sports business

I Asked Every NRL Club Why I Should Become A Member…..Here Are The Responses

The NRL season is back soon and along with my fellow NRL and rugby league fans, I am pumped to be getting back out to games at a time when the game seems to be even bigger than ever…..but maybe it’s just Tina Turner singing in the background. Anyway…..

In an effort to see why I should become a member of an NRL club and what benefits each team offered their fans for the 2020 season, I sent an email under the alias Jack Gilmore (a combination of two of my favourite fictional film sports characters in Jackie Moon from Semi-Pro and Happy Gilmore from Happy Gilmore) to ask a couple of questions and see how teams would reply. (Note: Having worked with the majority of clubs in some capacity, I used an alias because if I used my real name they’d have caught on straight away and I wanted to get 100% honest and genuine replies).

I wanted to see the following:

  • Who responded the quickest
  • Who didn’t respond at all. Hopefully, they’d all reply. Every team needs every fan to sign up to increase memberships.
  • Why I should become a member of each club and who answered the specific question ‘Why Should I Become A Member of your club’
  • What benefits were included in memberships compared to others across the NRL
  • Who was persistent and followed up by trying to get the membership and sale finalized 
  • Who came across as genuine and authentic rather than an auto-reply response

Here are the results:

National Rugby League:

  • 11 of the 16 teams I emailed had replied with responses at the time of writing this blog post on Wednesday morning 4/3/2020.
  • Six teams replied with automatic responses within one minute of my email (these were Newcastle, NZ, Melbourne, Parramatta, Brisbane, and Gold Coast) with four of these following up afterward with more detailed responses. This was a simple way to both illustrate that the team had received the email, that the fan would get a reply soon and that they immediately received confirmation that their request was being actioned.
  • The Storm and Knights didn’t follow up on their initial emails saying they’d get back to me though which is fine as you’d assume that more than likely a fan would follow up with the auto-reply.
  • Not a single club sent a follow-up email when I had not responded within a week so it would be interesting to see how persistent they are before getting back to these potential fans to try to sign them up closer to the season start date. You have to be persistent. 
  • Only 8 of 16 actually bothered to answer my question about why I should support the team. Listening is vital. 

Response Times:

I sent an email out to every team’s membership email account at 10am on Tuesday the 25th of February which stated:

“Hello, 

I’m looking at becoming a member this year having recently relocated back home. 

Just a GA seat, one seat for me, cheapest, please.

What is the best reason to become a member of the club and why should I bother? 

Any incentives, deals, promos? What do you guys do for me as a member that’s good? 
Can you send me any details on membership packs and what I get in them too, please?
Thanks”

At the time of writing this on 4/3/2020, of the 16 teams I wrote to using their membership emails, only 11 of the clubs responded to my email asking about becoming a member.

I followed up with an email to the five who didn’t respond on Wednesday morning 4 March seeking to see about a reply to my initial email. It’s totally understandable that these emails can fall through the cracks but for someone wanting to sign up it’s imperative that this happens infrequently so as to avoid a potential lost sale and membership.

By Wednesday afternoon I had heard back from two more clubs so 13 of the 16 had responded by Wednesday afternoon.

Of the 11 teams who responded after my initial email:

  • Fastest response: 11 minutes from Parramatta. Brilliant.
  • 6 responded within 42 minutes
  • 8 responded on the same day
  • 10 responded within 1 day and a few hours
  • 8 actually answered the question I asked about why it’s worth becoming a member and why I should do that

I guess what was one thing that was interesting was that of the six teams who followed up instantly with automatic replies saying they’d get back to me ASAP, two of those (Melbourne and Newcastle) didn’t actually respond until I wrote back to them and then they did which was great to see.

An important thing to note is that I don’t think fans should expect a reply straight away and the clubs made mention of this in the automatic replies that they’d respond in one to two days. However, it is absolutely vital that all enquiries are actioned and the loop is closed sufficiently by replying to either get the fan over the line and bag the sale/membership and/or to collect the data (name/email) to follow up with at a later point when trying again whether that is next week, month or season. They’ve reached out to you and are halfway towards a sale. 

The following is the time the team responded along with the total time from

Lessons:

  • It is vital to follow up with everyone who contacts your business. And then follow up again….and again. Not harassing them and certainly not when they’ve told you to stop but you have to be persistent. Sometimes it’s a long game. They have made the effort to engage with you which means they are halfway there to a sale.
  • It’s great to have an automatic reply but if you don’t follow up these are pointless.
  • Being genuine and authentic will lead to a sale. The responses below where the membership team person went out of their way to tell me why I should sign up actually enticed me to think about doing just that if I lived locally to those clubs.
  • Answering the question that is asked cuts down time for both parties back and forth, gives the person what they’re after and highly likely leads to a sale as they have all the information to make an informed buying decision.
  • Asking to call or grab a number is important. The more info you can collect the better but also the chances of a sale are higher if you can speak to a person and state your case effectively and clearly in person or over the phone.
  • Never be afraid to upsell or talk about add-on’s and trying to sell other items. Sometimes the customer/fan doesn’t know what’s available and you might just have an even better deal for them plus bringing in more selling points leads to more sales. I was surprised that no one bothered to talk about hospitality or merchandise or try to push me with upselling to get even more bang for my buck (although perhaps that’s where they did listen as I mentioned I only wanted the cheapest GA ticket)
  • Not many asked me questions about my motivations for buying. That’s important as it can answer a lot of questions to round out a sale.
  • All in all, what a bargain these NRL memberships are! I can’t wait to get out to the grounds in 2020. 
  • I’d love to have seen the Tigers, Sharks and Panthers replies too however these memberships are available in the links if anyone wants to view them. They are equally impressive too. 
  • If you’re an NRL member sign up to your club and support the game. NRL has never been in a better position and as a hardcore fan myself I am pumped to be getting back out to the grounds.

Responses:

The following are the responses from each club along with some notes.

Parramatta Eels

Thank you for your email.

That’s great to hear you are interested in becoming a member!

I highly recommend our General Admission membership as I will list below what you receive in it.

Note: if you buy a full season general admission adult pass you receive a free junior up to the age of 18.

General Admission (11 games): unreserved

Adult: $200

Concession: $190

Junior: Free with full paying adult or $100 for an extra junior

Family: $400

Members pack:

Adult:

  • Cap
  • Keyring
  • Lanyard
  • Sticker set

Junior:

  • Lanyard
  • Sticker set
  • Junior cap

As being a 2020 member, you will also receive a range of benefits such as:

  • Integrated game day public transport
  • Access to the brand-new members offers program
  • Access to Members Lounge ’47
  • Access to Members’ loyalty program, including Member Loyalty Events
  • Access to cash-back member seat resale program (Reserved Seat Members only)
  • 10% discount off selected Eels home game tickets
  • BONUS! 15% discount at the Eels Online Store
  • Priority buying window for all Eels home games
  • Priority buying window for NRL major events
  • Member Event Invitations
  • Member-first club communication

I hope this helps you understand the way our memberships work in more detail.

Notes:

  • Super fast response
  • Loaded with info on memberships and inclusions
  • Actually sounds like the best membership to sign up to as well given all the benefits. Parra fans have it good there.

