checklist/calculator in visual form for the match day is a creative, simple and authentic idea for fans. 

73. The creative fan engagement from Toronto WolfPack this year that featured:

  • Stadium wide wrestling match
  • Bubble Footy
  • Medieval Times jousting
  • Beer Olympics
  • Tag Rugby
  • Hundred person line dancing competition

72. The inclusive approach of how the FIFA World Cup helped the deaf and hard of hearing community watch Russia 2018 World Cup.

71. The way in which the AFL Collingwood Magpies helped out a young fan who was too sick to be our junior mascot at a game so they strapped a GoPro on his brother who did it for him.

70. The Cleveland Browns smart BudLight beer fridges that were eventually unlocked for Browns fans to enjoy a free beer. In recognition of the poor Browns form,  these “Victory Fridges” full of free Bud Light beer were installed in bars around Cleveland and opened when the Browns won their first game this season.

69. The NRL Brisbane Broncos featured a new social seating section for fans to ‘Take in the Gold’ thanks to long time sponsor XXXX.

 

68. The Baltimore Orioles became the first pro team to wear uniforms with Braille lettering while they also ran a yoga night called ‘Yoga at the Yard’ where fans were able to nab a free yoga mat. Inclusion and fitness- staples of both the American game day fan experience and promotional runs.

67. Manchester City welcomed two very special mascots who have held season tickets for 85 years to the pitch before their clash with Fulham. Hands down adding oldies will make their day and bring a tear and smile to all fans at the same time.

66. Barnsley FC collaboration that saw the UK’s first gamification event.

65. The new Fantatics venue technology which enables fans to order merchandise online for pickup at these merchandise lockers placed in venue concourses like seen at the Wells Fargo Centre this year.

64. ‘The Lawn’ social entertainment experience from Cricket Australia and TLA at the MCG this year with it’s superb presentation, attentive staff and all the little touches (sunscreen/straws/shade all well thought out).

63. The Melbourne Renegades BBL team unveiled a new augmented reality app which saw fans bring the team to life through a cricket game played by wearing a special glove.

62. The hilarious Georgetown Hoops Actual Reality (AR) Seating Section that featured:

  • No cell phones allowed
  • Letter writing station
  • Actually talk face-to-face

61. The AFLX competition that featured a brilliant kids zone with activities galore. Mascots, neon LED posts, free fruit, cheer squads all together added a lively atmosphere. There were bean bags with a view, activities, food trucks and kids could catch the ball as it went through the posts. It wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but it was a huge fan experience win for kids and families and that was the essential point that was missed by many as the AFL seeks to acquire and turn the next generation of young fans into lifelong members.

60. Adelaide FC’s social media contribution with both their mascot Claude and their responsive, authentic and often times hilarious content.

59. The promotional freebies that every fan received at the Super Bowl which included a touchdown light cup Budlight cup, hand warmers and ‘finger lights’ for the half time show.

58. ‘F1 Fan Voice’.  F1 launched the Fan Voice community with forums, blogs and surveys to ‘better listen to fans’. Seems F1 has really picked up the fan engagement since the acquisition to bring in new fans and better engage the hardcore ones. 

57. The brilliant free fruit and hot chocolate giveaways for young fans at Etihad Stadium (now Marvel Stadium) in Melbourne during AFL games this season. 

56. The Scottish FA’s ticket treasure hunt. Find the player card and win…

55. AFL Richmond Tigers ‘Raise the virtual AFL premiership flag’ augmented reality feature that let fans raise the AFL trophy.

54. The Irish RFU’s free jersey for all passengers on this flight into London for the Six Nations match against England.

53. Wigan’s female fans forum which saw female Latics fans have a chance to express their views on all areas of the club.

52. Everton FC’s clever work with this virtual mascot experience for an ill young fan. Fantastic inclusive and innovative work all round.

51. The Jacksonville Jaguars unveiling their doggy daycare to the South Fan Deck at TIAA Bank Field.

50. The San Jose Sharks game day for the Stanley Cup Playoffs with choc pucks, special team ice cream and these projections.

49. The AFL Brisbane LionsTweet of the Week’ 

48. The NRL Canberra Raiders unveiled their new female mascot, Velda the Valkyrie. Bravo to every team out there who have stepped up for mascot equality in 2018.

47. Commonwealth Games ‘Giant Sing Along’ as well as this sunscreen/mirror combo (at kids height too) which was a clever set up at CBUS Stadium for #GC2018.

