Archive for the ‘News’ Category

EMU Athletics Partners With The Aspire Group

Posted on: July 22nd, 2015

The Aspire Group To Launch Ticket Sales & Service Operation at Eastern Michigan

The Eastern Michigan University Department of Athletics and The Aspire Sport Marketing Group announced today, July 22, that they have signed a multi-year agreement to develop a Fan Relationship Management Center (FRMC) on the Ypsilanti campus. Aspire will staff two full-time employees with the goal of providing year round support in service & retention, outbound sales, ticket operations and revenue strategy.

“We are proud to announce this new partnership with The Aspire Group,” said EMU Vice President and Director of Athletics Heather Lyke. “Not only do they bring significant ticket sales and service experience but they have progressive leaders guiding their organization and people who care about the quality of job they do.  We are fortunate to be working together as they will help us continue to build a memorable experience for our fans at Eastern Michigan University.”

Eastern Michigan becomes the third Mid-American Conference (MAC) school The Aspire Group has worked with in 2015 and sixth overall. Within the league, Aspire have provided ticket sales and service support to Western Michigan, Toledo, Miami, Buffalo, Massachusetts and now Eastern Michigan.

“We identified a need within our department,  which we saw Aspire’s capabilities as syncing with perfectly,” stated Tony Orlando, Director of Athletics Marketing for Eastern Michigan University Athletics. “We are building something special here, and taking the program in a direction it has not been before and we are thrilled to have Aspire as part of our family on that journey to new frontiers of excellence.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Eastern Michigan to the Aspire family” stated Bill Fagan, SVP & GM – Fan Relationship Management. “The entire Eastern Michigan staff has been first class since we’ve had the pleasure of meeting.  Their attention towards elevating the fan experience paired with our extensive ticket sales and service experience is the perfect partnership.”

Aspire has promoted Jeff Czachowski to Manager of the EMU FRMC. Previously, Jeff was a Team Leader for the University of Maryland FRMC. While with the Maryland FRMC, Jeff had numerous accomplishments including producing over $350,000 in ticket revenue in one year, establishing a Group Sales division and running the Maryland FRMC’s internship program. Aspire’s Regional VP of Fan Relationship Management, Tony Garrett, will oversee the partnership between Aspire and Eastern Michigan Athletics.

“We see EMU as a school on the rise, and by no coincidence, it has a lot to do with the programs leadership, and student athletes on the fields, courts, tracks, pools, and arenas. We are looking forward to setting a new standard for Eagles fans as they engage with the program on a 12 month basis” said Garrett. “Our company’s work ethic is very in line with that of the hardworking people of Southeast Michigan, we cannot wait to get more fans exposed to game day at The Factory.”

“As a Michigan native, I look forward to building strong relationships with the EMU fan base and the Ypsilanti community,” added Czachowski. “While at Maryland the past three years, I found myself building Terps fans for life, but more importantly, friends for life. I pride myself on loyalty and great customer service, and I look forward to getting to know every ticket holder and taking the fan base to new heights. I am confident that Eastern Michigan University Athletics will take great strides in the coming years.”

For inquiries or further questions, please contact Alan Pandiani at alan.pandiani@theaspriegroupinc.com

About The Aspire Group
The Aspire Group is a global sports and entertainment marketing firm that specializes in enhancing all revenue streams while building lifelong fans for our clients through superb fan engagement and service. The Aspire Group currently works with client partners in North America, Europe and Australia providing ongoing strategic business consulting and research; outsourced services; and implementation support in all facets of sport business and investment optimization. Aspire has become the global leader in outsourced revenue enhancement with over 40 collegiate properties in the USA and over 100 additional sports and entertainment properties who have trusted Aspire to drive revenue, attendance and enterprise value. Recently, The Aspire Group was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Top Ten Best Places To Work For In Sports” and nominated by Sports Business Journal for a “Best In Property Consulting, Sales And Client Services” award for the second time. For more information, please visit www.theaspiregroupinc.com.

About  Eastern Michigan Athletics
Eastern Michigan University has been a member of the Mid-American Conference since 1971 and has been among the league’s most successful members. The Division I program boasts 129 MAC team championships over the past 43 years. EMU’s varsity intercollegiate program features 21 different sports, nine men’s teams and 12 women’s teams, the program employs more than 70 full-time staff and supports more than 500 student-athletes. Eastern Michigan has had a representative at every summer Olympics since 1960.

The Aspire Group To Administer Harvard Athletics’ Outbound Ticket Sales And Service Operation

Posted on: June 22nd, 2015

The Aspire Group, the global leader in sport revenue enhancement through Ticket Marketing, Sales and Service, announced today that it has been retained by the Harvard Department of Athletics to administer the Department’s outbound ticket sales and service operation through an on-campus Fan Relationship Management Center (FRMC). The Crimson FRMC will be led by a selling Manager and one Sales Consultant, both dedicated to providing Harvard Athletics fans with best-in-class year-round customer service and an outstanding experience when attending athletic events in historic Cambridge, Massachusetts. In addition to administering Harvard Athletics’ outbound ticket sales and service operation, The Aspire Group will also provide support in fan research, faculty/amenity research, ticket pricing workshops and Ticket Marketing, Sales and Service Planning.

