fans

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

200+ Fan Engagement Ideas To Entertain, Educate And Connect Sports Fans During COVID19

G’day everyone, I hope that this latest blog post and infographic finds you well especially given the unprecedented circumstances we’re all in at the moment.

How is everyone going with everything at the moment? It’s a pretty stressful and overwhelming time for everyone but it seems that we’re all coping pretty well with self-isolation, COVID19 concerns and everything else that’s going on in our lives. Whose missing live sport? The smells and sounds of the game-day? It will be all back before we know it.

Like millions of others, both my wife and I have lost work but life does go on and you have to keep moving. I’m deeply saddened to hear about plenty of my hard-working friends and colleagues from the sports business world who are struggling at the moment because of redundancies or lost income. We’re all in this together and things will get better. I know how hard these reps have all worked for fans in stadiums all over the world so they should be very proud of what they’ve achieved and hopefully will be able to come back to their clubs or venues when the time is right. I’m in the same boat and while there’s not much I can do to help, all I can say is that I’m always happy to listen and talk to anyone if they feel like a virtual chat or a catch-up.

It’s important that we check in on one another at this time but also that we stay active and focused mentally and so because the former school teacher in me can’t just sit still and not want to help, I’ve put together another free quick fan engagement infographic which will help global to grassroots clubs all over the world.

I scoured the web looking at what over 400 global teams were doing for fan engagement content ideas at this time and was blown away at the creativity and innovation coming from these hard-working teams at this time to still provide educational and entertaining content to connect fans.

From mental fitness webinars, kids activity workbooks and recipe creations to Zoom backgrounds, bitmoji’s and fitness challenges it’s been very impressive to see how teams across the world have adapted during COVID19 to provide fans of all ages, but especially young fans with ways to stay connected to the game and their teams.

I have therefore attached below another FREE fan engagement resource that I have put together along with the bullet points of all the ideas for easy access below too.

I have also added the images to my 8000+ strong fan engagement Pinterest board which has an abundance of ideas that have come in useful for teams over the years. Visit the FE Pinterest here.

Also if you haven’t seen any of the other fan engagement infographics that I’ve put together then you can find them here.

If something doesn’t make sense then please just ask and I will assist you with more information about what the bullet point represents.

As with the majority of things I do in the fan engagement space, I don’t ask for much in return for my services as I care about young fans and making the best fan experience possible. I love what I get to do and as a fan first and foremost myself this will never change. All I ever ask is that you respect me and my work and let me know if it came in handy and reach out if you found it helpful.

The best part about what I’ve been able to do here has been to network, help out and meet likeminded people in sports biz from all across the globe who one day I can introduce my soon to be born child to your team and stadium and not just go on my global stadium journeys by myself. With a baby girl on the way in July, I can’t wait to be doing this and instill in them my love for stadium architecture, trying diverse F&B and catching different sports in different parts of the globe. With COVID19 going on and no real end in sight, it’s important that we understand that we all have so much to look forward to and for me, I can’t wait to welcome my first baby and soon to be sports fan into the world.

Thank you for reading and I hope that this free resource comes in handy for you.

Have a good week, keep smiling and stay positive.

This will all be over soon and fans will be back on the Kiss Cam, cheering their teams on and also complaining about the price and quality of stadium F&B in no time!

200+ Fan Engagement Ideas To Entertain, Educate And Connect Sports Fans During COVID19