New Zealand Warriors

Thank you for your e-mail and we appreciate all of your support and interest in becoming a member for the 2020 season! We are eager for the upcoming 2020 season as the boys have been training extremely hard and are all in for a great season ahead, so we’d love to have you on board during this exciting time! The following options would be your General Admission memberships for the season and I’ve included the benefits that you receive as a member-

The Interchange (general admission) Membership Options are as follows-

–              Either 5, 9 or 18-ticket General Admission passes

                Full Season –  Flexi 5 game  ($85 in total)  

                                         Flexi 9 game  ($144 in total)                                                                                              

                                         Flexi 18 game ($270 in total)                                                       

–              Can spread all games across the season or use all at once with your friends and family

–              An adult membership pack which includes a CCC member’s cap, Vodafone Warriors bumper sticker, 2020 memberships pass and lanyard

–              Access to members-only online newsletter

–              Access to the members’ clubroom

–              10% ticket discount to Vodafone Warriors regular season home games at Mt Smart

–              10% merchandise discount at our super store or online at www.warriorsstore.co.nz

–              Second-priority ticketing access to NRL Finals and State of Origin

If you are able to attend every home game at Mt Smart Stadium, I would consider the Flexi 9 option for $144 for the season. Alternatively, if you needed a bit more flexible of an option and you are not able to attend all of the home games I’d suggest the Flexi 5 option for $85. If you plan on bringing someone else along to every game with you I’d consider the Flexi 18 for $270.

Thanks again Jack and please let me know if you have any other questions and I’d be happy to help.

Notes:

  • Provided options
  • Added a link
  • Added info on membership inclusions
  • Fantastic answer as to why I should sign on as a member

St. George Illawarra Dragons

Thanks for your email and interest in becoming a Red V Member.

Membership is the highest commitment a supporter can make to their club – which we reward for your direct financial contribution. All members would receive exclusive benefits including the best value for home game tickets and away ticket offers, discounts on Dragons merchandise, exclusive access to meet the team through member events, and chances to win member experiences and prizes! You can read more about our member benefits here.

Currently, all members who sign up by the 2nd March will be included on our annual Red V Member Wall. The yearly designed wall will show the names of all members who have signed up prior to that deadline and will be displayed at all Dragons home games and selected member events. Members will also receive exclusive access to an Anzac Day ticket pre-sale next week with 20% off tickets (along with existing 20% off all Dragons home game tickets) and a pre-sale for the NRL Grand Final later in March!

For information and images regarding your membership pack, please click here.

You would have multiple options regarding a GA seat – it would depend on how many games you’d get to throughout the year. Your options would include:

Flexi 3 GA for $70: Access to 3 Dragons home games between Kogarah or Wollongong

Wollongong Pass GA for $135: Access to 6 Dragons home games at Wollongong

Kogarah Plus GA for $135: Access to 5 Dragons home games at Kogarah and 1 at the SCG for Anzac Day

Full Season GA for $240: Access to all 12 Dragons home games

Let us know if you had any further questions.

Notes:

  • Provided a very good response to my question about why I should get a membership
  • Added a link to memberships
  • Provided different options
  • All members signed up before 2/3 also had the chance to be on the REDV wall too.

Sydney Roosters

Thank you for your email. Great to hear you are interested in becoming a Member.

Our coach Trent Robinson describes our Members as the foundation of our club. The support from our Members by turning up to games and paying Membership fees plays a big role in the club’s success.

If you are interested in general admission seating, the Bronze Membership is your best choice. The Membership costs $150, which includes access to 10 home games (8x SCG, 1 Gosford, 1 North Sydney Oval), which is a significant saving in comparison to purchasing a GA ticket ($30/game pre-sale) to every home game. As a Member, you can also purchase tickets with a 10% discount at Central Coast and 30% at SCG home games so that it is also more affordable to bring family and friends with you to games.

The bronze Membership is counted as a Ticketed Membership, which includes receiving your Membership card, lanyard, keyring, stickers and fixture magnet, and a coupon so that you can collect your choice of a cap, scarf or can cooler at a home game, Members BBQ, or from the Spring St entrance at Easts Leagues.

To purchase the Bronze Membership, please visit: https://am.ticketmaster.com/roosters/bronze-membership#/

Alternatively you can call us on 1300 327 871 to purchase your Membership.

Notes:

  • Answered my question about why its good to become a member
  • Provided link to the membership
  • Provided info on what’s included in membership packs

Canberra Raiders

Thanks for your email. Please use the link below to find all our exclusive member benefits for season 2020. Due to a large influx of members this year we recommend purchasing your membership at some point today in order to ensure that you receive a membership pack.

https://www.raiders.com.au/membership/packages/full-season/bronze-general-admission/

We hope to see you as part of the Raiders family in season 2020.

Notes:

  • Provided a link to memberships

Brisbane Broncos

It is great to hear you are looking to become a member with us for the 2020 season!

With regard to your requirements, were you looking at a full season membership or possibly a 4 game membership?

A great reason to become a member with us this year is that we strongly believe 2020 will be a massive year for the boys on the field, and we think it’s not one to be missed. Aside from that though by becoming a member for 2020 you also gain access to a myriad of benefits which include; discounted home game tickets through Ticketek for family and friends, pre-sale access to NRL finals games involving us, access to discounts in our Team Store, plus access to offers from our many sponsors and partners.

By also becoming a member you have access to exclusive member content via our Member Mail email which is sent to you each week. This content also includes member only competitions that you can enter which gives you access to prizes and experiences that non-members and fans can’t get.

For more information on all of our membership packages you can head to our membership website via the link here. If you would like to discuss any of our options as well you can certainly give us a call anytime

Notes:

  • Answered the question quite well and got me excited for the season ahead.
  • Provided heaps of information and a membership link
  • Told me about membership incentives and information like competitions and merch
  • A side note on this. I bought my Broncos membership for 2020 last week and they were equally switched on to helping me out as they were to helping old mate ‘Jack’ out lol. 

North Queensland Cowboys

Hey Jake,

I have link below our Gold Star Unreserved Membership, which is our GA product.

Feel free to have a look over the inclusion and if you have any questions let me know

https://www.cowboys.com.au/membership/packages/full-season/gold-star-unreserved/

Notes:

  • Far out, I love the Cowboys and can’t wait to get up to the new stadium for the opening game but….
  • They got my fake name wrong! haha this actually made me laugh so kudos for that.

  • A few grammatical errors but who cares really about these at least they responded!

  • Didn’t tell me why it’d be great to support the team or any benefits

  • Provided a link to memberships which was useful to look over and get excited about.

  • The most glaring omission is the fact that YOU HAVE A BRAND NEW STADIUM TO TELL ME ABOUT BUT MADE NO MENTION OF IT! A key thing a fan would want to know about. 

  • Still, these things happen and no doubt they are under the pump with the brand new stadium and doing a superb job in getting everything ready for the opening game. As a proud North Queenslander supporter, I still bought a jersey this year too. Up the Cowboys!

Manly Sea Eagles

We have GA Memberships for $205 for the season. This includes all 10 Lottoland home games.

The way our GA seating works is on a first come first served basis, so you would need to secure your own seat.

With this specific pack you have the option of receiving either a cap, beanie or scarf, as well as a Member card, lanyard, sticker and keyring.

One of the best benefits is the cost. A Membership works out much cheaper than purchasing tickets game by game.

In addition to this your receive a 10% discount on merchandise, pre-sale access to different Rugby Leagues events such as NRL finals and Origin. We also hold Member only events throughout the season too, such as our Members Christmas BBQ where all players are in attendance 

That is kind of our Membership in a nutshell, I guess most importantly though it’s the best way to support the Club that you follow!

