She knows that taking clients out of the home team stadium raises eyebrows. She also knows that with a premium seat should come premium customer service. To that end, her team has created an undeniably white glove touch point program, complete with bucket list experiences made possible by being present for her clients. She’s Katie Grubbs, Associate Director, Premium Experience for the Tennessee Titans.
Can you explain your year-round client touch point initiative?
I am super proud of our year-round client touchpoint platform. The goal behind creating this platform was to ensure that we weren't just meeting our clients at 10 NFL games a year, when they're in the brick-and-mortar building, when they're popping in for a concert. It was created to capitalize on the fact that we're invested in them 365 days of the year, just as they're invested in us. It's about what we can do to always keep our brand and our relationships alive, even when our guys aren’t on the field. Whether a simple handwritten notes (my favorite thing), or understanding better our client demographics, we meet them with something that we know entices them. We have we have our technical gifting plans, and we have our special events.
But what we've really grown is our experiences. This was initially difficult to launch because when you talk about experiences, you're often talking about taking clients into competitors’ markets, utilizing others’ products for your gain. Five years ago, folks will look at you dead in the face and ask, “Well, why do I want to take our clients, the Tennessee Titans, to an Atlanta Braves game?”
And to that, we said: because as the Tennessee Titans, we're going to host our clients there. We're going to turn another venue or experience into value for our clients. This year alone, we did a trip to the 2022 Pro Bowl, a trip to the Masters, and before the Masters, we caught Braves home opener.
(Cat bumps desk) That was my inmate breaking into stuff. Sorry.
So, you’re a cat lady. Cool.
Anyway… We also are going to do five road games this season with our team. At the end of the day, B2B is truly beyond football.
What makes what you do unique?
When we take our clients on the road for these experiences, everything about it is white glove. It's super elegant.
We're booking their private charter flight. We're staying at five-star hotels. When they arrive, they've got Titans-branded champagne waiting in their rooms. Our programming around every experience is also an experience in and of itself.
We're not just going to take you to dinner, we're going to take you to a five-star Michelin restaurant that's a true experience. The goal is to make memories.
Have your clients had a favorite experience?
One of the favorite events taking clients LA, where the Titans played at Sofi Stadium. Came out with a win… very proud of that moment!
Going in, one thing we considered was that we were taking our clients who have suites in a 23-year-old building to the most elegant, brand-new, shiny object in the sports and entertainment industry in Sofi Stadium. And it was incredible to see the client reaction.
But, they still came out of that talking about the special things that they get in our stadium, that we do for them, and why they still appreciate their home at the Tennessee Titans. Plus, it's always good to know what the clients like and what they don't like. It was a great learning lesson for us, especially as we consider our venue plans.
On the trip, we did the entire LA experience. We had an all-business private jet. We went to Elephante. We had brunch on a yacht and then we went to the game. We were anxious about everyone's reaction to Sofi Stadium. It is beautiful and our clients absolutely loved it. They loved every piece of the experience.
Also, for the first time in five years, our team decided to spend the night after a game. We always stay at the team hotel, so you can imagine our group was very excited that night to go out and go celebrate a big win!
Are there any challenges you had to overcome getting this initiative started?
Everyone still talks about that trip to LA, and it was a good learning lesson because it really capitalized on the fact that we don't need to fear going to another venue – even if it's newer than yours – as long as you are providing the best possible service at your home venue.
Additionally, when tackling this initiative, the first question is generally from finance about the cost of the experiences. The second question, as alluded to is why we want to provide revenue to competitors.
The ultimate answer to both is you have to do what makes sense for your team, for your demographic, for your clients.
Pan your camera over to the inmate cat, Katie.
She’s climbing the curtain.
This is the best Member Highlight ALSD has ever done.
Honestly, it's very on brand for me. There’s not a single thing at home I do without an animal.
Besides cat issues, was there anything specific you overcame to bring your ideas to fruition?
Evaluating our process initially, we asked several questions: What are our clients spending their dollars on when they're not with us? Where do they spend their time when they're not with us? How can we ingrain ourselves into what they do, so that when they think of the Masters, for instance, the first thing they do is not to go to Google, not visit the Masters website, it’s to come to their Titans contact and ask if we have a connection at the Masters.
The most important thing about premium service is ease of access for your clients.
Because we are now offering services and experiences such as the Masters, which are all-encompassing, clients now come to us for everything.
We've also worked great partnerships with our local venues, the Opry Entertainment Group who own the Ryman and the Grand Ole Opry. Our clients know that we are that individual for that access too.
We also go the extra step. When our clients go to these venues, they have their own gear, that's their size, that's waiting for them. They have a fully catered suite; they have an open bar. They have all the tippy-top things that they probably wouldn't usually go and splurge on for just themselves.
They also have B2B opportunities to meet more of our clients and their clients and make great connections that all tie back to Nashville.
For a long time in sports, the viewpoint was that clients are paying to come to ten NFL games a year. The end. But what we've learned, and especially through COVID, is the experience from your couch is great. It's hard to compete with a lot of the options that are out there today, and we need to provide more.
It's about investing back into your clients, to understand that this is a partnership. It's not a one-way street.
We have 177 suites, which accounts for about 150 select accounts. When you’re talking about taking care of a group as a whole, it's truly nominal what you end up on the financial piece. The investment is absolutely worth it, and definitely based on a team-to-team narrative.
Do you see a shift in staffing needs and makeup in sports teams/venues premium departments?
I see a shift in needs in staffing for premium departments. You'll continue to see a larger focus on premium teams expanding in general and especially with how many of venues and events we have now. My number one thing is your ratio of staff to accounts. My recommendation – and what my preference would be – is that it for every one premium services representative, that individual gets to focus their time and attention on 30 to 50 accounts. More accounts than that, and it becomes beyond manageable, as we are on 24/7, 365.
In the NFL in particular, each team has taken a minute to catch up and grow their squads. It's an investment. Your staff needs to be as equally invested as your clients are, and they need to meet your clients where they're at. You'll see the biggest ROI. It’s also the only way to get to know your clients. For instance, I like to talk to their suite host or their suite attendant and figure out what are their favorite beverages, what information we can gather. We want to know birthdays, anniversaries. When they were nominated to 40 under 40, we want to be there to celebrate with them. We want to capitalize on those big moments.
It's no longer breaking up account bases, by spend, by their industry. It's about getting in there and seeing how we can provide them the best experience because they're not the same. None of them are the same. A pet peeve of mine is blanket touch points and blanket gifting. It’s the largest disservice because that is just saying that all of your clients fit into one box.
This year we're focusing on doing segmented happy hours where we target and invite and highlight an important client segment. We have a lot of clients in the music industry, and it was important to highlight that group. We're also going to invite folks that have an investment in that group, that would be interested in meeting that group, and that we know our music industry would also like to meet. We're going to make those introductions and making sure that it's an impactful event.