  • Check in on elderly members/fans
  • Word search
  • Stay Home Bingo card
  • Spot the ball
  • Colour in the player/club emblem/jersey
  • Draw the player/ground/emblem
  • Throw back pictures/moments/memories
  • Nominate a team
  • Challenges
  • Zoom wallpapers
  • Team/Player wallpapers
  • Podcasts
  • Classic calls/flashbacks
  • Play back old games
  • Coronavirus hand washing techniques/instructions
  • Deliver care packages to fans
  • VR ground visits
  • YouTube/Video shows/recaps and rewinds
  • Hero of the team (emergency services fan shout outs)
  • Feel Good moments/pics/videos
  • Art competitions
  • Story Time. Players read kids books/stories to young fans
  • Countdowns and votes (best jersey/game/player etc.)
  • Connect 4 Mascot challenges
  • Google Home to engage with fans at home
  • Photo of the day
  • Family Nominations
  • Q&A’s
  • On This Day
  • Skills challenges
  • Fitness/work out/training tips
  • Team commentate fans skills/videos
  • GIF challenges
  • Twitch e-sports gaming challenges
  • Re-watch classic games
  • Share your fan story
  • Utilising fan generated content
  • Repurposing merch for medical supplies
  • Instagram/FB Live with players/team
  • Beat the clock online jigsaw puzzle challenges
  • Emergency/Health services branded merch
  • #FromTheArchives
  • Old player profiles
  • Choose your ultimate team lineups
  • Mental Health Messages and Tips
  • Classic game replays
  • What Self-Iso Personality Are You?
  • Quizzes
  • Polls
  • Social games
  • Replay games via Twitter updates
  • Club Spotify music playlists
  • What are the players up to updates
  • CEO messages/emails to fans
  • Player video messages to fans
  • Game day dress up
  • Twitter/FB/Insty take overs
  • Send letters to the team
  • Player pen-pals
  • Dogs of the club/team/fans
  • Activity sheets/kids worksheets
  • Legend Q&A with past player
  • The People’s Presser
  • Ultimate Quaran Team
  • Memes
  • Pixelated pick the players
  • My ‘Insert Team’ Story
  • Top 100 games/moments/memories/players/jerseys
  • Virtual Match day Predictions
  • Random Acts of Kindness
  • Inside the training session
  • 60 seconds Qs with the player/coach
  • Fan profiles
  • TikToks
  • Tattoo profiles of the players
  • Live Q&A
  • Choose your ultimate fantasy team
  • Match day program flashbacks
  • Fun Facts
  • Virtual autographs
  • Match day merch offers
  • Merchandise daily deals
  • Fan Virtual Meet Up
  • Online Quizzes Ex. Kahootz
  • Archival footage
  • Free access to exclusive content
  • Cooking and recipe shows
  • Online fan party
  • Mini documentaries
  • Exclusive special merch
  • Good News Stories
  • Stay Home Messages
  • Send us your crazy graphic design requests
  • Guess the player names from the emoji’s
  • Bracket challenges
  • Charity Challenges
  • Merch giveaways
  • Stadium wallpapers
  • Your Stadium Memory
  • Virtual Game Days
  • Personalised jersey wallpapers
  • Player fashion shows
  • CRIBS- player home lockdown version
  • Players/team letters to fans/members
  • #OpenDoorChallenge
  • Fan Art Fridays
  • #GetYourKitOn
  • Donate A Membership
  • Retro plays of the week
  • Stat attacks
  • Classic game breakdowns with ex players/coaches
  • Specials on training range merch
  • Stories behind the big moments
  • Team/Player Yoga
  • Animal Crossing jerseys
  • Surprise fans with calls/videos
  • Individual Training Programs
  • Food Bank Appeals
  • Name The Goal/Try/Moment
  • Show and Tell (Show Us Your Sports Cave)
  • Backyard Skills Challenges
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Community hero of the week
  • Home Workouts
  • Old photos from yesteryear
  • Your Call From Home- Fans commentating big moments
  • Show Your Colours- send in pics in
  • Team colouring in books
  • Guess The Player- Who Am I?
  • What Happens Next?
  • Fan discounts for team sponsors- support local businesses
  • Thank You Messages to fans
  • What comes to mind when you see this kit?
  • Your Birth Month and First Letter of your name = Your Career/Name etc.
  • Find a word
  • Scoreboard challenge
  • Word Challenges: Team scattergories
  • Spot The Difference
  • Share Your Ticket Stub Memory
  • Guess which season these jerseys are from
  • Trading Card Flashbacks
  • Retro Team List Tuesday
  • Share favourite merch items
  • Whose Tattoo?
  • Isolation Task/Name
  • Mental Health/Fitness webinars
  • Fan video messages of support for the team
  • Player/FOH profiles
  • Alternative design random jerseys
  • Design a banner
  • Old news stories from papers
  • Fan/Member of the week
  • Animated GIFs
  • Cartoons
  • This Week: Run a schedule of what’s on for fans
  • Inspirational quotes
  • Anything mascot related: Colouring in, wallpapers, cut outs
  • Virtual Happy Hour’s knock off beers/drinks with team/fans
  • Live chat with a former star
  • Share baby photos of players/team
  • Build the ultimate stadium meal
  • Thank you shout outs to health care workers
  • Game plan breakdowns- show attack/defence plays
  • Team/Player pays it forward with free coffees/meals for members/health care workers at local businesses
  • Team maze challenges
  • Reading challenges
  • Fans/Members nominate a local business that deserves recognition
  • Virtual cheerleading/dance sessions for fitness/kids
  • What’s in the player’s fridge?
  • Hand washing technique cards
  • Player Bitmojis
  • Art contests
  • Make up tutorials
  • Fan challenges- draw players/ask a question for social live
  • Virtual radiothon
  • Art workshops
  • Sudoku worksheets
  • Video chat with the mascot
  • Kids recipe book
  • Write letters/notes of support along with the team to health care workers
  • Showcase players hidden talents
  • Showcase fans/members hidden talents
  • Promote fans/members of the club local businesses to the fan base
  • ‘I Stay Home For….’ Cards
  • Community Support Roster- show who the team supports
  • Paper Bag Puppets
  • Write a letter to the mascot
  • Rivalry Recaps
  • Mascot/Player printable cut outs
  • Group fitness classes/steps challenges
  • Virtual Vacations frames for fans
  • Stay At Home Match Notes/Sheet
  • Make a player out of household items cardboard etc.
  • Virtual watch parties of classic old games
  • Where’s the mascot (where’s wally etc.)
  • Fan hall of fame
  • Guess the attendance of the retro game
  • Name the score of the classic game
  • Mascot trading cards
  • Send in fan messages for the team to go up in the sheds for their return
  • Fan call from the CEO
  • Write a match day review from a past game- writing challenge
  • Printable posters
  • Letterbox drops of merch/letters from players to members houses
  • Junior fan of the day during COVID19
  • Fan caricatures
  • Team DJ doing a set live on social
  • Junior reporter commentates a classic game
  • Kids only fan forum
  • Kids only team presser
  • Members/fans merch lucky dip live
  • Memory games
  • Virtual members wall
  • VR ticket/merch/mascot hunts
  • Kids/parents fans/members only fitness/health session live by team
  • Stay at home pass
  • Printable trophies and cups
  • Promote fans membership loyalty i.e. 5, 10, 20 years memberships
  • Harness, use and showcase fan generated content
  • Print out club size charts
  • First game day at home certificates
  • Game day memorabilia auctions/giveaways
  • Fan/member appreciation day/week
  • Make a team flag at home
  • At home ‘cams’ team filters for Oblivious cam, Kiss cam, etc.

