Our New Jersey CMO Club Chapter recently gathered at the Prudential Center for a New Jersey Devils game and to discuss the topic “Fan Engagement Tactics for All Marketers”. New Jersey Devils/Prudential Center VPs Chris Wallace and Matt Zalkowitz shared with the group how they have been working to transform a hockey team into a booming business under progressive new ownership.
The franchise is currently undergoing an evolution from a hockey team to a business operation. According to Marketing and Communications VP Chris Wallace, the biggest challenge throughout the transformation has been changing the narrative of the brand – redefining their brand voice and what it stands for. They’ve taken major strides by hiring over 150 new staff in the last six months, promoting Prudential Center as a multi-purpose venue (of the 175 events held at the arena each year, only 44 are hockey games), and by supporting the local community and reaching out to New Jersey-based businesses.
Here are the NJ Devils/Prudential Center’s Top 5 priorities for improving fan engagement:
- Fan Experience—Focused on improving the game presentation for fans; they recently invested $1.5 million in a 3D projection system, which provides a cutting edge one-of-a-kind pre-show.
- Food and beverage—Legends Hospitality Management recently became their vendor management provider. Legends, who also runs AT&T and Yankee stadiums, created a NJ-themed food market and exciting new food options.
- Merchandising—Fanatics became their retail management company and brought with them a stronger e-commerce business and a renewed focus on selling merchandise at games by redesigning the layout to be more accessible and appealing to fans.
- Door-to-door experience—The NJ Devils and Prudential Center want to provide an exceptional door-to-door experience for fans – from season ticket delivery to arena employees trained by the kings of customer service – Ritz Carlton.
- Utilizing big data—They recently signed a new partnership with online gambling powerhouse, Party Poker, hired a new head of CRM from MGM in Las Vegas and are building out a new internal team to manage and utilize the data they collect.
Although they have accomplished a lot in the last 12 months, Chris and Matt feel that their transformation is still very much in its’ infancy stage and has a long way to go. We can’t wait to see what happens with the franchise and the arena in the future!