mrblairhughes

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.

100+ Ticketing Tips, Tricks, Ideas and Incentives for Sports Teams and Venues

Hello, 

Please find this latest resource on ticketing useful in helping growing your fan bases and getting more bums on seats.

The list provides 100+ tips, tricks, ideas and incentives that will be useful for grassroots and global teams to offer interesting and innovative ways to acquire and retain fans and win back lapsed ones too. Many of these strategies have already proven successful for many stakeholders across the globe and are not limited just to sport either.

If you would like a hand understanding any of these concepts or ideas please feel free to touch base and I will be happy to assist you or point you in the right direction for more information.

As always this is about education in the sports business so feel free to download, print and share with your colleagues and also please let me know if you tried something and saw a successful outcome as I would love to hear that and I can pass it along to other teams, venues or showcase it to highlight your success.

The list ranges from ideas and incentives that are across the spectrum of areas before, during and after the fan journey starts and range from transport to pets and even some quirky random ideas in between…..remember it’s always important to look outside the box and get a bit creative when it comes to ticketing.

All the best and touch base if you need anything.

A4 PRINT READY DOWNLOAD HERE

100+ Fan Engagement Ideas for Kids, Families, Members and Fans

Good morning, 

Please feel free to use this newly updated version of one of my popular fan engagement resources.

The following infographic provides 100+ ideas and strategies for teams and venues of any size to use to give their fans and members, from young to old, extra bang for their buck on game day.

I hope you find it useful and please feel free to touch base should you need to know what an idea means, how I can be of assistance, put you in touch with a sports business colleague or help you in any way.

I hope just one of the ideas helps you improve your fan’s fan journey and game day experience.

Have a great weekend and all the best in delighting your fans. 

Previous fan engagement resource here:

Fan Engagement Ideas Resource

 

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.

2017 Writing Recap

In 2017 I had another exciting year of writing about fans where I pumped out 17 articles for a combined word length of 31,000 words. Perhaps unsurprisingly I only used ‘fan engagement’ 127 times too! (Maybe that PhD won’t be so laborious to write in the end?).

I’m extremely grateful to the publications that gave me writing and media speaking opportunities this year to talk about fans from Sport Techie and The Conversation to Sport Business International and ABC Radio.

I’m always looking for new writing opportunities as it keeps my mind fresh as to the latest in this space plus I really enjoy the educational side of what I do here so please touch base if you have an idea for a story. My rates per word/article are very competitive and have involved craft beer or sports merchandise in the past so I’m open to all offers.

All of my published work from 2017 can be found below however my highlights from the year include:

  1. The Conversation: The New Ticketing Technology That May Make Scalping A Thing Of The Past
  2. Sport Business International: The secret fan | NFL Super Bowl 51, Houston, Texas
  3. Australasian Leisure Management Magazine: Future Stadiums: How Technology Is Revolutionizing The In-Stadium Fan Experience
  4. Sydney College Football Cup: A Showcase Of Americana, Technology

Published Articles:

The Conversation: The New Ticketing Technology That May Make Scalping A Thing Of The Past

Sport Business International: The secret fan | NFL Super Bowl 51, Houston, Texas

Sport Business International: The secret fan | Orix Buffaloes, Pacific League baseball, Osaka, Japan

Australasian Leisure Management Magazine: Future Stadiums: How Technology Is Revolutionizing The In-Stadium Fan Experience

Sport Techie Articles:

Big Bash League Melbourne Stars Launch Youth Digital Platform

How Sports And Sleep Science Helped Australia Reach FIFA World Cup

Australian Kangaroos Launch Chatbot At Rugby League World Cup

Accenture Provides Qantas Wallabies With Game-Changing Performance Stats

DROPIT Partners With Phoenix Suns On In-Arena Reverse Auctions

esports Continues Rise In Australia As A-League Team Signs Gamer

Australian Basketball Team Perth Wildcats Launch Wilbot Chatbot

Sydney College Football Cup: A Showcase Of Americana, Technology

AFL’s Adelaide Crows Use Team App To Livestream 360-Degree Video

Blogs:

The 2017 Fan Engagement/Experience 100-1 Recap

2017 AFLGF and NRLGF Fan Engagement/Experience Overview

20 Snapchat Spectacles Examples From Sports Teams, Players, Fans and Brands

2017 NRL Fan Engagement Overview       

Media Interviews:

Blair Hughes on Fan Engagement in Sport on ABC Radio Grandstand 18/02/2017

ABC Overnights Radio Interview: The Fan Experience 5/3/17

Kicking Goals: The Thirsty Pint 8/12/2017

AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2016 Fan Experience Review

AUS OPEN 2016 Fan Experience

AUS OPEN 2016 Fan Experience

Taking place every January for two weeks in Melbourne, Australia, the Australian Open tennis tournament is a world class innovative fan experience that showcases the largest fan site in the world for a major Grand Slam tennis tournament at 250,000 square metres. From best practice digital fan engagement to gourmet food and endless fan activations, this is Australia’s premier sporting event for fan engagement for fans of all ages.  

AUS OPEN 2016 Fan Zone

AUS OPEN 2016 Fan Zone

The Australian Open prides itself on providing an exceptional fan experience and for this years event they included a new Australian Open Festival site that was completely free for the public and only around 500m from the main tennis arena. The new AO festival space in Birrarung Marr near Flinders Street station was designed to host a free tennis-inspired festival for all ages and offered tennis games, a giant TV screen to watch matches on plus gourmet food and drinks and other fan activations like photo opportunities with giant tennis balls. Designed as the new ‘front door’ of the Aus Open, the new festival area was certainly a winner for fans who were already going to the tournament as well as for those who just wanted to experience the free site. 

AUS OPEN 2016 Festival Site

AUS OPEN 2016 Festival Site

AUS OPEN 2016 Festival Site

AUS OPEN 2016 Festival Site

AUS OPEN 2016 Festival Site

AUS OPEN 2016 Festival Site

Aus Open 2016: Festival site at Birrarung Marr

Aus Open 2016: Festival site at Birrarung Marr

Aus Open 2016: Festival site at Birrarung Marr

Aus Open 2016: Festival site at Birrarung Marr

AUS Open 2016: Canadian Club Bar

AUS Open 2016: Canadian Club Bar

AUS Open 2016: Canadian Club Bar

AUS Open 2016: Canadian Club Bar

The tournament offers free trams to and from the event from the main CBD station (Flinders Street) with these free trams being well staffed with Metro staff on hand to help fans get to and from the tournament with ease. The journey time is only a short 10-15 minute ride to and from the door of the venue from the centre of Melbourne so it’s a worthwhile option for fans especially due to the drop off and pick up location at the venue and because it’s free for ticket holders. Without a ticket to the event you would need to use a MYKI card meaning you will have to buy one of these in advance from a 7/11 for $6 and then touch on the tram/train for $3.79 each way. Parking is also affordable and can be made on site for only $15. 

The food and drink on offer at the Aus Open is more than just pies, hot dogs, softdrinks and beers and is more about showcasing the local delights from Australia’s best restaurants and producers such as the Gelato Messina tennis creations as well as a big focus on gourmet, healthy and fresh Greek, Italian and traditional Australian cuisine. There is literally something here for even the fussiest of diners or for those with dietary requirements such is the abundance of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options which is great to see as it means the organisers are truly catering for all fans. 

AUS OPEN 2016 Food

AUS OPEN 2016 Food

AUS OPEN 2016

AUS OPEN 2016

Healthy food options

Healthy food options

Gelato Messina Food

Gelato Messina Food

In terms of going the extra mile for fans there are some amazing fan experiences on offer at the Aus Open. From behind the scenes tours, meet and greets with past and present players, to their relaxing day spa and butler service that sees food and drink delivered to your seat, fans can even rent a personal tennis commentator or be picked up from their house or hotel in an official KIA Aus Open car and be driven to the tournament like a professional player! 

AUS OPEN 2016: Jurlique Spa Lounge

AUS OPEN 2016: Jurlique Spa Lounge

AUS OPEN 2016: Behind the scenes tours

AUS OPEN 2016: Behind the scenes tours

The digital fan engagement from the Aus Open is superb and always touches on the new and exciting things happening in the the digital world to engage with fans from all over the world. From their snapchat account featuring interesting and exclusive behind the scenes moments, emoji messaging keyboard and use of audioBoom to capture insightful audio stories from fans to their use of Periscope to get live raw video action and interviews for fans, asking fans where they were for seat upgrades using #AOSOCIALSUITE to their creative Twitter emoji’s featuring a Koala in a cork hat and Leyton Hewitt, the tournament continued to out do itself online in 2016. It didn’t stop there though as there were also Twitter takeovers with tennis legend Rod Laver, the #EmiratesCheckIn which enabled fans to win prizes and the Guvera playlist which collated players favourite tunes and asked fans to make their own playlist. 