 

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.

AUS LEISURE MAG: The Best In The West: Bankwest Stadium Parramatta Eels NRL Fan Experience Review

The game-day fan experience continues to rapidly evolve on a daily basis with global venues going all out for sports fans through enhancements to areas such as hospitality, seating, catering, technology and accessibility all in an effort to create better fan-friendly destinations and unforgettable experiences as well as further drive new revenue opportunities.

Recent fan experience developments to venues have for instance seen the addition of a craft beer microbrewery at Tottenham Hotspur’s dazzling new stadium in London while Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles focused on a foodies experience for LAFC fans by including concession items from some of the best local chefs and restaurants in LA. Meanwhile, under construction venues such as Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas will feature a retractable roof as part of their climate-controllable venue while Hungary’s new Puskás Arena in Budapest will include a running track perched above the stands with panoramic views over the city. These impressive modern stadium designs are just a few features which highlight that it’s truly never been a more exciting time to be a sports fan as venues around the world constantly seek to improve the fan experience for spectators to get them off the couch and into venues.

Another venue putting fans and the fan experience front and centre on game day through a raft of impressive features is Australia’s latest major venue, Parramatta’s spectacular Bankwest Stadium situated on the banks of the Parramatta River in Western Sydney. In my latest fan experience review here for AUS Leisure I take a look at the impressive NSW Government funded Bankwest Stadium from a recent Parramatta Eels NRL match here to highlight both how they are achieving best practice fan experience and the lessons that other venues can learn to improve and enhance their own venue fan experiences.

Transport

The fan journey often begins with either the ticket buying experience or with transport to the game and as I began my journey to the venue via a train from Sydney’s Central Station it was instantly impressive to see integrated ticketing in effect with free public transport included as part of every match day ticket. The venue is well serviced by multiple public transport options such as trains, ferries and buses with my train only taking 25 minutes to arrive into the Parramatta Transport Interchange in the Parramatta CBD. It was then just a short walk to the ground through the bustling Church Street precinct that was heavily decorated in Parramatta Eels colours. Navigating the route to a venue can also sometimes be difficult however the addition of bright pink way-finding signage and helpful Transport for NSW support staff provided extra assistance for fans to easily locate the stadium. It was good to see that bike parking racks are also located just out the front of the gates highlighting that there’s multiple ways to access the venue on game days.

Atmosphere

After a seamless entry through the ticket gates, a thorough bag search and an unexpected but very welcome positive greeting from a jovial security guard, I made my way into the ground and was instantly blown away by the incredible views and close proximity that every seat seems to have of the field of play. As kick off approached and the venue was packed with loud and vocal NRL fans, the deafening roars and cheers elevated the noise to an unprecedented atmosphere in an Australian venue. It felt like a wall of sound had been created from the 30,000 fans packed in here so close to the immaculate turf which looked like lush emerald velvet. These thoughts were echoed by Parramatta Eels tragic and Ladies Who League founder Mary Konstantopoulos who stated to me at the match The fan experience is exceptional; you are so close to the action and the roar of the crowd sends chills down your spine. Personally though I also love how the history of the Eels is still reflected in the stadium through the Ray Price Statue and the stands named after Eels legends – it’s a nod to the past whilst providing plenty of hope for the future.”.