Please see the link below for additional information about the specific pack it sounds would be most suitable for you:

https://www.seaeagles.com.au/membership/packages/general-admission/the-47s-general-admission/

Another thing to note, is we also have 3 or 5 game GA Memberships if you don’t think you’ll make all 10 games.

Notes:

  • Provided extra info and insights
  • Provided link to membership
  • Told me why its good to support the club
  • Talked about the benefits
  • Told me what incentives and inclusions are in the packs

Gold Coast Titans

Thank you for reaching out to the Membership Team upon your move back home!

If you’re looking to attend home games this year at Cbus Super Stadium, having a Membership with the club is the best financial option in which to do so and you receive an exclusive Member’s cap and pack. In addition to this, if you wish to purchase additional tickets you receive a 15% Member’s discount, an invitation to exclusive member events, free public transport on game-day, a Parkwood Social Membership, and free feeder club entry, amongst other benefits.

We’d love to have you onboard for our fight in 2020 so please see below for a link to the packages:

GA Membership:

https://am.ticketmaster.com/goldcoasttitans/Packages/generaladmission#/

If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to respond to this email or alternatively give us a call via our hotline as we’d be more than happy to help.

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Notes:

  • Provided membership link
  • Answered question about the cheapest option
  • Told me why it’s good to be a member

South Sydney

Thank you for contacting the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

I have attached the link with details of the General Admission Member Pack https://membership.rabbitohs.com.au/general-admission/.

This Membership is a Full Season Member Pass, meaning that you will have access to all Rabbitohs NSW Home Games Plus Reciprocal Away Games and pick your seat in our General Admission Seating each Match. 

-You will receive a Cap/Scarf (Member’s Choice Item)

-Membership Card

-Bumper Sticker

-Fixture Magnet

-Lanyard

-$20 online merchandise voucher

-10% off Rabbitohs Merch

-Rabbitohs Rewards Pass

-Exclusive Sponsor Offers

-Entry to the 2020 Member’s Tipping Competition

-Access to P&O Member’s Deck at post-match functions

-Choose from a selection of players on your Member card

Scroll through the link to view these items visually.

If you don’t think you are going to be present at all the Home Games, we do have the option of purchasing a Flexi 3 or 5 game Membership which will grant you access to either 3 or 5 Home Games depending on what suits you best.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Notes:

  • Provided merch info and inclusions in the membership pack
  • Provided link to the memberships
  • Didn’t tell me why I should support the team

Canterbury

Thank you for contracting the Bulldogs Membership Team.

That’s good to hear mate  that you are interested in becoming a Bulldogs Membership for the 2020 season.

We are only a couple of days out from our first game of the season and the Club and teams need you and your support for the 2020 season.

Our cheapest General Admission membership is the Blue Zone membership for $145.

The following link contains all the information regarding the Blue zone membership: https://www.bulldogs.com.au/membership/packages/general-admission/blue-zone/

Could you please give me a day and time that suits you best so I can give you a call to renew your membership for 2020?

If you have any questions please feel free to give us a call back on 1300 769 164 or simply respond to this email.

Notes:

  • Provided a membership link
  • Provided a number to call
  • Provided the cheapest option
  • Answered question about membership
  • Asked to follow up with me with a call

Melbourne Storm 

Thank you for your email

Below is a link to our membership packages

https://www.melbournestorm.com.au/membership/packages/

What is your best contact number to call you on regarding this

Looking forward to hearing back from you

Notes:

  • Asked to call me to follow up which was good to see. A genuine call gets a higher chance of a sale every time.
  • Linked in info on membership info
  • Didn’t answer the question about why I should become a member of the Storm but would likely do that over phone

Newcastle Knights

He is a link to our membership website https://knightshub.com.au/membership/, here you will be able to browse the different memberships we have on offer and choose what best suits you. Each of our membership offers discounts on merchandise and ticketing on top of the membership pack that you will receive.

The greatest part about becoming a member is showing your support and becoming a part of a club you feel passionate about.

Please let me know if I can help you with anything further.

Kind regards,

Notes:

  • Answered the question quite well here
  • Provided links and info

Cronulla

  • No response to the initial email
  • No response to follow up email

Penrith

  • No response to the initial email
  • No response to follow up email

Wests Tigers

  • No response to the initial email
  • No response to follow up email

A note on Cronulla, Penrith and Wests Tigers. Even if these three caught on that this wasn’t a real member inquiry the fact that the vast majority are all cut and paste automatic reply emails means it doesn’t take much effort to just reply. The emails have no doubt fallen into the spam, opened and closed or just forgotten about folder. Even after I bothered to follow up with another email. However, whatever the case if you’re a fan of these clubs and myself having done their games days, I’d still 100% sign up for a membership of these clubs as they’re all doing exceptional things in the community and on game days. Plus….suburban grounds, gotta love that!

 

THE 2019 FAN ENGAGEMENT/ FAN EXPERIENCE 100-1 RECAP

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

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

Some of the key areas of focus included:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018

2017

2016

2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

92. The Boundary Social at The Gabba, Brisbane.

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

90. Chicago Blackhawks NHL chopping board giveaway to fans.

89. NY Mets Seinfeld Night and bobblehead giveaway.

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

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

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

85. Chief Beer Officer at the LA Rams.

84. Queens Park Rangers crest collection for new members.

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

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

81. Melbourne Storm (NRL) Street Crew.

80. Commemorative yesteryear tickets from Collingwood AFLW.

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

78. AGF Children’s Day drawings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

71. This lovely story from the UT Vols.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

57. This classy note from Manchester City to fans.

56. Various LA Dodgers themed nights.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

43. Peterborough PUFC young fans guard of honor.

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

— Jake Baxter (@Jake__Baxter) February 2, 2019


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

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

40. Eredivisie Toy Toss. 

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

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

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

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

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

34. Baltimore Ravens Pop Up Shop idea.

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

32. Huggity’s scrum machine challenge. 

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

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

29. Baltimore Ravens debut mixed reality Raven in venue.

28. NBA smart jerseys.

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

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

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

24. Hertha BSC ticket bot.

23. Premier League smart shirt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14. VR work from Bayern Munich.

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

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

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

10. Bat flips at the BBL/WBBL.

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

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

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

6. Charlotte Checkers having personalised notes on fans seats.

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

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

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

 

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

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

So there you have it for 2019.

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks and have a great holiday break.

The F&B Fan Experience: 100+ Ideas and Incentives To Improve The Game Day Fan Experience

G’day, 

Please find another one of my latest resources with this one touching on some ideas, trends, strategies, innovations and incentives that teams and stadiums can use to enhance the food and beverage (F&B) fan experience on game day. 

The list provides 100+ tips, tricks, ideas and incentives that will be useful to grassroots and global teams and of which have already proven successful for many stakeholders in this space. 

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 please also let me know if you tried something and saw a successful outcome as I would love to hear that and be able to showcase those outcomes for you.

The list ranges from ideas and incentives that are across the spectrum of areas during and before the fan journey starts and range from F&B incentives to the changing diets and tastes of sports fans and even some quirky random ideas in between too.

Remember that it’s always important to look outside the box and get a bit creative when it comes to the food and beverage fan experience.

All the best and touch base if you need anything as I’m always happy to assist.

Please find a downloadable PDF file here: THE F&B FAN EXPERIENCE

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

 

Cricket Australia Test Match Fan Experience at The Gabba, First Test, Australia Vs Sri Lanka, Brisbane, 24 January 2018

I have a fan experience report to follow for Australasian Leisure Management Magazine but for now here are a selection of photos from the first test in Brisbane at The Gabba between Cricket Australia and Sri Lanka.

