Not long after a customer shares their thoughts about their experience at your facility on Google, Facebook, or Yelp, a notification shows up in your email box. If the review is highlighted by five stars and a glowing statement about their experience, there’s no better feeling. There’s also no action more important for your business. Those five-star reviews are almost as influential as word of mouth for customers looking to do business with you. According to a Inc.com, 68% of consumers will decide whether to use a product or service after reading 1-6 reviews.
However, for youth sports tourism destinations, great reviews and the return visits they drive don’t happen by chance. They are the product of a strategic focus on understanding the needs of customers (athletes and their families) and developing ways to meet those needs. Some of the methods for serving customers can be innovative in nature, while some adhere to the golden rule. Either way, great customer service starts with an understanding of the customer and a having a service mindset.
At the Sports Facilities Companies, we are committed to enhancing economic and health outcomes for the communities we serve. As part of that commitment, we’ve built a customer-centric culture that translates to superior service at each one of our SFM Network venues. From general managers to front-line staff, each person is trained to listen to the customer, be responsive to their evolving needs, and build practices that set our facilities apart.
Below are three stories of how SFM Network venues are meeting the needs of their customers. We will also provide insight into the strategies behind these practices that you can use at your facility.
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Greeters at the gate, Panama City Beach Sports Complex
Our team at Panama City Beach Sports Complex realized quickly that the time before a guest reached the playing surface or the stands presented an opportunity to provide an experience that would stand apart from others. To ensure a great experience upon arrival, greeters meet participating teams at the gate in order to both welcome them to PCBSC and help them bring their equipment into the facility. They also thank them for visiting when they leave the complex.
Lesson Learned: What’s important to note is that small actions build major connections with families and athletes. What can you do in your facility to make visitors feel welcome or comfortable? Athletes and their families spend time at venues throughout their region, many throughout the country. If the events that take place at your venue feel like “home” to them or, more critically, make them feel like VIP’s, they are more likely to participate in those events.
Innovation at Rocky Top Sports World
Rocky Top Sports World is located in one of the great tourism destinations in the United States, Gatlinburg, TN. When families walk out of the venue, a world of dining, lodging, and entertainment options await. However, narrowing down these options can be challenging. Recognizing this need and desiring to extend customer service beyond their walls, RTSW developed their own app. Along with mobile concession ordering, venue maps, and event schedules, the Rocky Top Sports World app provides guests with discounts and deals from local restaurants and lodging suggestions based on location. The app also finds attractions and places of interest.
Lesson Learned: Ideally, participants are coming from out of town to participate in an event at your facility. This presents a great opportunity to create a guest experience that extends outside of your facility and encompasses your local area. Consider partnerships with local businesses or your local CVB to provide the best experience possible. Whether it’s discounts, an app, or a fun activity, these actions go a long way in engaging guests in a way that motivates them to return to your venue year after year.
The Spirit of the Game, Ballparks of America
If you play travel baseball for a while, you’ve likely played hundreds of games. What you may not see at very many of them is an announcer. That’s what you get at Ballparks of America in Branson, MO. Each game at the baseball complex is called by an announcer. This may not seem like a lot, but it’s in keeping with BPOA’s goal to build an incredible baseball/softball experience for young athletes.
Lesson Learned: BPOA is capitalizing on the desire of young athletes to feel like there in the big leagues. What can you do for your guests to make them feel special in some way? Having an announcer is a great start. Onsite photographers will also work. Look at what is done at the college and pro levels for athletes and consider ways in which it can be emulated in your venue.
The overlying theme of each of these examples is the idea of identifying a customer desire and building an experience around it. Consider what the athletes and families that attend events at your venue need and work to fulfill it. No action is too small as long as it’s done in service to them. That’s what will make your facility stand out and keep rights holders coming to you for new events.