Volkswagen did a cultural immersion project a few years ago in China where they followed around Volkswagen drivers (and some other, very special drivers) to better understand their customers. Where did they go? What did they do? I mean, traction control is great, and so is a ‘sport’ mode… but if your customers don’t need it, why bother? If they’re constantly complaining that their windows stop working and they don’t have enough space in the boot, well, that’s what you want to know.
It ended up shedding some much needed light on car design and purpose to the car makers and when I read about it I just wondering when was the last time Australian sports did something like this?
If I were AFL CEO (I would settle for club CEO at this point), this would be my first order of business (or maybe my second order of business – the first would be to revamp the NAB Cup, you know that). I would go to games at every venue, at every price point (or get people to do it for me – I am only one person!) and every club to see what the fan experience is like. I would go alone – because a game day experience should be enough that you can go alone and not be bored – and do everything. I would do the following:
- Go to the game (obviously) – how long are the lines? Is security efficient, yet pleasant? How crowded is it? How is the view from the cheapest seats vs the most expensive? What happens when it’s raining? Really hot? Can you see the big screen?
- Buy tickets online and at the box office – which is more efficient?
- Take public transport to and from the game – is there enough space? Is it expensive? Is it fast enough? Convenient?
- Buy food – is it worth the money? Is there good selection? How many food stands are there?
- Buy merchandise – is it organised? Expensive? Lots to buy
- Talk to other game go-ers – what was the best part of their day? What was the worst?
Some people focus on the big things and that’s great – you have to get the big things right before you focus on the detail. But completely different people would focus on these things – the AFL has to get their competitive balance sorted out and clubs need to get better marketing, but they need a separate team to work on the game day experience. I have said again and again (and again and again…) that everyone needs to focus on the game day experience because that is what keeps fans. Immersing yourself in the experience to see the problems might not mean you can fix them straight away, but awareness is half the battle.
This doesn’t only apply to the AFL, even though that’s what I wrote the post about. Every league and big event can benefit from understand the fan experience. When was the last time the NRL sent someone to experience State of Origin and report back? Because that’s a bit of a drama. Uni Games does this in a way… lots of the employees take part in social program (not the drinking, of course) to see what the students do and how involved they are in the activities so they know what works and what doesn’t.
I can’t imagine that knowing more about your fan experience would be detrimental to your business. I can’t wait to conduct this experiment when I’m CEO. Do I have any volunteers that want to help me out?