Architecture

Venue architect Populous, operators VenuesLive and construction company LendLease have all worked tremendously together to create an outstanding venue that has a variety of clever features such as large open dwell spaces for fans to navigate the concourses and also mingle next to colourful decor that’s still in view of the field. Walking around the venue was easy due to the clear way-finding signs and there is a good use of space inside the concourses with stroller bays for parents to easily park their prams in a secure area under the stands. Outside the stadium there is a kids playground area, basketball court and a street workout gym which all represented a smart use of venue space as well as ensuring that the local community has access to these features whenever they wish. While the venue is very much accessible for all needs, another inclusive approach has been to include unisex toilets which is just another way venues are thinking about looking after all of their spectators and making sure they feel valued on game day.

Seating

Bankwest Stadium CEO Daryl Kerry stated that “This is a stadium that was designed and built for the fans with the event experience front of mind and it’s clear that one of the many highlights of the rectangular seating design of the venue is that every spectator feels so close to the action on the field that they can almost reach out and grab the turf from their seats. It became apparent pretty quickly as I criss-crossed my way around the venue that there’s not a bad seat in the house with the views of the field simply breathtaking no matter where you are seated. The high back seats are also spacious and comfortable while the seat rake means you’re pretty much on top of the action and with the atmosphere pumping throughout the day you feel as though you’re much more apart of the spectacle than in other grounds.  

F&B

Upon checking out the concession outlets and kiosks inside the venue, it was evident that Bankwest Stadium has listened to sports fans as there are a host of clever catering additions and incentives here that already have fans singing the venue’s praises. For instance, game day essentials like sauce and beer trays are free, Bankwest cardholders get 10% off concession items while fan first pricing is in effect with seven key food items like pies and hot chips available for under $5. Moreover, the cost of beer here is closest to the cheapest in any Australian sporting venue starting at $6.50 and even includes craft options such as Furphy and Little Creatures brews which will appease beer drinkers

It was positive to see a focus on sustainability to reduce waste with biodegradable cutlery available instead of plastic and that the venue had researched and identified the changing consumer habits and needs of fans with both quality vegan and gluten free food options all available for fans to purchase. As stadium F&B options continue to improve globally for fans it was exciting to see the focus on flavours that reflected the diversity of the local Western Sydney community as all fans tastes have been catered for through the addition of the ‘High Street’ speciality concession outlets that featured everything from Chinese and BBQ meals to seafood and health food dishes which all looked substantial and delicious when I surveyed the outlets before kick off.

Technology

From the crisp and vocal sound coming through the new PA system to the super fast free Wi-Fi, Bankwest Stadium utilises an impressive array of modern technology that’s both interactive and immersive for fans to experience.

The first things to notice when entering the grandstands is how much clearer the sound is from the speakers while the eye-catching and colourful LED ribbons and HD screens create a thrilling tribal atmosphere as they flash out team hype reels and sponsor content across the stands. Sports business leaders TLA Australia and Game Changer MVP have been responsible for revolutionising the match day experience at BankWest Stadium through the in-game fan engagement and entertainment with TLA Australia Head of Events and Consultancy, James Ward, saying “Through our collaboration with Game Changer MVP we are combining global expertise with local knowledge and experience to deliver some amazing content for fans at Bankwest Stadium’.

Across the day I used close to 5GB of data with ease on the stadium network with no drop outs or re-sign while the Parramatta’s screen content and entertainment was electrifying and had the fans in the stands pumped up throughout the match. The Sport LED lighting is also going to be impressive to see here as the lights can be turned on and off with ease for synchronised light and sound shows.

Fan Engagement

With just three games in for the venue, hirers are still finding their feet with how to make use of the space however the Parramatta Eels put on a first class display for fan engagement by providing activities for fans like a photo booth, face painting and even a living statue artist dressed in Eels colours which was a new one to the fan engagement photo opportunity ideas book. The Eels members bar was also a highlight of the venue where Blue and Gold Army Eels members were able to mingle together in their own dedicated fan space that was decorated in Parra livery.