AUS OPEN 2016: Emoji's

AUS OPEN 2016: Emoji’s

Aus Open 2016: Seat Upgrades

Aus Open 2016: Seat Upgrades

AUS OPEN 2016: Emoji Keyboard

AUS OPEN 2016: Emoji Keyboard

AUS OPEN 2016: AO Social Shack

AUS OPEN 2016: AO Social Shack

The physical presence of the AO Social Shack also delighted fans with virtual reality and social media activations like the Aus Open 360 World ‘lab’ which let fans experience a sensory explosion from all angles of the on court action, trophy photo opportunities and the insta-mosaic where fans could tag themselves and #AOSelfie on Instagram to in return receive a free polaroid print out and be featured in a giant mosaic of 4000+ fan photos. The AOSocialShack also included Twitter chats with players that expanded to live streaming ‘people pressers’ using Periscope at the Social Shack. The ‘Social Suite’ in Hisense Arena provided a VIP social experience for fans that engaged with the Australian Open on social media. Through Facebook, fans have also been able to custom brand their profile picture with an AO frame detailing who they support such as ‘I’m Team Tomic’.

AO Social Shack

AO Social Shack

AUS OPEN 2016 360 World

AUS OPEN 2016 360 World

AUS OPEN 2016 360 World

AUS OPEN 2016 360 World

AUS OPEN 2016 Insta-Mosaic

AUS OPEN 2016 Insta-Mosaic

AUS OPEN 2016: Insta-Mosaic

AUS OPEN 2016: Insta-Mosaic

AUS OPEN 2016: Insta-Mosaic

AUS OPEN 2016: Insta-Mosaic

AOSelfie Mosaic

AOSelfie Mosaic

AUS OPEN 2016 Facebook

AUS OPEN 2016 Facebook

In terms of freebies, various crews of sponsor volunteers are seen wandering the venue handing out free merch to fans like a Canadian Club USB fan for your phone, plastic racket fans from Guvera to Blackmore’s health products which all had fans lining up to grab a free giveaway. 

Aus Open 2016: Freebies

Aus Open 2016: Freebies

Aus Open 2016: Freebies

Aus Open 2016: Freebies

AUS OPEN 2016 Freebies

AUS OPEN 2016 Freebies

The massive Novak’s World enables fans to immerse themselves in Novak Djokovic world and experience the power of virtual reality by using Oculus Rift goggles to feel like you are apart of Novak’s world as he prepare to play while the ANZ Tennis Hotshots area is a dedicated kids fan zone with loads of tennis activities for kids of all ages.

AUS OPEN 2016 Novak's World

AUS OPEN 2016 Novak’s World

AUS OPEN 2016: HotShots Fan Zone

AUS OPEN 2016: HotShots Fan Zone

There are countless opportunities for autographs at the Open with both Autograph Island and the Yonnex Autograph site seeing players visit over the course of the tournament to sign fans merch. Fans were also able to get their face on the cover of Australian Tennis magazine, enjoy priority access by showing their bank card, receive free neck and shoulder massages, seat cushions and upgrades over at the Medibank Private members refresh lounge and even be transported to the tournament in free predi-cab rides. 

AUS OPEN 2016 Pedi Cab Rides

AUS OPEN 2016 Pedi Cab Rides

AUS OPEN 2016: Autograph Island

AUS OPEN 2016: Autograph Island

AUS OPEN 2016: Yonnex Autograph Booth

AUS OPEN 2016: Yonnex Autograph Booth

Aus Open 2016: Yonnex Autograph Station

Aus Open 2016: Yonnex Autograph Station

Aus Open 2016: Yonnex Autograph Station

Aus Open 2016: Yonnex Autograph Station

AUS OPEN 2016: Free pedi-cab rides

AUS OPEN 2016: Free pedi-cab rides

AUS OPEN 2016: Free pedi-cab rides

AUS OPEN 2016: Free pedi-cab rides

Photo opportunities for fans are endless here and include giant tennis balls that are featured across the site to TAC’s ‘LookOut’ campaign which was designed to glamorise the ‘no phone’ strut to educate distracted pedestrians. The Twitter #AUSOPEN hashtag sees people standing all over the big hashtag cut out and the trophy photo sessions allow fans to hold the trophies for a picture all illustrate how fans can walk away with a swag of timeless photographic memories. 

