There was every reason to think that people would never come back. A devastating pandemic had stolen thousands of lives. Mass gatherings were banned, businesses failed, and the nation’s economy was left in tatters. But being the social animals that humans are, people did come back, and they returned in droves. Because they were fans. When the Spanish Flu pandemic and postwar recession finally ebbed in 1920, Major League Baseball set new attendance records. Rising from the ashes, sports entered what historians consider its Golden Era, launching a rapid expansion built around the likes of Ruth, Dempsey, and Grange, names that in large part helped put the roar into the Roaring Twenties.
The professional sports industry thrives because successful teams know how to present live and digital experiences in ways that leverage the loyalty and passion of their customers. They recognize that fans can more easily enjoy an exceptional remote experience at little or no cost from the convenience and comfort of their own homes, in ultra-high definition with multi-channel digital sound, and with reliable connectivity to their choice of social media platforms. Yet, teams filled their venues because they successfully established the stadium or arena as the deepest and best platform for fan engagement, worth the expense and inconvenience of attending between 8 and 81 home games each season.
In the commercial real estate business, every day is a home game, and a new competitor has entered the arena — one that has been adopted at a pace previously unimaginable. The nearly universal requirement to work remotely during the COVID-19 lockdown demonstrated to tenants that at least some level of productivity can still be maintained when the workforce is physically separated from the workplace. Though not nearly as compelling, collaborative, or socially fulfilling as participating as an active part of a team in the physical work environment, remote working is inarguably cheaper and more convenient.
The commercial real estate industry has joined the sports business in vying for dominance over the at-home experience. There has never been a greater opportunity – or necessity – to ensure the commercial workplace is the deepest and best platform for employee engagement, innovation, and collaboration. To accomplish that in the post-COVID 19 world will require both new thinking, and the strategic application of technological and live experience solutions that address every touchpoint of our tenants’ workday journey.
In the early 2000s, although NFL stadiums were technically sold out, the league was facing increasingly noticeable no-show rates at stadiums across the country. When we set out to determine why, we discovered that many factors — both inside and outside of our buildings, but most of them unrelated to the competition on the field — powerfully shaped attitudes about attending a game in person. Fans hated being stuck in traffic and finding parking. They were frustrated when greeted by long queues at the gates and ambivalent stadium workers. They were unexcited by homogenous, unimaginative, and expensive food choices. And, they missed many of the things that made the at-home experience so attractive to fans – better connectivity to keep tabs on statistics and their fantasy teams, analysis by compelling commentators, and access to multi-camera replays.
We began to realize that game day was a “driveway-to-driveway” experience, and that fans made their decisions to attend a game based on more than just the two competing teams. Understanding and facilitating the fan’s journey to the stadium, mapping who they encountered, where they went, how they were managed inside the gates, and studying the postgame egress experience were transformational to addressing how to re-energize a fan’s eagerness to come to more games. Only by fully evaluating the game day experience holistically could we begin to apply the right combination of live and digital experience solutions to help change the value-equation.
To enhance the Super Bowl fan experience, we added an interactive platform that enabled us to communicate with fans before they left their homes and hotels, sharing real-time traffic and mass transit information, directing them to available parking, and guiding arriving guests to the gates with the shortest waiting lines. We added information on where to get the kinds of food they were most interested in, improved Wi-Fi connectivity, trained thousands of staff, presented more replays, and developed pre-game content that featured incisive commentary on the game and many of the highly-entertaining commercials that fans would miss when coming to the stadium.
How are your tenants and their teammates like sports fans? They, too, see their workday as a driveway-to-driveway experience. They encounter pain points before and after arriving at your building and while working on your campus. Tenants want conveniences – both personal and business-oriented – that are as good or better as those they enjoy when working remotely. We cannot control the outcome of their business endeavors any more than a fan can truly control the final score of a game. But we can improve the value-equation of coming there, being there, and re-establishing the workplace as the deepest and best platform for the engagement of our tenants’ teammates.
It is more important than ever to design your building’s experience at every touchpoint, digitally and physically, not only to meet the tenants’ needs, but to convert them into being fans of your building. We’re here to help.
Frank Supovitz, an award-winning experience designer, producer, event organizer, and author, has played a leading role in the success of such world-class properties as the Super Bowl, the Indy 500, and the South Street Seaport in New York City. A respected global thought-leader in sports, entertainment, and facilities management, he brings more than three decades of expertise to the HqO Team as a senior consultant for Tenant Experience.
Contact HqO to put our Tenant Experience team to work for you.