Hospitality

Having canvassed the concourse and general seating areas, I made my way around to the Western Stand to inspect the corporate hospitality facilities of which on first look seemed there appeared to be an abundance of diverse premium options for guests. While there are indeed plenty of quality lounges, suites and clubs providing both private and premium experiences for networking and dining with gourmet F&B and spectacular views right on top of the field, the jewel in the hospitality crown at Bankwest Stadium is the exclusive and exciting ‘Field Club’. This ‘money cant buy experience’ located at the edge of the playing field allows guests to see the players warming up before they walk through the Field Club and onto the ground which combined with the outstanding views brings patrons so incredibly close to the action like never before.

From the diversity in F&B and the smart architectural design to the unique hospitality and the immersive tech, Bankwest Stadium is a spectacular venue that sets a very high bar for the sports fan experience. This is a world class fan first venue and all stakeholders from the NSW Government down should be applauded for the attention to detail that has gone into its creation as well as the focus on going the extra mile for fans with all the little touches. A Bankwest Stadium game day is an essential bucket list visit for any sports fan and one can only hope that Australian venues continue to put fans and improvements to the fan experience front of mind and look to this venue when creating new event spaces.

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.

ABC Radio Interview: Fun Police Curbing Sport Fan Behaviour? (21/6/19)

A riveting chat with security personnel and fans from across Australia.

Talking about the current AFL fan and crowd issues, security, behaviour awareness officers and more.

Listen in here: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/overnights/fun-police-curbing-sport-fan-behaviour/11233648

The Top Aussie Craft Brewery Beer Gear List and Top Tips For Craft Beer Merchandising

If it’s one thing I enjoy most about the global craft beer community, it’s getting out on the open road and checking out our breweries across the country and overseas. I’ve had the opportunity to take in craft breweries in places like India, USA, England, Japan and all over Australia and the one thing that never lets them down is their emphasis on supporting their local communities and the fact that they all seem to love what they do too as they seem to come across as positive people always up for a chat.

Tasting the diverse selection of beers, meeting the staff, learning about their local community and then grabbing some merchandise to take home and promote these breweries is what I and I bet you love to do too. There’s something special and valuable about supporting local businesses and being loyal to your local community and by buying some beers or in this case beer gear it goes a long way to promoting and spreading the good gospel of that brewery, having some nice gear to wear or use as well as supporting that particular local community.

This article was one I’ve been thinking about doing for a while. Whenever I travel to breweries I always love checking out the merch or gift shop to see the tee designs, the interesting accessories and the take home beer selections. I mean who doesn’t like a good gift shop anywhere right!

However I’m often let down by poor designs, run of the mill logos on black tee’s, same old same old accessories and of course…..stock standard logos on stubby coolers. Unfortunately it’s quite often boring, poorly designed without a graphic designer, doesn’t fit with their audience, unoriginal, doesn’t work with the logo or colours and just looks like it could be a heck of a lot better. It’s important to note that merch is always a secondary thing as these are local businesses with staff doing a thousand jobs all subject to budgets and resources and of course demand from consumers. However for breweries it is also important to keep in mind that there’s craft beer geeks out there who want to buy your beer merch, want to buy quality designs and want to buy creative and unique items to be able to promote you. Harness the power of these craft beer fans and put the effort and quality into your craft beer merchandise. Beer geeks and brewery visitors will love it and it will result in sales.

Here are some simple tips for craft beer merchandising:

  • Use a qualified graphic designer.
  • Understand your audience and craft brewery demographics and target those audiences.
  • Use a graphic designer working or who has experience working with craft beer/breweries/beer world
  • Think about artist collaborations especially with local artists in your community.
  • Seasonal merch ranges are important. Think winter/summer.
  • Get creative with merch. Think funky, unique, creative design and merch ideas.
  • Always have a gift voucher option available. Did you know Blockbuster RIP invented the gift card too? Read more about the benefits and history of gift vouchers here and here.
  • Think about your female fans and ensure you get items like tee’s in female sizes.
  • Don’t discount kids/baby merch. Parents will grab these as will others to use as gifts.
  • Think local. Who can you get involved in your local community to work with.
  • Think about what beer fans/consumers actually need or want as merchandise.
  • Have an online ecommerce merch shop. You’re missing out on 24/7 sales otherwise. Top shelf website design and UX is an absolute must as well.
  • Have the merch visible and well presented in a stand in your brewery.
  • Have stickers available to either give out or to sell to people.

Take the topic of stickers for instance. Every brewery I go to I always ask to grab a sticker to slap on my LandCruiser and promote the breweries wherever I go. Now when breweries don’t have one available for free or to even sell me as part of their merch range, I think to myself you’ve just missed a huge opportunity for someone to promote you for free.