‘The Lawn’ Fan Experience at the MCG, Cricket Australia Vs India, January 18 2018

Here is a recent story I wrote for Digital Sports Labs looking at the fan experience of The Lawn social space from the MCG in Melbourne. 

 

A trending area in the fan engagement space from sporting teams and venues has seen the emergence of unique and fun social seating experiences that have been developed to combat the competition from other leisure activities and the at-home TV experience while at the same time appeal to and acquire new audiences.

Unrivalled entertainment spaces including TIAA Bank Field’s pet park in Jacksonville, Etihad Stadium’s transparent tunnel club in Manchester and Petco Park’s beach in San Diego highlight just some of the global examples of how venues and teams are currently offering fans unique, exciting and exclusive game day experiences that can only be experienced by fans in the stadium.

The focus on these exclusive social spaces is a smart way for venues to enhance their fan experience features, offer hardcore, lapsed and new fans a chance to experience the game day in a fun new way while also enabling teams and venues to create new revenue opportunities.

‘The Lawn’ from Cricket Australia is a prime example of how one sporting organization is opening up the game to a wider audience by creating a unique fan experience that portrays a new image of cricket to people who don’t usually engage with the sport and which in turn is successfully attracting many new fans, especially young females to an event they previously may not have considered attending.

Marking it’s return to bays 11-13 at the MCG, The Lawn is a stylish and sophisticated exclusive hospitality experience from Cricket Australia that features outstanding views of the field, scrumptious local gourmet food and a vibrant social atmosphere that has all been created in an effort to attract a new audience to the cricket.

First impressions are everything with these premium spaces and it didn’t disappoint as from the moment you entered the colourful space that was adorned with fresh flowers and plants, you were made to feel welcome by the friendly hosts who guided you into The Lawn’s impressive astro-turfed deck and spectacular views of the MCG.

Created by sporting agency TLA Australia, The Lawn 2.0 included some impressive improvements on last year’s first installment with the notable addition of a circular bar that made ordering drinks faster and easier for fans while the beauty and pamper bar, photo booth stand and fashion illustration station entertained fans throughout the day with the latter proving to be a memorable keepsake for people to take home.

The food on offer at The Lawn was a delectable assortment of fresh local gourmet produce and included finger foods such as braised lamb shank pies, peking duck rice paper rolls, Katsu fried chicken burgers and mini baguettes. The culinary selections also featured gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options as well as all day fries. A notable highlight was that the food options continued coming out in an endless stream via the attentive catering staff who ensured that each fan was well catered for and well fed throughout the course of the day.

Beverage selections included local sparkling, white and red wines as well as the refreshing ‘Friesling’ which was a tropical slushy-style riesling that was exclusive to The Lawn. The choice of beers was a slight disappointment with the lack of a dedicated craft beer being a noticeable absent item. On this note, with Pirate Life and 4 Pines now both falling under the CUB brand there could surely be an opportunity to include one of these ranges at the next installment of The Lawn considering CUB has the exclusive beer pourage rights at the MCG. Drink prices were however affordable and the wide selection of drinks more than made up for any lack of craft beer.

All of the little touches were thouroughly thought through and included a card for a free welcome drink on arrival and giveaways such as exclusive Lawn branded fedora hats. Sunscreen bottles and ample shade sails also kept fans protected from the sun throughout the day while the seating options varied from comfortable cabana type sun lounges to stools and elegant couches with sufficient table space provided for fans to spread out and still enjoy a good view of the action on the field.

Diving deeper into the actual creation of The Lawn, TLA’s Tom Meredith noted that ‘it was born out of Cricket Australia’s desire to attract more females and young eventers to One Day International Cricket and was designed with social interaction and social engagement at its core.’ Tom further added that ‘It ‘s a destination for people to go to enjoy the fun of social interaction with people like them, and for them to share the experience on their social channels while the likes of the Birdcage at Flemington and the Portsea Polo were inspiration for the space too’.

The feedback from fans both at The Lawn and those following along on social at home highlighted the successful benefits of creating a stylish, relaxed and unique fan engagement space such as this being that it is a creative way to draw in new fans to the cricket as well as showing hardcore cricket fans how they can ramp up their own match day fan experience. One fan even tweeted the exact kind of response and target market Cricket Australia would be aiming for with The Lawn as Brooke noted:

Fans want new and unique experiences on game days that excite them more than what they can get from a standard game day or from the at home TV experience and The Lawn from Cricket Australia and TLA is a great example of what can be achieved by creating a space that provides an elegant and stylish space with all the little touches. While this fan experience will not suit every traditional cricket fan, The Lawn is a vibrant fan experience that provides multiple unique features that is sure to win over new cricket fans.

 

 

A-League 2018/19 Fan Engagement Initiatives

The goal posts are up, the members are pumped and the excitement is building for football fans in Australia with the 2018/9 A-League season getting underway tonight in Adelaide.

Therefore with the season starting in less than 12 hours I thought I’d put a quick run down together this morning to shine a light on what the A-League teams across the country are looking to do this season to engage their fans. 

This is by no means the definitive list of ideas, activations and initiatives but it does highlight some of the little touches that teams and the league have worked on to improve over the off-season for fans. I believe that they’re listening to fans and trying hard to improve the football fan experience across both the A-League and W-League and this small snapshot provides a glimpse into what fans can expect this year with there no doubt also being bigger things to come.

Have you seen something else from your team? Let me know and I’ll include it.

Let’s get started…

Adelaide United

Adelaide have created a new fan village and are also offering fans cheap $4 parking options for members who show their card at the Entertainment Centre which is sure to address a common pain point for families and fans around starting and ending the fan journey seamlessly.

AUFC have revamped the match day experience for supporters coming to Coopers Stadium. The area for fans will be surrounded by white picket fencing, accompanied by music and lit up with festoon lighting to enhance the festival of football atmosphere. Three food trucks will be within the vicinity of the village along with a PIMM’s bar marquee and Coopers Bar, accompanied with barrels and umbrellas scattered around the precinct for fans to congregate while talking about the upcoming game. Sounds like a nice set up for fans to mingle pre-game.

For fans young and old there are free wallpapers on their site too and a highlight thats impressed many families has been their personalised members packs.

 

Brisbane Roar

Brisbane Roar are doing a lot of good things right at the moment and their junior pathways program, Roar Rascals is no exception. The program see’s Brisbane Roar FC offer all QLD FFA registered junior footballers aged 11 years or younger the opportunity to experience a Hyundai A-League game from some of the best seats in the house.

As a Roar Rascals Member in 2018 these fans receive:

  • A family pass (2A+2J) to the Hyundai A-League Round 2 clash against Wellington Phoenix at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday, 28 October.
  • Exclusive junior offers and discounts across the club

The Roar are taking a whole of club photo next weekend and have also offered ticketing incentives like offering free upgrades from Orange to Silver seats for Sunday’s clash against the Mariners.

Central Coast Mariners

Central Coast Mariners have so far held a Family Day, set up an away day venue for fans and are also offering inspiring people from the community to be chosen as the game day coin tosser. The CCM along with sponsor Newcastle Permanent Building Society have also established a schools program focused on getting more kids in the area active.

Melbourne City

Melbourne City are offering all members the chance to try out their new craft beer collaboration with official craft beer sponsor of the team, Stomping Ground Brewery with a special launch where all members will receive one free tinnie of the new ‘City Pale Ale‘.

