Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Five Observations from #SEATLondon

Last week witnessed the inaugural European SEAT Conference, an event at which I was privileged to be asked to co-host a CRM Workshop (thanks Fiona!). For the uninitiated, SEAT (or Sports & Entertainment Alliance in Technology) is run by the irrepressible Christine Stoffel and has been a major date in the US calendar for the best part of a decade. Its content is like nothing else I am aware of in the UK but it's vitally important in my view that SEAT and other events like it go from strength to strength over here.

Here are a few observations from the day (there would have been more but I had to leave early as my wife started contracting!):

"Do you put an ROI Model on Urinals?"
Kicking off with what was probably the quote of the day, the impressive Bob Jordan of Van Wagner sports summed up succinctly why we're asking the wrong questions about whether or not to install High Density Wifi at venues. A recent post on this blog made exactly the same argument, I just needed about 250 more words.

Focus on UX => User Adoption => Revenues
This argument was reinforced by a very insightful case study on the Wifi solution installed for last year's Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. It was made very clear that the focus was on the user experience rather than immediately trying to sell stuff, arguing that unless people actually wanted to download and use the accompanying mobile app the whole exercise was pretty futile. It was refreshing to hear and unlike pretty much any other conversation I've had on the HD Wifi RoI model. And guess what, the high levels of user adoption led to more than £14m in revenues over the platform.

The Model is there to be Challenged
Continuing that theme, the busiest access point during the Ryder Cup was in the beer tent. Of course the nature of golf lends itself more to customer downtime but it just highlights the opportunities that are there if we are prepared to build additional content around the main sporting content. If the current model doesn't lend itself to new ways of engaging with fans, create something new that does.

Content isn't just Consumed
Another interesting stat from the day was that more data was uploaded than downloaded at Madison Square Garden, adding more fuel to the argument that content creation is a two-way street. Fans these days expect to be able to engage in their own ways, share it with their network and if that means that they're not 100% focussed on the content you own, so be it, embrace the revolution and work out how to make money from it.

It's not what you want to sell, it's what they want to buy
An over-riding theme of the day in my mind was the difference in mindset between rightsholders in the US and over here. Yes, of course, there are many reasons why we can't just implement the US model in Europe and there is a natural inclination over here to dismiss the non-sport elements of the US "entertainment" model. There was also plenty of evidence to suggest that our friends in the States are a long way from demonstrating the finished article but they are just not afraid to try to get it right. What I love about the entertainment business in the US is their willingness to find new ways of making it easier for people to spend their money: they listen to what people like or don't like, they're prepared to innovate, to take a utilitarian view and will invest in the short term to drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and spend in the long-term. Even though we are a long way behind over here, I would hazard a guess that our American counterparts would still be prepared to listen to our experiences to see what else they could learn.

The great thing about the content at SEAT for me is that none of what was said is rocket science, it's eminently achievable in sport over here, we just need to be bothered to think about things slightly differently. Of course, some rightsholders have had some successes but we tend to nibble around the edges rather than commit to the concept of engaging our customers as a principle.

The next SEAT event is in San Francisco in July: I'd highly recommend taking a look.