Case in point, a few months back I was in the Gold Coast region and went into one new brewery to try their brews. At the end of the pour in a taproom with no one else in it I politely asked if I could have a sticker and was rudely and aggressively denied one because they weren’t for sale (also the oddest customer service brewery experience in 2019 so far!). That’s totally fine but that brewery is missing out on an opportunity to allow people to easily promote them….FOR FREE! A roll of quality stickers are inexpensive and can be used as merch, as giveaways at festivals and for all manner of other purposes to promote your brewery.

In a country of 550 competing breweries where having a point of difference and standing out has become even more vital (especially in crowded markets) there has never been a more important time to understand your audiences, highlight and up-sell your USP’s to customers and simply give your beer fans what they’re after. Having a sticker is something so simple to create that will go a long way in terms of promotion and marketing, positive engagement with beer geeks as well as being an easy revenue opportunity. Don’t overthink it, just do it.

So while recently scanning about 200 odd of the 500+ craft breweries in Australia I decided to do an analysis of their merch stores and was surprised by a heap of genius merch ideas and quality designs.

Here’s my selection (in no particular order) for what are some of the smartest, most creative, useful and interesting merchandise ideas from Australia’s craft breweries (well about half of them anyway!).

  1. Balter Lorikeet cap, beer opener and beer duffle.

2. Capital Brewing Cap

3. Newstead Brewing Co Beer Money gift voucher

4. BeerFarm Mug 

5. Hop Nation beer glasses

6. Stomping Ground Beer Dealer Cooler/Koozie 

7. Philter Brewing ‘Seductively Beer’ cap

8. Fixation Hop Tee 

9. Kaiju Beer Women’s Meta Hop tee, beach towel and ‘Hip Hops’ trading cards!

10. Young Henry’s enamel pins

11. Black Hops crew socks

12. Gage Roads x Jamie Browne collab hat/tee

13. Land & Sea Brewery ‘The Canimal’….ok so it’s a tinnie but their designs are damn fine and I had to include a beer on this list as we all take one of them home from our brewery visits!

14. Moon Dog Summer Survival Pack that includes Old Mate Pale Ale, Love Tap Lager, Beer Can, sunnies, stubby holder and some sweet sweatbands!

15. Stone and Wood Ingredients Tee. The old faithful. I’ve had about 3 of these over the last 10 years or so.

16. 3 Ravens ‘Juicy Tee’. Just hot! 

17. Boat Rocker RamJet gift set. Smart idea at a good price!

 

So there you have a very one sided, beer geek biased, personally chosen list of what I think are some clever merch ideas from our great Aussie craft breweries. It might not be to everyone’s liking but there’s lots of ideas to like here and plenty to get colleagues thinking about what might work for their audiences and beer fans at their brewery. However, as always with my work if you have seen something that should be added to the list or something that’s worth talking about then please touch base and I’ll take a squizz and give it a shout out. 

Thanks for reading.

Blair Hughes

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 here at
www.MrBlairHughes.com (I’m also brand ambassador at Two Bays Brewing Co running events and sales- come say hi at an event or the taproom sometime!)

 

Putting Fan Engagement to the Test: Blair Hughes Experiences how Cricket Australia put fans first during the 2019 Sri Lanka Cricket Test at the Gabba Brisbane’

Across the globe the sports business continues to face many challenges to get bums back into stadium seats both as a result of the competition from the at-home TV experience and new leisure activities combined with the fact that audiences have evolved and are seeking more bang for their buck on game days.

To combat this, teams and venues are constantly creating innovative fan engagement solutions that are seeing positive outcomes for all stakeholders. Whether it be technological advancements such as Manchester City’s augmented reality game day program, the proliferation of craft beer amongst venues concession offerings or Celtic FC initiating the inclusive approach of providing female fans with free sanitary products at Celtic Park, the in-venue fan experience globally continues to be rapidly transformed and enhanced for supporters on match day.

One example of a sporting organization who are reaping the rewards of following a fan first approach is Cricket Australia whose events have consistently demonstrated best practice fan engagement which has afforded cricket fans with exceptional experiences that go above and beyond, particularly with regards to unique money can’t buy activations. This fan experience review of the recent first test match from Brisbane will therefore provide an insight into Cricket Australia’s approach to fan engagement and explore the lessons that other sporting organisations and venues can learn to ensure that all patrons have a positive game day fan experience.

Transport

Starting and ending the fan journey seamlessly is integral to a positive fan experience and it’s something that Cricket Australia and Stadiums Queensland, through The Gabba, do very well as all fans are entitled to free public transport to and from the ground on Cricket Australia match days. Taking advantage of this I boarded a Council bus at 11am from the suburban outskirts of Brisbane that took me all the way up to the front gates of the famous cricket ground in turn saving $5.80 on transport costs. As a result of this integrated transport ticket offer, fans were able to enjoy a clean, air-conditioned and fast ride to and from the ground with ease while also saving some money which is always a quality way to start any match day.