One membership option from City also gives fans a free can of this beer before some games as well this season.

City held a massive family day for fans, are offering fans free family passes through McDonalds meals, included coffee cups in their members packs (how iconically Melbourne!) and are bringing back their impressive City Square fan zone for game days that will feature live music, food trucks, giveaways, football clinics, competitions, and interviews with players and special guests.

The team has also partnered with Sports Hosts which connects international visitors with passionate local hosts to take these people to experience a City match day. Well done to Darren and the team at Sports Hosts on establishing another partnership.

Melbourne Victory

Melbourne Victory have a strong social game for fans, created this doco on their finals run last season, utilised their fan base for a new campaign for #ThisGirlCanVIC, have put the call out to fans to contribute for the game day playlist and through one sponsor are offering fans $10 off their electricity bill for every game they go to.

On game days Victory are running the ‘Fantastic Four’ competition which is their way of recognising and rewarding member attendance throughout the season. The competition will run every three months with participation based on attendance throughout the season.

Victory Village will also be up and running on game days with plenty of entertainment for the whole family pre-match and as an example of whats to come this season will feature the following at tomorrow’s Melbourne Derby:

  • Championship trophy
  • DJ
  • TAC: At the TAC Locker Room fans can get a different player sticker each game with tomorrow featuring Georg Niedermeier.
  • Face Painting
  • Inflatable pitch

Along with all the other teams and the FFA, Victory also have these fantastic teacher resources for schools and teachers to utilise. As a former school teacher I’m a huge fan of these resources. If any of my colleagues at A-League club land can shoot me over some of these worksheets I’d love to have a look and promote to my teacher friends across Australia.

Newcastle Jets

Newcastle are listening to their fans by running a fan forum looking at active support and what they can do to get even more fans out to McDonald Jones Stadium on A-League game days. Go along if you’re in Newcastle.

The team made this brilliant brand campaign video too.

The Jets have also enlisted the support of a fan to provide match day stats along with running a fan day and some quality kids clinics in the lead up to the season.

The Jets:CONNECT program is also worth a look to see how the Jets engage the local community through football and especially young fans through primary school visits and coaching clinics.

Perth Glory

The Glory are engaging with participants of all ages and abilities while assisting in the progression of football in Australia through the ‘2&5 – Primary School Programs where their staff run many quality programs throughout the school term for children at metropolitan and regional primary schools.

Working with WA start up QuizJam the Glory also offer their fans the chance to play a host of fun quizzes to keep them engaged. A start-up worth checking out for other teams too.

Perth have revamped their huge fan zone that for the 2018/9 season will feature:

· Small Sided Games

· QBE Inflatable pitch

· Inflatable Bungee Run

· Hit! 92.9 DJ and Hit! Squad

· Face Painters

· Bubble Artist

· Inflatable Dartboard

· Jungle Sports junior football

· Merchandise

· Player signings

There are also a heap of quality ticketing incentives for Glory fans such as family tickets and free entry for registered female footballers.

Sydney FC

Sydney have a huge opening game planned with Aussie band The Ruben’s set to perform live in a pre-match gig ahead of the Sydney Derby. A fitting band considering members are also Sydney FC fans themselves.

Sydney FC were one of only a couple of clubs to feature an A-Z and stadium map info on their site and I’d highly encourage the other teams to make this information readily available along with making email sign up’s more prominent on their respective websites to enable fans to be able to better plan the fan journey. 

Sydney also have an exclusive away day bar venue available for fans at The Star while they’re also calling on fans to decide what goes on the game day playlist.

Teacher’s, school kids and fans should also take note as the Sky Blues also have a Teacher Ambassador Program that will resource and recognise teachers who actively promote Sydney FC at their school and with as many students as possible. Can’t wait to pass this on to my teacher buddies in NSW.

I’ll be coming along to the Sydney FC double header game on Sunday November 25 at Jubilee Oval to take in the Sydney FC fan experience and I’ll be looking to chat to some Blues fans about the team as well. Hit me up if you’re going along that game day.

Wellington Phoenix

The Phoenix have a couple of fun activations planned for game day for Welly fans with the ‘Cash The Gate‘ comp that sees the Nix pay out the crowd number in cash to one lucky fan in the crowd, should the crowd exceed 10,000.

Probably one of the most exciting hospitality fan engagement packages any A-League fan can do is the Garage Project Fan Zone which is the perfect spot to view the game at pitch level, while sampling the best craft beers, wine and food Wellington has to offer. I can’t wait to get back to Wellington and Westpac Stadium soon to try this. Garage Project’s craft beers are some of the best in the world and a visit to Wellington for a game day at Westpac Stadium should be on your venue bucket list.

The Phoenix have me free wallpapers and posters available for fans too.

However probably the most impressive piece of fan engagement from Wellington is the inclusive initiative they have with regards to their free memberships for recently settled refugees. 

The Football Diversity and Inclusion Programme (FDIP) is an initiative between Wellington Phoenix, the Human Rights Commission, Red Cross, ChangeMakers, Multicultural NZ and the region’s City Councils and will see Wellington Phoenix offer 2018/19 season tickets for recently resettled refugees and people from low socioeconomic communities in the Wellington region serving as a recognition of the important role sport plays in building bridges between individuals and across communities.

Taking it one step further in 2018/19 the club also told me that they’ll be providing free packed lunches and transport as well to ensure fans can have the best fan experience and become life long fans. Brave to the Phoenix for this inclusive initiative. 

I think this is a very inclusive and respectful thing to do from a sporting club and other stakeholders as well as being a prime example of how communities and people can be brought closer together through sport. Well done to the Phoenix.

Western Sydney Wanderers

To round things out and to ensure the growth of football across Australia it’s great to see that the Wanderers are taking a game to the bush and visiting Mudgee in November. Now that’s an away day game not to be missed.

I’ll be heading along to the Wanderers A/W-League games in Sydney on November 23/24 and as always keen to chat to fans. Let me know if you’re attending and up for a chat.

Thus concludes a quick recap of the fan engagement initiatives from across the A-League clubs as we get underway with the 2018/19 season tonight.

I believe that the passion from the fans is the strongest in Australian sport and needs to be harnessed even more from FFA and the teams however I think they’re doing that well with this list showcasing some key tenets of what fan engagement should be about such as inclusion, authenticity and actively listening to fans. 

The positivity around football in Australia continues to build so regardless of what team you support lets all continue to bring the atmosphere to game days and get out there and pack the venues.

Bring on another fantastic season of football in Australia with the A-League and W-League seasons! 

2018 NRL Team By Team Fan Engagement Review

The 2018 NRL season has come and gone faster than a $2.50 NRL match day chiko roll at ANZ Stadium but what a year it has been for rugby league fans and members who have been well looked after and rewarded by their respective teams.

Whether it be venue fan first pricing offers for members on food and beverages, a focus on emerging technologies or the inclusive approach of introducing a female mascot, 2018 has seen an outstanding array of quality fan engagement initiatives for NRL fans. With the main decider taking place on Sunday, this recap featuring 250+ images shines a light on some of the 200+creative and compelling strategies, ideas and incentives that NRL club members and league fans were rewarded with over the course of the season by teams, venues and sponsors.