46. The NRL NSW Blues introduction of BLUiE, the world’s first bionic Blatchys Blue that was equipped with a 360-degree camera and VR technology. BLUiE gave fans unprecedented access to the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues in 2018. Along with this, the Blues took a page out of the Ole Miss ‘Walk Of Champions’ book by walking through the crowd on their way to the MCG for game one.

45. The MasterCard and ANZ bank sponsor activations at the Australian Open in Melbourne that included this pool set up and fan hub which offered phone charging, cash point services and other fan experience incentives for ANZ customers.

44. ‘The Garden’ at ATT Park which is a first-of-its-kind mini-farm and outdoor classroom that provides a platform for community engagement, education, 50+ kinds of fresh produce and hosts field trips for school children. I loved this focus on innovation and sustainability here when I visited in June.

43. Monthly subscription passes have flourished this year in US sports with both the Spurs and Stockton being two of the monthly mobile ticketing passes that caught fans attention and enabled a seamless entry as part of the fan experience. The NZ Warriors also had a unique offer for fans whereby they could choose their own ticket price for the final game of the season.

42. The way in which the A-League’s Brisbane Roar and sponsor Actron Air actively listened and responded to fan‘s voices and requests to have the sponsor logo better compliment the kit.

41. The Citizen Bank Park new beer delivery via text message feature.

40. Watford FC’s brilliant idea to reward fans loyalty by sending our free jerseys.

39. AFL team Greater Western Sydney’s films on the field at Spotless Stadium prior to matches.

38. The AFL’s ‘Neverbeens’ membership program at both GWS and Sydney Swans with their booths for first time fans which saw them get a lanyard, scarf, info book, copy of the match day program.

37. The All Blacks fun and educational programming for young ones with their Ruggerbees kids TV show.

36. Alport FC looked after fans by offering them the ability to borrow these hot water bottles for free during the games where it was freezing. What a novel idea. AZ Alkmaar also ran a campaign we’re they offered their fans free hot drinks throughout an evenings match where the temperature dropped to -15C.

35. Brentford FC having a young away fan read out the team sheet on game day alongside a junior fan reading the home team squad.

34. The exciting smart jersey developments with a selected batch of GWS AFL fans trialling Australian company Solos‘ wearable smart tech guernsey.

33. In 2018 there has been continued progress in global venues and teams implementing and offering fan first pricing incentives such as early bird offers, combo deals, kids meal deals and cheaper options on food and beverage in an effort to draw fans into grounds earlier and ease the pain on the hip pocket.

Some developments have included the following but are not limited to:

  • The prices at the US Open
  • Atlanta Hawks fan friendly prices
  • Marvel/Etihad Stadium’s 10% off offer on F&B
  • Detroit Lions fan first prices
  • Oklahoma City Thunder’s kids $1 menu
  • Collingwood Magpies AFL kids combo deal which includes a pack of trading cards
  • Sydney’s ANZ Stadium fan first pricing options on game day grub
  • Manly Sea Eagles NRL $10 combos at LottoLand Oval

32. The MLS Vancouver Whitecaps ‘Caps Cruiser fan engagement truck that brought 200+ events to the neighbourhood with a fold-out stage, two large TVs and an epic surround sound system which saw the Cruiser built to party and entertain fans.

31. The Google Home Mini Pie Shop activation at the MCG in Melbourne. 

30. Over 2000 fans enjoyed a summer BBQ at Levis Stadium for the San Francisco 49ers Picnic On The Field.

29. The LA Dodgers distributing crypto tokens that unlocked one of three digital player bobbleheads that can be stored in a fan’s Ethereum wallet. It was believed to be the first crypto-based giveaway in pro sports.

28. The Frisco Roughriders hosted their “Pitch Day” with fans to share ideas for theme nights and promotions for the 2019 season.

27. Telford United welcomed a Syrian family to their first match in an effort to welcome and show solidarity with refugees. Inclusion at its finest. Well done.

26. BBL Melbourne Stars ‘Date Night’ at the MCG complete with roses for fans.

25. The rise of smart home devices like the Google Home and Amazon Alexa this year has enabled teams such as the Washington Wizards and New England Patriots among others to provide fans with timely briefings and news updates, fun facts, trivia and more.

24. Minnesota Vikings collaborated with 3M to give every fan a purple film which when placed in front of a cell flash light turned the stadium completely purple.