Event Presentation

Arriving at the Gabba 90 minutes before the first ball on what was a typically hot and humid Brisbane summer’s day it was instantly impressive to see the fan zone set up complete with it’s pumping atmosphere and colourful event presentation that featured Cricket Australia branded test match banners that were adorning the Gabba gates.

Security

Security personnel are often the first match day event staff that fans interact with when entering the venue so it is vital that a positive interaction sets the tone for a fan having an enjoyable experience and this was evident at The Gabba on this occasion. In this heightened security climate it was good to see that the event was well aware of not making this feel like a ‘security event’ as fans were greeted with a friendly smile, welcome and hello from security staff who were present at the gates wanding down patrons and checking fans bags before entry.

Technology

On the technology front both Cricket Australia’s ‘Matchday’ app and Stadiums Queensland’s ‘MegaFan’ app provided fans coming to the game with all the information they needed with handy fan experience features including venue maps, live transport timetables and seating views to video replays of key moments and score updates from the game all of which helped to ensure a positive experience for every fan.

Fan Engagement

Cricket Australia places a large emphasis on fan engagement with regular quirky trivia questions on the big screens as well as a sideline-seating feature, which sees a roving group of lucky fans selected to sit in their own exclusive section on the field behind the boundary ropes. The addition of the roving face painting ‘Colour Crew’ was also a clever feature of the game day fan engagement offering that enabled them to move around the ground and paint the faces of Australian and Sri Lankan fans throughout the day.

The centerpiece of the fan engagement offering here however is the impressively presented “Cricket Australia Pool Deck” which represents a unique fan experience in terms of the atmosphere and excitement that it generates for fans.

Designed in conjunction with sports agency TLA Worldwide, the “Pool Deck” activation allows close to 500 fans over the course of the day to cool off in the pool and sees fans first sign a safety waiver at the registration desk where they are presented with a free tropical towel to use as well as a wristband before they enter the pool’s sparkling water to cool off and enjoy an unrivalled view to take in the action on the field.

TLA’s senior account manager Cameron McFarlane noted that “Cricket Australia’s plan with the pool was to appeal to new and existing fans, giving them another reason to attend matches at the Gabba, creating an exceptional experience that would reward the existing fan base as well as creating memorable experiences for new audiences at the cricket. The tiered seating and shaded lounge chairs result in the best seats in the house, aligning with Cricket Australia’s strategy to facilitate social interaction for fans to enjoy throughout their day at the cricket in an accessible environment.”

The little touches were also evident everywhere in the “Pool Deck” with exquisite event presentation and fan experience features including abundant shaded areas and tables, deckchairs, tropical plants and colourful cushions, sunscreen, phone charging and most importantly the incredible views from the deck which are quite simply right up there as the best spot to watch a game from in at any Australian stadium.

Community

As a result of a devastating dought affecting many parts of the country especially in Queensland it was inspiring to see the focus that Cricket Australia put on raising awareness and vital funds for drought stricken farmers especially as the annual Brisbane test match attracts so many people from the bush. The rural focus included volunteers collecting donations for Rural Aid, a mechanical bull ride for kids of all ages to have a ride on as well as a live site that featured a giant TV screen and numerous hay bales for fans to sit on all of which made for a pleasant family friendly feel outside the ground. Even more impressive to hear after the test match was that Cricket Australia repurposed 25,000L of water from the pool to a Queensland dairy farm that had been affected by severe drought.

Hospitality

Cricket Australia’s test match hospitality offering at the Gabba leaves other sporting codes in its wake with a variety of options available to entertain fans at the match. An example of this is ‘The Century Lounge’ fan experience in the Gabba’s Legends Room which was an exceptional experience not least for its delectable culinary offering but also because of the creative and useful gifts that each attendee received. In a sporting world where sponsor’s fan engagement activations are often cheap and useless items that are given away to fans it was impressive to see that the focus on quality and creativity with fans here receiving wood framed sunglasses, a test match wool kit stubby cooler as well as a Cricket Australia branded USB phone battery charger all of which were both memorable and bound to be reused again and again by these cricket fans.

Food and Beverage

While the Gabba faces increasing pressure from fans to upgrade its facilities to rival other Australian venues, it was positive to see the new additions and diverse range of gourmet food and beverages which were on sale some of which included an Asian food cart selling dim sims and pork buns as well as the new Gourmet Grill that offered vegetarian curries, pork belly burgers and loaded fries. Chilled slushies and fruit smoothies kept fans cool while the ‘Parma for a Farmer’ chicken parmigiana meal deal was a creative and effective community minded approach to raise funds for Queensland’s drought affected farmers.

