The Not-So-Secret Shopper

What is it like to be a fan? Do you know? When is the last time you just went to a game to have a good time and didn’t have to work? What is the fan experience like for fans or your team or organization? If you really want to get an idea of what your fan experience is like, go to a game in regular clothes and do as your fans do.

– Stand in line to pick up your tickets
– Sit in one area during the first half
– Try to buy a hot dog and a soda during the first quarter break or time-out
– Try to buy a hat during halftime at the team store (the one on the other side of the building that you know has hats)
– Move to a different section where you are sure you won’t know anyone for the second half
– Stay until the end of the game

If you can’t do this yourself, you can have someone who works for you stand in do observe for a few early season games…make sure they bring a tape recorder, a notebook, or a smartphone or tablet with a good note-taking app. They will probably need to do this for more than one game so you can review how the first observations went and make suggestions for improvements on what to look out for. With basketball season coming up soon, this is a great opportunity to get a jump on some of the possible issues that might arise as your operations team shakes off the dust and gets things rolling again. Here’s a list of things to look out for and to keep on the radar:

– Ingress and egress around the parking areas and into the building in case anything may have changed unexpectedly since last season
– Congestion points due to possible renovations or construction projects near the entrances or box office
– Possible need for stanchions or caution tape near possible hazards
– Hot/Cold water is working in all bathrooms (including the visiting team and officials locker rooms)
– Audio volume in all areas of the seating area is appropriate
– Food is hot when you receive it after making your purchase (bring a stopwatch to time the wait)
– The cashier at the team shop knows how to use the register (use your stopwatch again for this)
– Observe fans and their language in various areas of the seating areas (where are the cuss words coming from and where are the families? Is there too much crowding when the team enters and exits the playing area?)
– Egress from the building after the game – is the playing area guarded properly and are ushers helpful in directing fans to the exits?
– Are the ushers thanking fans for coming and wishing them a safe trip home? Are they telling them to come back again?

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but take the lessons learned from the fall sports season and apply these to your fast-approaching winter sports team operations meetings. Everyone on staff should know what the problems have been so far with the fall sports and be fully equipped and prepared for the upcoming winter sports seasons. Now is the time to make adjustments and go over everything you can while you still have time and before things get busy. Pretty soon we’ll be in post-season for the fall sports, full winter sports season, on top of the holidays and all the family and work engagements that will be battling for our attention as well.

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Go Forth!