AUS OPEN 2016: TAC Lookout

AUS OPEN 2016: TAC Lookout

AUS OPEN 2016: Photo Ops

AUS OPEN 2016: Photo Ops

Photo Ops at the 2016 AUS OPEN

Photo Ops at the 2016 AUS OPEN

AO Social Shack

AO Social Shack

The Nikoleodeon Inflatable World was a playground featuring kids TV characters while the Kia Creative suite enabled fans to step into the shoes of a tennis champion and lift the AUS Open trophy while also showing off their drawing skills to enter a drawing competition for their chance to win prize packs. Music fans were also not left out as the The Open sessions saw performances by Australia’s top music artists throughout the course of the tournament with all these gigs being included in the price of admission.

AUS Open 2016: The Open Sessions

AUS Open 2016: The Open Sessions

AUS OPEN 2016: Nickelodeon Inflatable World

AUS OPEN 2016: Nickelodeon Inflatable World

There was a bigger emphasis on fitness fan engagement as over at the Wilson’s World Wide demo, fans were testing their skills against competitors around the world by participating in virtual reality fitness challenges whereas in the Fitbit Cardio Tennis site fans of all ages were able to get fit and have fun with a group workout on the court while the Medibank Private Fan Zone saw had fans moving to virtual reality skills tests. There was also a ‘Brazilian Booty Workout’ and ‘Partner Push Up’s’ as well as part of other fitness inspired activations for fans.

AUS OPEN 2016: Wilson Marque

AUS OPEN 2016: Wilson Marque

AUS OPEN 2016: FITBIT Cardio Tennis Workout

AUS OPEN 2016: FITBIT Cardio Tennis Workout

AUS OPEN 2016 Fan Zone

AUS OPEN 2016 Fan Zone

Aus Open 2016: VR Fitness

Aus Open 2016: VR Fitness

Along with free water fountains and cool fresh air and water blowing stations the whole site has heaps of phone recharge stations as well meaning your phone will never need to die here. 

AUS OPEN 2016: Free phone charging stations

AUS OPEN 2016: Free phone charging stations

AUS OPEN 2016: Optus Phone Charging

AUS OPEN 2016: Optus Phone Charging

Water Fountains

Water Fountains

The 2016 Australian Open once again solidifies it’s presence as the premier fan experience in Australia. While there are so many exciting and creative things happening in the world of fan engagement, the Australian Open not only shines a light on the big movements in technology such as virtual reality but also on the little things that put big smiles on fans faces and make them much more engaged while watching the tennis both in the stadium and at home, wherever that may be in the world. But don’t take my word for it, just make sure it’s on your sports bucket list and I’m sure you’ll agree it’s one of the world’s exceptional fan experiences. 

 

AUS OPEN 2016

AUS OPEN 2016

Aus Open 2016 #Headbandforgood

Aus Open 2016 #Headbandforgood

AUS OPEN 2016

AUS OPEN 2016

Aus Open 2016: Fan Zone

Aus Open 2016: Fan Zone

Aus Open 2016: Fan Zone

Aus Open 2016: Fan Zone

 

How the live sporting experience is being redefined through fan engagement.

When is the last time those attending a live sporting event at your venue or within your sport truly felt valued, empowered and engaged as fans? Disregard if their team won or lost on the field and think about what’s happening off it and everything else that happened at the venue on the day. Was there a diverse selection of quality food like gourmet pulled pork sandwiches at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium? Was the entertainment exciting like Manchester City’s ‘City Square’ fan zone? Were they able to access free in-stadium wifi on your second screen to connect with the team and other fans during the game like Sporting Kansas’ multi-angle replays and live stats app? Overall, did the fans feel that the club, sport and stadium created a positive relationship through delivering a memorable experience. Hopefully your club, sport or stadium are doing things right and you cheered yes to all of those questions but if not then this is where the sports business ‘buzz’ term of the moment, fan engagement or fan experience has become so prevalent in recent years among leagues, clubs, stadiums and ultimately sports fans.