Having compiled this summary it is evident that some of the trends within the global fan engagement space have worked their way into the NRL and down to club level such as:

  • Fan first pricing at venues on F&B
  • Craft beer partnerships
  • Mini-documentaries 
  • Podcasting
  • Unique venue sponsor social seating spaces
  • Female mascots
  • Venue art works
  • Incorporation of Facebook Live for team TV shows
  • Game day light and sound shows 
  • Fan/member councils

While the latest and greatest in technology is often seen as a major focus within fan engagement, it is important to note that the types of fan engagement that are consistently highly regarded and well received by fans are the simple and authentic things which go such a long way in building that lifelong loyalty to the club as put simply, fan engagement can never be manufactured.

From a free flag and a surprise and delight gift under a members seat to guards of honour, members of the week or just having a player call a fan personally, there are so many simple, cost effective and creative ideas here which the NRL clubs have implemented for their fans this year. The RT’s and fan comments on social around these fan engagement activations and initiatives speak for themselves as NRL members and fans are positive about the game and about what their club is doing for them.

The summary below is by no means the definitive list of every NRL clubs’ fan engagement ideas or strategies however it certainly touches on a vast array of ideas from the tried and tested, quirky and interesting to some really creative, effective and exciting developments in fan engagement.

Thanks to the NRL fans who helped with suggestions for this article as well as the club and venue reps who provided me with some more information for activations and ideas that I wasn’t aware of.

Did you see something else out there that should be included too? Join the conversation on Twitter here or comment below.

I hope you enjoy this read fellow NRL fans and if you do enjoy this then feel free to read my monthly fan engagement publication FANS HQ or continue reading my blog which features close to 200 diverse global game day fan experience reviews along with many of my other published writing efforts.

Ok, lets get started…..

BRISBANE BRONCOS

  • The Paddock Club outside set up at Suncorp Stadium with food trucks, live bands and more

Further reading: Broncos game day review in FANS HQ #5

CANBERRA RAIDERS

  • Unveiling of the Canberra Raiders new female mascot Velda the Valkyrie and Valkyrie brand
  • Behind The Limelight Podcast
  • Dance School Competition for young fans to dance on game days at GIO Stadium
  • Viking clap continued going from strength to strength in 2018
  • Members Appreciation Round thanking fans for reaching 20,000 members for the first time in the clubs history
  • Lucky door prizes for members in the West Members lounge
  • Autograph Alley – 10 Junior Members invited to meet the team pre-game
  • Coin Toss 
  • Spin and Win half time activation where one fan won 50K this season
  • Warm-Up to watch the team warm-up
  • 40 Members lined up in the tunnel as the team ran out during the Viking clap and when the team took to the field after half time
  • 17 lucky members got a signed football from a player at full-time
  • Members could feature on a bottle of sponsor Canberra Milk’s choc mint bottles plus collect the player ones as well
  • ‘The Forever Green’ match that sees 60 old boys come back to the club for a guard of honour and to mingle with fans

CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS

  • Bulldogs $5 Fan Club ticket offer that let 2 adults and 2 kids in for $5 during one of the final rounds
  • Ticketing incentives like member’s being allowed to bring two mates along for free to experience a Bulldogs game
  • Coach’s Game Plan checklist
  • Bulldogs Family Zone including player post, blue member’s carpet, rides and inflatables
  • Fans First Initiatives at ANZ Stadium on F&B, ticket prices, free transport
  • Giveaways that included Metro thunder sticks, Justice league bars, chupa chups and chocolate
  • KIA Car VR driving experience, KIA Inflatable goal posts, KIA sideline experience
  • Kindi Farm (Petting Zoo)
  • McDonalds face painting
  • Roaming balloonist
  • Dream street Dance clinic
  • Pre-game Sapphires cheerleaders performances
  • Player farewell cards at Member Appreciation Round
  • 18 jersey presentation
  • Match ball delivered by a member
  • Pre-game jersey reveal
  • KIA Car giveaway at HALF-TIME
  • Members guard of honour
  • Members given the opportunity to watch team warm up on field
  • Players fathers guard of honour
  • Members guard of honour
  • Interview a Bulldog from young fans
  • First Year Members Function
  • #BeBrave.…this was outstanding from the club and this fan
  • Players like Aiden Tolman wishing fans happy birthdays
  • Member’s free pie and water offers on game day
  • Mystery packs for kids
  • ‘We Win, You Win’ sponsor deals
  • Simple to read and understand maps and game day guides for fans to get the most out of the day

Further reading: Bulldogs game day review from FANS HQ #7

CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS

  • Thank You to Emergency Services workers with free entry for these community legends
  • The Ultimate Upgrade Experience seating area 
  •  venue art work of this fierce shark at Allianz Stadium during the finals
  • Sharks TV Facebook Live show
  • Ticketing incentives- Bring a mate for $15
  • Members and fans invited onto the field after a win to join the players in singing the team song
  • Collectable pins for 2018 members
  • Trivia Night
  • F&B game day combos
  • Fan of the Week

Further reading: Sharks game day review from FANS HQ #8

GOLD COAST TITANS

  • Use of NightLife’s CrowdDJ platform to enable fans to select the game day playlist
  • Fans guard of honour
  • Free caps when fans buy a round of drinks
  • Player social takeovers
  • Free signed Deadly Choices jerseys from Preston Campbell when fans signed up for a health check
  • NAIDOC Event
  • F&B ticketing incentives
  • Two For One So Bring Mum ticketing deal for Women In League round
  • Holiday Clinics
  • Titans Talent Time

MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA-EAGLES

  • ‘Member of the month
  • Ticketing incentives such as two for one general admission
  • Sit in the ute on the hill and watch the game
  • Bird Gang match day helpers
  • SeaEagles Member Council
  • Beer & Pie F&B combo deals
  • Inflatables and kids activities
  • ’18th Man for NZ’
  • Thank you sign upon exiting is a nice touch as fans exit the venue
  • Guard of Honour for NRL players by fans with a female only fans for the Women In League round
  • 2018 Member of the Year
  • Members baby race
  • Surprise and Delight’ Member seat visits
  • $3 Mrs Mac’s Pie Vouchers for the first 300 fans to take advantage of at the Member Appreciation Round game
  • ‘Member Lawn’ area on season launch day where members were given direct access to the stars of the club
  • ‘Legend Of The Week’
  • Member Experiences
  • Post match laps of honour
  • Also pretty much the only club I’ve seen who consistently asked for fan feedback after every round on the match day experience in an effort to continually improve the game day for fans. Other teams did end of season surveys however it was just good to see this being a visible focus from the Sea-Eagles week in week out this year.

Further reading: Sea Eagles game day review from FANS HQ #3

MELBOURNE STORM

  • Projections on the AAMI Park roof and ‘Stadium Black Out’ with an electrifying pre-game featuring light shows, Billy & Hoffy tribute packages and roof projections
  • ‘Storm Man’, roving ‘Blimp Cam’ and ‘Oblivious Cam’ screen content fun
  • Colourful fan zone with VR activities and football skills drills
  • Free skills clinics
  • Ticketing incentives such as $3 tickets for first 300 fans for Billy Slater’s 300th game, bring the kids for free and Tight-arse Tuesday where fans got 50% tickets
  • Brick Lane craft beer partnership…not a bad drop at all and available in Edwin’s Cafe under the ground pre-game
  • Free TRY signs for fans
  • Nova Casanovas and NOVA DJs
  • Live pre-game concerts hosted by Molly Meldrum
  • Big Purple Splash with celebrities and the CEO dunked into purple water in the middle of AAMI Park
  • Multicultural Festival with food trucks
  • Cheerleader clinic for young fans
  • Open training sessions for fans young and old. 
  • Player meet and greets
  • ‘Kick on the Field’ at AAMI Park after the game
  • Billy’s Buddies membership for kids. One of the best kids memberships in the NRL
  • Half-time activations like a random schnitzel eating comp in partnership with fast food company Schnitz

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS

  • Inner sanctum pre-game on-field experiences
  • Inflatables and kids activities inside and out of McDonald Jones Stadium
  • Member’s entry line
  • Great family friendly activities at home games for the kids like face painting, balloons, petting zoos and jumping castles.
  • The Knights put a call out for fans to send their photos for Members Appreciation Round and a bunch were placed in the tunnel for the team to see during training and game day. Thanks to Knights member for this information and some of the pics below 
  • ‘Surprise and Delight’ for fans with game day giveaways and surprises
  • NIB Fortress social space
  • Free pins and posters for fans
  • Female fans names on back of players kits during Women In League round
  • Kalyn Ponga going out of his way for this young fan
  • The ‘Kick For a Car’ comp which saw this fan win the car after a cracking 40m kick. 