23. Fantastic campaign by FC Utrecht to personalise every season member’s seats at the first home game of the season.

22. What a moment it was when 94-year-old Roy, who’s living with dementia, fulfilled a lifelong dream by scoring a penalty for Notss County FC. How good is sport!

21. The oversized treadmill going 21km/hour that had many fans trying to keep up with Eliud Kipchoge’s world record marathon pace at the 2018 Chicago Marathon expo.

20. FC Bayern Munich became the first sports organisation in the world to launch an optimised website service explicitly for poor internet connections to engage fans in certain areas such as Africa, the Middle East and Asia. 

19. Manchester City launched an artificial intelligence-powered wearable smartband with a plethora of special features, including live match reporting, 24/7 inside information, updates, real-time match stats, breaking news, fan polls and quizzes.

18. The Augmented Reality Sports Analysis technology used by Danish broadcaster TV2 Nord with their analysis of Le Tour de France showcased the immersive nature of AR tech. 

17. Human Pac-Man court projection game at the Fertitta Center in Houston, Texas.

16. The NRL CEO and Chair of the ARLC entertained fans with a fan forum before a game in Sydney which was welcomed by rugby league fans for the authentic nature of the communications and engagement from the higher ups at NRL HQ.

15. FC Rostov launched a limited edition fourth shirt with a carpet design.  This all came about after one fan was renovating his house and had no room for his carpet so brought it to a match. Rostov won 4-0, so it was declared a lucky charm and the fans were rewarded with the ability to purchase the kit. So far over 500 orders have been filled.

14. Barnsley FC and Celtic FC both offered female fans free sanitary products at their stadiums this season in an inclusive move that was welcomed by supporters.

13. Player of the match wall from Super Rugby’s Tokyo Sunwolves. Fans fill out the player wall with their selection after every game making for a unique visual display in the fan precinct. 

12. This letter that Norwich City Football Club wrote to a young fan sums up the importance of always going the extra mile for fans. 

11. Here’s a clever addition from the Esports world whereby AZ Alkmaar gave away free player posters with autograph sections in them at an esports and sport collaboration event. 

10. Sheffield football fans were able to take a journey into Sheffield’s prolific football heritage, with a new walking app called “The Home of Football” that introduced them to the people and places who made the city.

9. Arsenal Women’s football team give young fans the opportunity to shadow the photographer, kit manager, program designer, media rep and other club roles as part of this ‘Junior Member Takeover’ initiative. 

8. Fans of the Victoria HarbourCats in the West Coast League are now able to watch live baseball action from the deck of an open-top double decker bus which overlooks the field offering a truly unique experience at Victoria’s Royal Athletic Park.

7. At a Danish Superliga match between Hobro IK and FC Copenhagen the Hobro club sponsor raffled the chance to watch the game pitch-side in a jacuzzi with beers. Not a bad spot to take it all in at -4C!

6. Teams and venues like the Detroit Lions and Ford Field in the NFL are tapping into new fan engagement and revenue opportunities by having fans arrive at the ground earlier for early bird offers as well as staying longer post game for the ‘fifth quarter’ by offering cheap F&B incentives, live music and games from around the grounds. 
 
5. Can’t go wrong as a fan being tattooed by a player of your favourite team. That’s just what one player from Brentford FC did to a fan earlier this year. 
4. The 49ers FIT gym. Which team will be next to bring this concept to the $81B global fitness market to engage sports fans? 
3. The Virginia Tech Hokies pre-game show and player entrance at Lane Stadium to Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ may not be a new tradition for college football but this video offers a new perspective with this behind the scenes reel that illustrates the supreme loyalty and devotion these fans have for Hokies.

2. Colchester United received an email from a local youth side to see if they could wish the team well this season so they said decided to do something a little extra and found out about every player and their attributes and then their Colchester United first team equivalent wrote back to pass on a good luck message. Fantastic simple idea.
1. Rochdale held a make your own Emirates FA Cup trophy for kids to design and decorate. You can’t go wrong with kids arts and crafts to round out the 100 either!
So there you have it.
A pretty impressive list of fan engagement strategies and fan experience insights from across the globe highlighting the outstanding work being done to entertain and delight fans in various parts of the world.
100 (actually there’s well over that as I’ve combined a few here and there) truly exceptional strategies but what have I missed? What was happening for you as a fan in your neck of the woods?
Let me know at @MrBlairHughes on Twitter or on LinkedIn. 
Thanks and have a great holiday break. 

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