Gen Z and Our Premium Spaces

While many teams are struggling trying to figure out how to relate to their Gen Z employees, others are viewing how to sell to this generation now and down the road. What we do know is that Gen Z is on track to become the most educated group in our history, keenly aware of business, finances, and strategies. We know they are very digital savvy and very social conscious and prefer a more diverse workplace and outside of workspace. Many started their own businesses as teenagers and are already successful entrepreneurs upon graduating high school and are fine tuning that business acumen with college business courses.  

Taking what we know about Gen Z, how do we adapt our thinking to be able to sell in the remaining 2020s and into the 2030s? 

Instead of utilizing our method of selling "to" a B2B, start "collaborative" selling. 

The Gen Z group are our most ethnically diverse generation and are not totally trusting. For years, we have sold B2B by using a ‘selling to them’ philosophy, whether it be suite leases, premium spaces, etc. that they could use to ‘improve their bottom line.’ But Gen Z is not a four walls kind of group. They don’t totally trust our promises of what our product does for them. And more importantly, they are very keen on knowing when these words are rolling off our tongues or said with conviction and proof. How do we build this trust and change our methods? 

Most important to them is giving back to society and collaborating. How do we do this when we are selling our prime real estate in our venues? We will need to take away the concept of what it will do for their business. It can be mentioned, but that shouldn’t be the key focus. More of the focus should be on collaborating with them as to how to use our spaces in an entirely new way. 

One Gen Z owned company I spoke with said, “sitting down with me and talking about how this space in your venue can do something useful for society if I buy it is far more meaningful to me.” We discussed options such as utilizing their space for Gen Z B2B gatherings during which they discuss before our events ways in which they can band together and give back. We discussed using the spaces for their company members and people in society that matter to them: sharing the space for a game with those from a social cause or different cultures that they want to bring together. When we discussed utilizing for what matters to them in society, the conversation flowed with ideas and excitement. What we stand for will either make or break large deals with this generation. 

It's not about the price; it’s about the value. And clearly, not the value we’ve expressed the past 10 or 20 years. 

One thing came through loud and clear: they don’t want to be sold to as we have done since the beginning of entertainment. They want to be connected with and for us to show how we support their philosophy. Value is key to them. The price is secondary. It’s more about social accountability. A young Gen Z woman told me she and her business have decided to do business with the WNBA as they stand for social justice. The key is: she and her business decided to do business with them. They will do business with those institutions that back the causes they are about… social justice, homelessness, diversity, inclusion, etc. Gen Z will choose who to do business with based on what we stand for. 

How transparent is your organization and more importantly, how transparent are you? 

Transparency is important to this generation. Gone are the days of ‘pushing the sale’ and instead will be the days of listening, being open and honest, and not promising a bill of goods. It’s going to be if we are sincere or lip service about causes. If we can fulfill what they want, they will buy up our spaces. If we want to provide black and white usage, they will seek other avenues of entertainment.  

Utilizing food and beverage and digital platforms.

This generation enjoys eating out and easily supports a digital platform. In utilizing our premium spaces, we need to adapt to this.  To this generation, the all-inclusive areas aren’t as important to them. What is? If they can order from a restaurant digitally and have it ready when they arrive. They should be able to expect that same opportunity with us. Wider choices with vegan, gluten free, healthy fresh options, etc. and having these digitally available will encourage their use of our premium spaces. iPads and tablets in the social suites for digital ordering with prompt responses and estimated wait times will put them in the driver’s seat. Making payments through their phones will encourage more spending. Adapting our food and beverage platforms over the next few years from choices to making them more digitally appealing will increase our hospitality sales and revenue considerably.  

Our sales process needs to shift from calling to social media with the calls after the contacts have prequalified themselves. 

This group is very financially savvy and before they will spend with us, they look to online ratings and reviews (do we have them?) and then discuss with peers instead of going through sales reps. To sell our premium spaces, our method of selling has to adjust to building our organization’s hospitality options visible on every social media platform in a way that allows engagement. We need to not be afraid to share stories, discuss hesitation and solutions and be transparent. They are the most digitally advanced generation, so we need to adapt to this way of selling and marketing as well as provide mobile autopay options or specific app pay. 

Adapting the size of some of our hospitality areas to fit a more social area.

Multi-use spaces fit Gen Z very well and cost is not the issue. Their groups are smaller, so perhaps four, five, or six will get together instead of filling a premium space of 16. Mixing and mingling is not a problem for them. Taking a hospitality area and making it a ‘social area’ enables this generation to buy through their phone up to six spots, order their food digitally, and have it brought to the suite while mixing and mingling with others. They are used to renting a shared workspace… why are we not viewing our areas as the same? 

The next 5 years will be an exciting transition in sports and entertainment as we look at utilizing our spaces differently, collaborating with our potential buyers, and redesigning our sales process. Start the planning process now and incorporate Gen Z into it. The changing mindset will usher in a new generation of sales.


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