The Plan to Innovate and Differentiate

In our next Solutions for a Shutdown installment, the ALSD called on Michael Sarage, Jake Vernon, and Dionna Widder to offer perspective on how to best modify and safeguard premium client benefits and experiences to move ahead in a COVID-19 world.


Now is the time for sports business professionals to work on their business instead of in their business in order to rethink their business in changing circumstances.

It’s the time to reimagine the fan journey, to examine how to best attract interested fans now with a soft approach and convert them into buyers later. It’s the time to make friends, not money, to be ultra-intentional with client engagement with structured touchpoints. It’s the time to innovate and think differently, but also to tap into sentiment and nostalgia with a handwritten note, to over-deliver on what’s contractually obligated to customers, to consider expenses beyond the original budget.

In this ALSD virtual panel discussion, we illustrate a variety of solutions for adapting premium benefits to a reality with restrictions on mass gatherings. Focus on safety protocols and sanitation. Be mindful of fan fears and how to remove them in venues. Fast-track technology upgrades and shorten learning curves for fans associated with these upgrades. Build a plan now, able and ready for execution the moment the economy opens again.

Introductions/Housekeeping Notes: 0:15
Give Back Events Initiative: 8:40
Service Doesn’t Stop: 10:51
The Changing Customer Journey: 11:52
Over-Delivering High Levels of Service: 14:40
Make Friends, Not Money: 16:29
Building a New Benefits Platform: 18:26
Bringing Clients Back to the Venue: 22:21
Contract and Package Flexibility: 25:27
Prospective Industries and Opportunities to Keep an Eye On: 27:50
Fast-Tracking Digital and F&B Initiatives: 34:13
Shortening Fan Learning Curves for New Experiences: 39:28
Celebrating a Return of the Games: 43:26


Discussion Moderated By: Amanda Verhoff, President, ALSD


Michael Sarage, Director of Premium & Business Development, Detroit Pistons
Jake Vernon, Vice President of Sales and Service, Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx
Dionna Widder, Chief Revenue Officer, Houston Dynamo and Dash