Further reading: Knights game day review from FANS HQ #7

NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS

  • Choose your own ticket price for the final home game. Tickets started at $5 but fans could pay whatever they wanted to
  • Vodafone and Mt Smart match day App. Some good fan experience ideas here.
  • Half time activation that was linked to an awareness campaign against drinking and driving. Two teams of fans competed on a relay obstacle race but with alcohol goggles on
  • Creation of only 100 exclusive ‘Mannering 300’ tees that fans could only buy during the game. These proved so successful that the fans asked for more quantity and the club agreed to doing pre-orders
  • Operation ‘Bring your banners for Manners which saw the club ask the fans to bring along their personalised banners. Thanks to @LGruffat for some tips here.
  • All Girls Football Clinic
  • Season ticket reductions. The Warriors announced that all 2019 reserved seat full season memberships have been reduced to just $199 in an effort to sell out every game in 2019. A huge win for fans this year.
  • They held the ‘Great Charity Day’ where fans raised tens of thousands of dollars
  • Be The Band music comp launched to find the house band at Mt Smart Stadium game days
  • They play other NRL games in the ground before the main game on the big screen
  • Quality kids membership packs
  • Mannering art work around the venue
  • Womens NRLW trial match and fan engagement
  • Member’s Appreciation Round
  • The creative and cheeky digital work on social from the Warriors digital team
  • There is also a fantastic fan experience review of the NZ Warriors here from Fan Striker

NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS


 

PARRAMATTA EELS

  • Eels Member’s Council
  • Eels Fan Experience game day helpers team
  • Fans First Initiatives at ANZ Stadium on F&B, ticket prices, free transport
  • Member’s Lounge 47 with live entertainment, complimentary finger food & player appearances
  • Member Appreciation Round with FREE Rd 25 Flag Saturday Flag for the first 2000 fans
  • Members of the Month
  • 100% Attendance Winners joined the clubs 40 year + Members in the Guard of Honour
  • The Eels hid special giveaways and thank you plaques to fans in between seats at ANZ Stadium
  • Their ‘Game Day Guide’ is one of the best in the NRL and clearly shows fans the map of the venue as well as whats going on around the ground
  • Super Flag Saturday’s where the first 2000 fans received a flag on entry for Saturday games

PENRITH PANTHERS

  • Member’s pricing on F&B with the cheapest game day beer in Australia at $5.50
  • The Stand Up! Flags Up! campaign. The club’s call to arms where fans were encouraged to make their own Panthers flag, bring one from home or buy one from the Panther Shop. The main thing was to get involved and it worked incredibly well. Here’s some vision of when I attended in round one.

  • Panthers Local Hero recognized the local legends in the Panthers community
  • Player Playlist Takeover
  • ‘Play Like a Panther’ Clinic
  • Josh Mansour player resigning announcement played on the big screen at a home game in May
  •  venue art work featuring this mean looking Panther during the finals game at Allianz Stadium
  • $10 away game Panthers Bus to take fans to other matches around NSW
  • Old Boys Day
  • FREE Panthers Banger Sticks and Try Banners
  • Tooheys New Members Badge Draw. One fan below walked away with 12K on game day just for being in attendance
  • Kidz Korner with carnival rides including The Ferris Wheel, Pirate Ship, Swinging Chair Ride, Tiger Castle and The Storm which are all FREE for kids of all ages.
  • Free face painting and hair spray station for kids

Further reading: Panthers game day review from FANS HQ #3

SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS

ST.GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS

 

  • Family Hill featured great activities for the kids with a jumping castle, green screen fun, face painters and the Dragons ‘pass the ball’ board.
  • ‘Sing To Win’ match day competition which gave fans the chance to win a $250 EFTPOS gift card thanks to Coca-Cola. To participate fans had to purchase a Coca-Cola product at the stadium and when the announcer asked them to stand up and sing they then showed the crowd their karaoke skills by singing into the Coca-Cola product.
  • Flag giveaways. 2000 free flags for fans
  • Regional game in Mudgee, NSW and member’s events
  • NRLW Player meet and greet with fans
  • ‘Fired Up’ Dance Cam
  • Signing Sessions
  • ‘Win a Spot’ in the team photo
  • Toowoomba Member’s Event
  • The heart warming story of the work that @TheNRLRoast and the Dragons player Jeremy Latinate did by trying to get a family with a child suffering from cerebral palsy into a training session before the Anzac Day game. The player helped the family get from Sydney and into a closed training session. All the players came up and got photos with the young fan and signed all his merch.

Further reading: Dragons game day review from FANS HQ #7

SYDNEY ROOSTERS

  • Rocky Run experience
  • Ticketing incentives like 30% off tix to celebrate 30 years at Allianz Stadium
  • Stand Up For a Jersey. Bisley WorkWear Make Yourself Visable competition to win a 2018 Roosters jersey
  • Ball Kid of the Game
  • World First jersey exchange with the team on the look out to upgrade old Roosters fans jerseys with a brand new 2018 jersey
  • Free popcorn on game days and row upgrades from sponsor Hoyts
  • The Roosters players featured the names of their mums in place of the sponsor logo on their jerseys in the Women In League round
  • Meet the NRLW Roosters players
  • Anniversary members lap of honour. Fans with 10, 20 etc year memberships got to walk around the ground pre-game
  •  stunning Roosters art work
  • Member’s BBQ

Further reading: Roosters game day review from FANS HQ #8

WESTS TIGERS

  • This Day Forward. The superb documentary series from the Tigers digital team. A must watch for all rugby league fans. They played this on the big screen before a game as well which was a nice idea to get fans into the ground earlier
  • Wests Tigers won the 2018 NRL Club Community Program of the Year for the club’s Varying Abilities Program
  • Free weekly wallpapers for fans mobiles and desktops from the digital team- a simple and nice touch for fans
  • Free TRY signs at games
  • Benji signing and giving away his boots to the young fan below
  • Fans First Initiatives at ANZ Stadium on F&B, ticket prices, free transport
  • KIA photo booth
  • Face Painting
  • Holiday clinics
  • Indigenous Round initiatives and activities for fans including: Traditional painting and didgeridoo lessons, Indigenous performances, Smoke ceremony performed by Muggera Dance Group, Clontarf Academy indigenous rugby league team game, Traditional Gift Exchange, Dance performances by Muggera Dance Group, Boot collection for regional communities. Additional pics from  and 
  • Wests Tigers fan bus #OnTheBus

Final note: 99% of the images here are mine having been taken on game days this year while traversing the grounds. I have however used images sourced from fans, venues and teams across their websites and social. Having previously worked in the music industry with photographers I am very conscious of respecting photographers copyright and work whether they be fan or professional. I have used some images under ‘fair use’ simply to highlight these fan engagement initiatives and have tried to credit everyone where possible. This article is also free and does not have any commercial gain attached to it. If you would like to be credited or have your photo removed please let me know and I will be happy to oblige with your demands. Thanks

The Importance and Benefits of Harnessing Fan Generated Content: An NRL 2018 Case Study

If it’s one part of the fan engagement spectrum that I have consistently championed over the years for clubs and my clients it has been to acknowledge, promote, utilise and harness the diverse skill sets of their fans. 

