Technology and Your Customer

Elisa Padilla, Vice President, The Howard Hughes Corporation
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Elisa Padilla, Vice President, The Howard Hughes Corporation

Elisa Padilla, Vice President, The Howard Hughes Corporation

As technology continues to evolve and change daily, marketers need to know that a guest/fan experience at a venue is connected to the device in their hand. Today, everyone wants to share their experience; good or bad and everyone is a content producer whether we like it or not. Things have changed since I started in my career many years ago when we still used fax machines.

In 2012, I was part of the team that opened Barclays Center, a start-of-the-art arena in the heart of downtown Brooklyn. Our approach to everything we did included technology and our guest, first and top of mind. We developed a venue APP for our guests. The APP was to be used as a utility tool to help guests navigate their way through the arena. Once the venue opened we quickly learned that we wanted to make enhancements to the APP as we were learning about our guest’s habits.

One change we wanted to implement was in seat ordering. From an operations perspective we weren’t set up to deliver food to seats. We knew that this was important to our guest/fans and we needed to figure it out, quickly. We designed a program within our APP where fans could order food in the upper concourse and pick up their order at a certain concession stand. We had high hopes for consumer adaptation. We used our marketing powerhouse machine to promote this benefit to our arena guests; communication plan included event email communication, social posts and signage. Consumer behavior is tough to change and influence when consumers have a certain way of behaving when attending an event. The change in consumer behavior took time; however, we learned quickly that our communication plan had to be continuous.

 We used our marketing powerhouse to promote to fans; communication plan included event email communication, social posts, website and full-page ads in the game program 

APPs are extremely useful. A venue APP is different than a sports team APP. On the sports team side, the APP is about fan engagement, providing fans with exclusive content, it’s a one to one touch point that continues to build fan affinity. During my time in Brooklyn, one of the features that we believed in was the game replay option within the team’s APP. We wanted to provide the fans with the opportunity to watch a play that they might has missed or one that they wanted to watch over while at the game live. We worked with our APP developer and arena-technology company to ensure this was available to our fans without any glitches. Again, the education process to tell fans about this feature was key. We used our marketing powerhouse to promote to fans; communication plan included event email communication, social posts, website and full-page ads in the game program. We saw fans use this feature; however, we had to continue to communicate game after game to reinforce the offering.

Key learnings from the two examples above are just because you built it doesn’t mean they will use it and you must be very sharp in your communication plan to change consumer behavior. Venue guests and fans have a specific way of behaving when attending an event or game. What’s the value to the guest/fan to change their behavior? The keyword is value. How does your offering enhance their experience? Bottom line is you need to think of your customer, first.

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