It’s been well documented that sporting teams across all codes are fighting a battle off the pitch to get more fans through the gates with the reasons often attributed to a challenging financial climate; competition from new leisure activities; a crowded sporting calendar with multiple teams in the same city; as well as the convergence of digital media and sports over the last few years which has seen more and more fans viewing the game from the comfort of their home theatre sports caves on large LCD 3D HD main screens. Fan engagement then is seen as a crucial way that sporting teams can bring their fans closer and at the same time get more bums on seats.

It’s interesting when you actually stop to think about the idea of fan engagement being a new craze when clubs have always been creatively connecting with fans for many years. However, with the advent of the second screen and social media, clubs, stadiums and fans are embracing new technologies which now allow much faster connection on a more intimate level. As a result, a recent study into stadium fan engagement many fans noted that if fans had to choose between leaving their wallet or smart phone at home they would leave their wallet! How then did it get to a point where fans were crying out for a better match day experience and value for their hard earned cash? Surely the game that’s being played on the pitch is enough value for money and the main reason why fans actually attend the game? For some purist sports fans the idea of fan engagement is absurd as they see it taking away from the main reason why everyone has come to the game in the first place. Get these supporters the customary stadium pie, beer and decent seat and that’s all they need to be able to enjoy the match. However, times have changed and for a growing majority, sports fans now have higher expectations for the match day experience and are seeking more options, incentives, entertainment and engagement from clubs and stadiums.

Thankfully for both local and international fans these teams are now rapidly realising the benefits of using creative fan engagement strategies to connect with their fans. The league, club and stadium stakeholders are increasingly finding ways to collect data and create revenue streams from these fan engagement initiatives. There is healthy competition among these stakeholders to have a distinguished fan engagement selling point that separates them from other clubs with not a day going by without an exciting new idea for fans.

It’s important to understand that fan engagement is about creating a special positive relationship with fans through a two-way conversation between them and their club. It’s about reaching out to fans whether they are in the stands at the game or watching for instance via a digital membership in a foreign country in order to make them aware that they are connected and involved in the club through various creative strategies.

Fan engagement is about pulling the fan in closer to the club rather than reducing them to just a membership number in the stands. It encompasses many aspects such as creative merchandise like Queensland Red’s ‘Baby Red’ membership that includes a baby sized jersey; responsive cross platform social and digital media initiatives like West Ham United’s social media match where the team wore T-shirts with fans tweets on them; the Newcastle Knights having fans twitter names on the back of players jerseys. Match day experiences like Tottenham Hotspurs ‘Linesman for a Day’ or the Oakland Raider’s ‘Fanicure’ experience for female fans are also examples of how fan engagement is being used by sporting teams around the world.

Clubs and stadiums also see the benefit of maximising fan engagement by providing quality stadium food options, such as Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium gluten free stand or Sydney’s Allianz Stadium ‘Seat & Eat Free’ deal, as well as providing fans with dedicated fan zones like Queens Park Ranger’s Matchday Activity Zone for youth supporters and ESPN’s Fan Deck seen recently at the Opening Series of the Major League Baseball in Sydney. While these are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of best practice initiatives for fan engagement in 2014, what sets fan engagement apart is that many of these ideas are very inexpensive and easy to facilitate and in turn can generate significant added revenue into a club by attaching memberships, merchandise, corporate hospitality and commercial offers or incentives to these fan engagement strategies that means the brand can now also be marketed towards newer markets of international supporters.

Global innovations in fan engagement are taking place on a daily basis with recent additions including the FIFA World Cup 2014 rolling out a second screen social and mobile heavy experience called Global Stadium which lets football fans from around the world connect during the 64 games. Atletico Madrid have also recently announced plans to install a massive 4000m2 fan zone around their stadium by 2016 and the AFL has teamed up with wearable technology company Wearable Experiments (We:eX) to develop ‘Alert Shirts’ which allow fans to experience what the players feel through a technology-enabled jersey.

It’s not hard to see why sporting clubs and stadiums around the world are investing more and more resources into fan engagement initiatives as it gives their supporters more bang for their buck, increases fan loyalty and enhances the game day experience which in turn creates lasting memorable moments for fans.

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