Fans have skills that can help a club in many ways whether it be from graphic design to podcasting and what we’re seeing more and more of is that teams are realising that they can create deeper emotional loyalty, new revenue opportunities and provide extra engaging content to their members and fans by working alongside these fan groups. 

Teams like the MLS Seattle Sounders are one of the best in the business when it comes to harnessing the skills of their fans. Every year they do a ‘Posters By The People‘ and a scarf design contest which allows Sounders fans of all ages and skill levels to contribute match day poster and scarf designs which are then voted on for by fellow fans and either used across the clubs official social media channels or produced for fans to wear on game day respectively.

It’s an incredibly effective and simple way to bring these fans closer to the team, highlight the skills and passions of their fans and overall it’s a positive thing to do. It’s not going to work for every team and it’s certainly never going to take over from the quality output that team staff do but it’s just a great look for a club to illustrate that they’re listening to their fans.

 

One reason for the proliferation of fan generated content has been because the barriers for entry into both graphic design and podcasting for instance have been broken down. You can now create quality designs and effective podcasts as a result of free design platforms like Canva whose intuitive platform enables anyone to get started creating content as well as podcasting’s explosion which has seen every man and his dog set up a podcast with the very basic of equipment. For both graphic design and podcasting the costs are also much lighter on the fans wallet these days as opposed to the past where expensive graphic design software and a recording studio would have stopped many fans from getting started. 

Now obviously the vast majority of fan generated content creators out there are not at the level of professional graphic designers or creating professional studio recorded quality podcasts such as what the league or teams contribute however what it does do is highlight that fans have these skills, that they’re building their own fan groups of fellow supporters of the same team and that their voice and that of fans voices globally are growing louder every day as they realise that they can create content that is highlighting their love for their team.

It’s impressive to see the rise and rise of the fan voice across the globe as they can now create content that other fans enjoy and engage with. Clubs should absolutely start tapping into this more and more as it shows an appreciation of the fans effort and compliments the work that their in house teams do whether that be in writing, podcasting, graphic design or other related fields. 

I recently posted this thread on Twitter highlighting the creative efforts of NRL fan content creators here in Australia after what has been a stellar year for the code with ratings, revenue, memberships, crowds all up as well as the establishment of the NRLW and games in Perth and Denver.

The game’s greatest asset is the fan so it is important to acknowledge these fans as they are constantly pumping out the positive, passionate and engaging content and I feel this illustrates my point that it is both vital and rewarding for clubs to find ways to engage, highlight, promote and harness the diverse range of skills of their fans as it is a win-win positive thing to do.

1. Podcasters

Having worked very closely in the podcasting space in recent times I have seen the rise of people wanting to get their passion into podcasting and as I said above the barriers have now decreased with a very basic bedroom podcasting set up costing well under $100. Podcast quality has also increased so while some pods may not be at a high quality level, whats happening is that fans are getting better the longer they stick with it. There’s also an incredibly strong community amongst these podcasters too. They do it for the love of the game. They promote each other and therefore that of the game and their team. They are broadcasters and should be taken seriously. 

Some of the podcasters out there in the NRL include:

Ladies Who League

Oh Errol

Full Credit To The Boys

The Full 80

Shark Cast

Fifth And Last

Progressive Rugby League

League Life NRL

Roosters Radio

Panthers Weekly

Dead in Goal

NRL Roast

Woody & Slugs Do League

Fire Up On FBI

This Week In League

Sports Best Friends

League Digest

Zero Tackle

NRL Boom Rookies

Fins Up Pod

League Counsel

ASD Podcast

View From The East Stand

2. Statistics/Game Data

Fans like stats guru Andrew Ferguson who runs one of the best league sites out there in Rugby League Project is an incredible fan generated site which houses a massive range of rugby league data and is an absolute credit to the game. I find myself using this site a lot as do other NRL fans. Another fan doing good things with stats is pythagoNRL.

3. Sports Science

In a classic case of a fan using their diverse skills to offer the rest of us an insight into player injuries and recovery, the NRL Physio has provided some really interesting insights and analysis for NRL fans this year. The NRL should find a way to utilise his skills as fans have greatly enjoyed his insights and graphics in real time during games on social as he provides game player injuries and recovery information and analysis. He knows he’s not affiliated with the NRL and that what he says is only his opinion however he has built an incredibly strong trust with fellow fans as a result of his skills and willingness to want to contribute to his passion.

4. Independent Broadcasters

The independent fan NRL media, broadcasters and writers like The 81st Minute, Steele Sport, League Unlimited, Nothing But NRL, Steve Mascord, James Smith, RLeagueLive, JasonNRL and even to an extent ‘The Fan which while it may be shown on Fox Sports is run by mega league fan Andrew Voss who consistently provides outstanding behind the scenes storytelling that fans greatly enjoy. 

5. Fan Club Social Accounts

The NRL fan club accounts across social constantly provide fellow fans with a passionate atmosphere at games as well as insights and analysis throughout the week and add to the stories and content from the club but from their perspective as hardcore fans.

Some of these include: 

NRL Bulldogs Fans

Nothing But Knights

The Greenhouse- Canberra Raiders

Red V Mail- St George-Illawarra Dragons

NZ Warriors Die Hards

The Burrow- Souths

Wests Tigers Hub

Titans Legion- Gold Coast Titans

NQ Stampede- NQ Cowboys

Eels The Cumberland Throw- Parramatta

6. Social Commentators

The often hilarious NRL social commentators who constantly provide cheeky laughs, clever analysis, interesting stats, glorious memories as well as cutting through the media bullshit, crisis merchants and spin that often snakes its way into the game. In fact what we’ve seen this year is that as a result of the positives in the game as well as the huge level of fan generated content and these positive fan voices in NRL that fans have collectively called out the rubbish reporting and negativity in rugby league. 

Some of the accounts to follow on Twitter for instance include:

Boring NRL Guy

Sports Freakshow

Former Legend

Karate Warrior 2

Winfield Cup

NRL Grammar Cop

Simpsons NRL 

7. The Graphic Designers

The graphic designers like  and  as well as others who’ve put their own skills and spin on things to create interesting NRL content like jersey designs and artworks are to be applauded. Perhaps a game day poster idea could be something teams could think about for 2019 and then have these around town prior to a game to promote the match. 

8. The Hardcore Fans

And then there’s fans like who travelled 19259.4kms for 24/24 Parramatta Eels matches this year, documenting his journey along the way for fellow NRL fans to enjoy. What were some of the other great NRL fan stories you enjoyed from 2018?

Overall it’s been a huge positive year for both the NRL and NRL fans and I just wanted to put this together before the start of the NRL finals to shine a light on some of the creative content creators and fans out there who go above and beyond for the game. League’s greatest asset is the fan and the faster clubs around the globe realise the benefits of working closer with these particular fans and their skills, the more the game, fans and the code as a whole will grow together.

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