Redefining the Supersize Group Experience

Phase three of Kathy Burrows’ road ahead for the sports and entertainment industry suggests ideas to motivate some of our industry’s most important groups to interact with us through year-round virtual experiences and unique affiliations.

Choices. So many choices today. Getting to an agreement on these choices is one of the most stressful things we do. We can’t even get a family of four to agree on what to do when they’re bored.

Expectations for events are constantly rising. A hot dog and beer at the ballpark with co-workers used to be a great experience. Now we want more if we are going to make that choice. How do we provide all that someone wants in a game? Or do we?

With virtual becoming the new norm and a new way to spend our weekends or evenings, we need to make sure teams follow the trend. We talk about the “group experience”, but what is it really? Maybe some kids high fiving a player? A hospitality area to graze during a game? What really is this “experience” we speak of? And how can we best utilize the virtual experience to maximize our relationship?

Let’s consider some of our biggest outings: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Education Days, Youth Sports, etc. What have we done differently each year? What have we done outside of the game to engage them? Have we found that scouts may be a little tired of doing the same things they say they love, but as numbers dwindle? How many schools have said they either are not permitted field trips or have no money for them? And what do we do with youth sports year after year? The best way to keep our largest groups coming back is to engage them throughout the year and change it up each year.

Use Virtual Tools to Scale New Experiences

Our mission statements all say we provide great experiences. But we need to develop these experiences so that we offer more than just what 20 kids or ten adults can do. What experiences are we giving them that make them feel a part of our team and they get great benefit from?

One of the first areas we need to reconsider is meetings, either virtual or in-person meetings at least a few times to make sure we are creating new ideas. With scouts, for instance, the same scout leaders may keep saying they like the sleepover and the game. And they might. But if numbers aren’t rising, and many are decreasing, then has this experience worn out its welcome? Or can we do something different to accompany it?

In looking at scouts, one of the biggest considerations brought to our attention has been the dwindling number of Boy Scouts and the need for recruitment. I take that as a challenge. What can we do to excite kids and recruit them to be part of scouts because they have a unique affiliation with us? And what is that unique affiliation?

For some, it’s doing monthly video sessions and challenges for acts of kindness that troops follow up on. From writing letters to nursing homes, to teaming up with a developmentally challenged student to play/learn a sport, to focusing them on ways to earn badges coordinated through us.

For others, it’s monthly health and wellness videos as part of their ticketing packages. A session (which can be pre-recorded) with our coach to talk about teamwork and not bullying, the trainer to show daily exercises they should be doing, our foodservice staff to talk about healthy snacks and maybe preparing a meal for the family, our marketing department to talk about creating troop posters for the team that can be shown on social media and hung by the players’ locker room or used in a parade at their game. Operations can talk about building a structure and challenging them to create a replica of our facility, with prizes for various age groups.

I’ve found many troop leaders have been thrilled with these ideas as they are trying to recruit and come up with new ideas. If we help provide them with eight sessions virtually, it brings a whole new level of excitement. This virtual experience can culminate in a game, but the overall “experience” is much greater than in the past.

Engage Groups with Exclusive Year-Round Content

Education Days are much the same. With so many schools cancelling field trips, monthly virtual learning sessions (yes, STEM related to our sport) gives them a much better experience than going to a game where there is no focus on the education portion, as the kids are just excited to be out of school.

Plus, tickets can be a voucher if need be, so those schools not doing field trips have no obligation. The kids simply take the ticket home and come when they want. Think about how this initiative could be sponsored. We can include the schools that financially can’t come as well as include home schools and all of those schools without field trips. We are providing an experience both in season and out of season.

Youth sports is another area. Why aren’t we doing monthly virtual camps? For instance, with baseball, one month can be stretching. Another can be hitting. Another fielding. Another catching. Another can be the mindset in the game. Another can be nutrition before a game. Now we have engaged them all year.

Plus, we are finding a number of teams don’t connect with us, or kids don’t belong to a specific team but want this same experience. So now we have expanded who we sell to and created a year-long experience that engages kids with us much more than in the past.

Not only does this approach grow our supersize groups, but more importantly, it grows our fan base generationally. We now engage people year-round, and we become top of mind. Does it take effort? Sure. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

How are you engaging supersize groups throughout the year and creating new experiences?
Write to Kathy Burrows at

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