Engage more with your fans. Reap the rewards.
GGS International joined the conversation at the first ever Fanalyse Euro Summit held in Cardiff on 17th November.
The first ever Fanalyse Euro summit was held at the impressive Principality Stadium (formerly known as the Millennium Stadium) with the aim of bringing together clubs, associations and fan experience businesses together to discuss current fan engagement topics and look firmly at how the fan experience can be improved as we charge forward in to the future. Here at GGS we were keen to be part of this unique event and hear from a wide range of speakers from clubs and teams who took to the stage to share their fan engagement experiences. We heard how they have been engaging with fans in more relevant ways such as match-day experiences, charitable initiatives and in a sign-of-the-times, virtual reality. And guess what? The clubs who shared their stories about improving the fan experience have been reaping the rewards ever since.
One of the first speakers of the day was Bart Wiley, COO of the Seattle Sounders FC. He delivered a passionate presentation about how he has led this US Major League football club from having 3000-4000 supporters attending each game to having over 20,000. He explained that by enhancing the match-day experience such as on-pitch promos, the ‘razzmatazz’ of extra event production and giving out free scarves to every season ticket holder, the Seattle Sounders FC supporters have swollen to near-capacity numbers. At every home game! You can see the level of fan engagement at the Sounders FC by just looking at their Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/SoundersFC
Bart also shared with us his experience of opening up the dialogue between his club and the fans. If you listen to your fans he told us – and are prepared to take both positive and negative feedback, then do something about it, fans will remain loyal to your club and ultimately your club ‘brand’.
Fans are willing to forget about poor performance on the pitch in the long run – that’s what being a loyal fan is all about for pretty much every club across the globe. However one of the themes that kept being repeated across the day was that clubs and associations must ensure that fans are made to feel valued and remain an important part of the whole club set-up. They spend a lot of money to attend every match, week in, week out. The message was clear: make sure your club or association invests in a range of fan initiatives, test a number of them and if they work and attendance numbers improve, keep refining them. Create moments. Your fans will be grateful. As will the board members and owners.
Another great example of fan engagement we heard during the day was about listening to and working with the local community, according to Scott Mcleod, Head of Engagement at Everton FC. He shared with the Fanalyse attendees a couple of stories about how Everton FC have helped to facilitate special match day experiences for sick children suggested to them by fans of the club. To say that the stories were moving and connected with fans across Liverpool was an understatement. The club had listened to their supporters and both recipients and fans were grateful in return.
Along with a strong line-up of speakers on the day at this impressive venue in the heart of Cardiff, it was also clear to see that technology - as with most industries these days - is helping to drive up fan engagement levels at venues across the UK. Take iBeacons using advanced Bluetooth & location-based technologies or the emergence of quality content delivered through Virtual Reality. It’s the type of fan engagement that GGS International has championed for a number of years and no doubt something we will be integrating more and more of in to our events as the technologies develop in the years ahead.
So, overall there were some great take-outs that emerged from this excellent Fanalyse 2016 Euro Summit:
- As a club or brand, don’t be afraid to try out new fan engagement techniques – especially fan parks when you have a big event to engage with fans at (GGS are experts at delivering these – check out our most recent one for Celebrate Celtic, held in the centre of Glasgow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZawYOBW57LM&t=1s)
- Make sure your club or association creates moments for fans that are memorable
- Keep improving the customer experience before, during and after each match
- Ensure your club and/or brand communicates effectively what it is you’re trying to achieve – across all levels of the organisation
- Have a look at what sporting associations and clubs in the USA are doing to engage with audiences. Along with the UK, USA clubs and sports are leaders in fan engagement. Proof was in the number of attendees in Cardiff who had crossed over the pond to attend Fanalyse.
So here at GGS we thoroughly enjoyed our day at Fanalyse 2016…and we’re very much looking forward to working with clubs and brands as an activation partner for their new and exciting fan engagement programmes in 2017 and beyond.