For the first time in three years, club executives in communications, business, marketing and ticketing from across the continent met face-to-face at the Euroleague Basketball Institute Annual Workshops in Barcelona this week to trade ideas about how to continue dynamizing the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague fan experience now and in the future.
Business, media club execs together again at EBI Workshops
Architects who build bridges between stakeholders and fans, the club executives arrived in great numbers and spent two days brainstorming about the best ways to give current and future fans the best of everything from a competition in which every game matters.
The media directors gathered first to hear from Euroleague Basketball executives about the competition's post-pandemic rebound in audience and revenues and to plan how best to turbo-boost the many digital connections between the league and the fans.
"It was great to have a face-to-face meeting. For two years, we unfortunately had a mandatory break and had to meet virtually," Ilker Ücer, Media Director, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, said. "We can see that EuroLeague has a strategy to grow the product, and we as clubs have our own, too, but the most important part is to combine our strategies to grow the EuroLeague product. We are trying to do the best on the communications side to have the fans understand the meaning of this game and this organization. The digital side is the main focus, and we, as clubs, need to help the EuroLeague in this digital communications partnership."
Almost 50 marketing, business and ticketing directors arrived next and were updated on the many ongoing data collection and analysis tools available to them through Euroleague Basketball, as well as the creative resources to turn that knowledge into actionable offerings for their fans.
The first featured presenters were two EuroLeague Basketball partners who are global leaders in their fields: Nielsen Sports, in sports measurement and analytics, and Seven League, in digitization strategy.
"The speed of change we have to face on a daily basis is insane," Seven League chairman and founder Richard Ayers explained. "But success in that ever-changing world has incredible benefits for your business, your club and your sport. Technology is advancing the connections between fans and sport. Fans demand a voice. They are going to new meeting places, and they want us there."
The discussion continued with details of Euroleague Basketball's newly enhanced data infrastructure suite, which allows creating and delivering content across platforms to pinpoint audience segments, giving clubs the tools to tailor what they offer both longtime and prospective fans, especially young ones.
"After a long season, it's good to meet each other, to exchange ideas, to see new projects, and to see how EuroLeague is supporting us, not only during the season, but all the time," Roberto Bottali, Marketing and Sponsorship Manager, AX Armani Exchange Milan, said. "What I understood from today is that we have to understand how to engage our fans, not only on game day, but during the rest of the week. And we have to work together to understand how to widen our audience and reach the younger generation."
Separate ticketing and marketing sessions filled the rest of the agenda as each group drilled down on how to make going to the arena for EuroLeague games more special than ever, in the first instance, and how to synergize the shared interests of sponsors and fans, in the second.
"For every EuroLeague team and every ticketing director, this exchange is very important to see and hear what the other clubs are doing," Lutz Heck, Ticketing Director, FC Bayern Munich, said. "Today, we met together and created a customer journey in smaller groups and got all together at the end. It was very interesting... We can learn from each other."
Among the executives who took in multiple sessions of the workshop, Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv CEO Edli Marcus emphasized the objective of engaging fans in compelling ways that transcend the fact that in every game, one team must lose, and after every season, there is only one champion.
"The most important thing is to try to sell tickets, advertising, sponsorships and content as experiences to be part of the team, unrelated to the team success," Mr. Marcus said. "When we collect and share new ideas here, it's a benefit for all of us, because we are not competing. We compete in the games, but not in the business. In business, we all have the same targets."