The Cowboys Experience
I was privileged to attend a pre-season Cowboys game in the new stadium last night… AND watch from an event-level suite with reserved parking. It was a treat to say the least, but as a non-football fan, I spent most of my time watching the people behind the scenes and pondering the many facets of marketing and business at the game. Football fan or not, you can’t help but enjoy the experience. So let’s recap some of the most prominent features of the evening!
First, private suite and reserved parking are a HUGE revenue stream for the stadium, as patrons sign 10 year deals to the tune of several hundred-thousand dollars per year, yielding a couple million bucks for the life the deal. Not too shabby straight out of the gates. Event-level suites come equipped with a personal attendant, theater viewing seats about 30 ft. from the end zone, 3 flat-screen TVs, and a fridge stocked with your choice of beverages and food. The entire suite boasts expensive, high-end items, from logo-bearing bathroom “paper towels” that are more like cloth than paper, to granite counter tops and mahogany cabinets in the mini-kitchen. This particular suite also ranked important enough to warrant having at least 3 account executives or PR people drop by to make sure everything was perfect. It also warranted a visit from several of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders for an impromptu photo op, with a free online viewing and printing gallery for the suite attendees. I was also intrigued and dismayed to realize that Pepsi landed the stadium beverage contract, not Coke. I’m a Coke fan all the way, so I was a little frustrated that my favorite soft drink was not available in the suite.
All of these aspects are put together by people in different marketing, sales, customer service, and business disciplines to create a seamless, fun-filled experience. But digging further reveals a pretty complex web of business savvy and creativity. Everything is perfectly choreographed and scheduled, with subtly that most would not notice. When you join the Cowboys team, your life is no longer your own, which leads me to also ponder the corporate culture. I would love to get a look at the inner-workings of the Dallas Cowboys experience. Here’s a few areas where these business people excelled:
Knowing the customer: The account executive are assigned a small number of suites, so they know the owners by name. We were guests of the owner last night, and the account executive recognized that the person in charge last night was not actually the owner of the suite. She did, however, recognize that person as the person who normally sends her the check for the suite bill. This woman knows all the key players in the organization of the suite owner, and makes sure that every person feels important. She’s on a first-name basis with some of the wealthiest people in the US, and knowing your name is just the beginning of the level of care these people take to find out and meet your needs.
Providing a quality product: Everything in the suite was the best of the best, ensuring that clients feel like they’re getting what they paid for. But it’s not just about the quality of the tangible items, it’s about the overall quality of the experience. If you pay to feel like a VIP, the Cowboys team will treat you like a VIP from the moment you arrive at the parking gate. Private elevators and security personal outside the entrance of the suite help owners feel that their exclusive tickets really ARE exclusive. They want to feel like they’re sitting directly in the action, and with seats right on the field, you can’t get much closer without putting on a helmet. The consistently high-quality product keeps clients coming back for more, by purchasing additional suites and services for future seasons.
Strong branding. As soon as you exit the highway, you start to see signs in Dallas colors with directions to the stadium. The stadium parking signs are numbered in Dallas-blue and adorned with the signature Cowboys star. The suites have logos on everything, and the color schemes match the uniform colors of the players and cheerleaders. The Dallas Cowboys infuse branding to touch every one of your senses; everything you touch, everything you hear, everything you see, reminds you that your experience is being provided by the Dallas Cowboys. You walk away feeling like you’ve made a strong connection with the brand.
I could go on about the cool experience and the complex business savvy of the people who made it all happen, but I think it’s best to encourage you to check out the new stadium if you get the chance. I hear they’re hosting the Super Bowl this year… what a “suite” experience that would be!