The Extra Touches

With sunscreen often being expensive, forgotten to be brought in to the stadium or even applied by fans in the first place it was good to see that both Cricket Australia and the Gabba are always putting its fans first as free sunscreen stations were scattered throughout the ground to ensure that fans were protected from the sun’s harsh over a long hot day one at this test match.

Cricket Australia’s test match experience at The Gabba highlights an exceptional example of best practice fan experience that delivers consistency, value and quality in every facet not least as a result of it’s creative fan engagement activations, community initiatives, hospitality options, addition of smart extra touches as well as simply providing fans with the key information that they need to have a positive experience at the venue on match days.

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

Brisbane Lions and The Gabba’s ‘The Verandah’ Fan Experience

Across the globe major venues and sporting teams are constantly working on enhancing the fan experience for sports fans to deliver them extra bang for their hard-earned buck on game day. Whether it be from gourmet food options at MetLife Stadium, sensory rooms at Watford FC’s Vicarage Road or Celtic Park providing free sanitary products for female fans, the fan experience is an integral part of major events that these stakeholders are focussing more deeply on improving.

It’s an arms race between venues as areas like food and beverage, technology, fan engagement and amenities improve in an effort to better service fans at the venue, increase revenue through unique new opportunities and overall make fans feel more valued. One particular area of the fan experience that has seen a large focus in recent times has been the addition of social seating spaces that provide fans with incredible views, gourmet food and drink options and unique experiences with examples ranging from Yankee Stadium’s ‘Judge’s Chambers’, The SCG beach, TIAA Bank Field’s cabana pool and The MCG’s ‘The Lawn’. A recent addition to this list is also the Brisbane Lions’ outstanding ‘The Verandah presented by Hyundai’ exclusive space which is back for it’s second year at The Gabba.

I took in the Lions match against West Coast Eagles and ‘The Verandah’ experience on Saturday night and was very impressed with this authentically Queensland space that is offering fans a unique new way to watch a Lions game in an unrivalled position on a purpose built veranda at the base of the eastern end of the ground’s goal posts.

First impressions are extremely vital however the well-presented area exceeded my expectations and was alive with tropical Queensland vibes and colour as soon as I entered. The addition of comfy bean bags, sun lounges and chairs all enabled fans to grab a front row spot with superior views of the action as the Lions ran away with the match in the opening round.

The atmosphere in The Verandah was pumping throughout the night as people protected their cups of ice-cold beverages when the goals continued to rain in from the Lions. It’s a very relaxed vibe too so while it attracts the Instagram crowd of people who want to be seen, jerseys are also encouraged, as are shorts, as it was a particularly humid night in Brisbane so this is certainly an inclusive space where every fan is made to feel welcome.

A distinctively styled open air space like this is another example of how to both attract new fans to a Lions game at the Gabba as well as delight and entertain existing Lions in a fun social space with the best seats in the house. This is truly a fan experience that is worth taking in at a Lions game and represents exceptional value for money for fans, as it’s only $70 per ticket or $40 for a member upgrade.

At the end of the day a happy fan is a fan who has had a seamless and enjoyable fan journey and feels valued by stakeholders for attending the match day, therefore venues and teams are consistently applying positive and exciting new approaches that puts the fan and the fan experience front and centre. The Lions and the Gabba have created a fun, entertaining and colourful space here to attract new fans which other venues and teams should take a closer look at in an effort to attract new audiences and delight existing fans.

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.

Macquarie Sports Radio Interview: Does Blair Hughes Have The Best Job In The World? (16/3/2019)

Radio interview with the Macquarie Sports Radio team back in March.

No I don’t have the best job in the world or in sport but I’m happy and have put myself out there over the years to create experiences, learn new skills and meet people all over the world. Everything I’ve done in my life across sport, education, digital and the music industry to now loving life working in craft beer has been about experiences, learning, networking and trying new things.

Anyone can get out and do what I’ve done. It’s nothing special. I’m nothing special. I’m lucky with what I’ve been able to achieve and there’s still a lot more I want to do. I love meeting people, learning and trying to challenge myself. My legacy is that I want to be able to sit down with heaps of grandkids one day and recite all the amazing experiences I’ve had and be proud of that. If people like what I do or learn something small from me then thats a bonus. 

Thanks for listening and supporting me.

Interview here: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/overnights/fun-police-curbing-sport-fan-behaviour/11233648

 

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