“We are pleased to have retained Aspire to work with us on this initiative,” stated Nick Majocha, Harvard Athletics Ticket Manager. “Aspire’s goals will be to help us broaden our outreach efforts, introduce more fans to Harvard Athletics, and aid us in our continued efforts to provide superior customer service to our dedicated supporters.”

“We look forward to supporting Harvard Athletics in providing the Crimson community superb customer service,” stated Bill Fagan, SVP & GM of Fan Relationship Management for The Aspire Group. “As a New Englander myself, I know the level of passion the Crimson fans have and the extremely high standards they expect for customer service.”

The Aspire Group’s CJ Wiatr, Regional VP of Fan Relationship Management, will serve as the liaison between Aspire and Harvard Athletics. Wiatr has worked for several NFL properties and oversaw Aspire’s Rutgers University property.

For inquiries or further questions, please contact Alan Pandiani at alan.pandiani@theaspriegroupinc.com

About The Aspire Group

The Aspire Group is a global sports and entertainment marketing firm that specializes in enhancing all revenue streams while building lifelong fans for our clients through superb fan engagement and service. The Aspire Group currently works with client partners in North America, Europe and Australia providing ongoing strategic business consulting and research; outsourced services; and implementation support in all facets of sport business and investment optimization. Aspire has become the global leader in outsourced revenue enhancement with over 40 collegiate properties in the USA and over 100 additional sports and entertainment properties who have trusted Aspire to drive revenue, attendance and enterprise value. Recently, The Aspire Group was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Top Ten Best Places To Work For In Sports” and nominated by Sports Business Journal for a “Best In Property Consulting, Sales And Client Services” award for the second time. For more information, please visit www.theaspiregroupinc.com.

About Harvard Athletics

Harvard University fields an athletic program that is the largest and one of the most successful in Division I of the NCAA. With 42 varsity sports and over 1,200 varsity athletes, Harvard is fully committed to a well-rounded athletic program, consisting of club, intramural and recreation opportunities for all students. Athletics at Harvard builds community through the engagement of students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and creates a portal through which neighboring communities can enjoy the Harvard experience. Harvard values the lessons that have long been taught by athletic participation. In teaching these lessons to its students, Harvard instills habits, which will lead students to better and healthier lives. Harvard Athletics follows the message of its tagline: Academic Integration and Competitive Excellence in Division I Athletics. For more information on Harvard Athletics, please visit www.GoCrimson.com

The Santa Clara Broncos Partner With The Aspire Group For Support In Ticket Revenue Generation

Posted on: June 3rd, 2015

The Santa Clara Broncos are pleased to announce their partnership with The Aspire Group, one of the leading providers in sports revenue enhancement, to build an on-campus operation that will be charged with selling and servicing all ticketed Bronco sports. Beginning July 2015, the Santa Clara Fan Relationship Management Center (FRMC) will be fully operational with a Manager and Sales Consultant, both offering Bronco fans with a unique customer service experience.

“As we improve our fan engagement and enhance our community outreach, The Aspire Group will be a valuable partner to help us achieve the sales and service objectives that we have set for our ticketing operations,” said Santa Clara Interim Director of Athletics Jeff Mitchell.  “This is the right time to improve our ticketing and customer service efforts, and we’ve got a great teammate in Aspire as we look to provide fans with a quality experience at our venues.”

“The Aspire Group is excited to partner with the Santa Clara University Athletic Department,” stated Bill Duffy, COO of The Aspire Group. “The Broncos have a long and storied history and we look forward to working with them as they return to the top of the West Coast Conference. We are committed to working with the Athletic Department to enhance revenue generation and provide Bronco fans with the best in class service they deserve.”

The Aspire Group’s Tony Garrett, Regional VP of Fan Relationship Management, will oversee the partnership between Aspire and the Santa Clara Broncos.

For inquiries or further questions on this partnership, please contact Alan Pandiani at alan.pandiani@theaspriegroupinc.com

 

About Bronco Athletics

With 19 intercollegiate sports that compete on the NCAA Division I level, the Broncos are perennial leaders in the West Coast Conference. Bronco student-athletes compete in the following sports: baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s rowing, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s track, volleyball, and men’s and women’s water polo.

About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see www.scu.edu

 

About The Aspire Group

The Aspire Group is an global sports and entertainment marketing firm that specializes in enhancing all revenue streams while building lifelong fans for our clients through superb fan engagement and service. The Aspire Group currently works with client partners in North America, Europe and Australia providing ongoing strategic business consulting and research; outsourced services; and implementation support in all facets of sport business and investment optimization. Aspire has become the global leader in outsourced revenue enhancement with over 40 collegiate properties in the USA and over 100 additional sports and entertainment properties who have trusted Aspire to drive revenue, attendance and enterprise value. Recently, The Aspire Group was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Top Ten Best Places To Work For In Sports” and nominated by Sports Business Journal for a “Best In Property Consulting, Sales And Client Services” award for the second time.

For more information visit www.theaspiregroupinc.com.

Rockets Partner With The Aspire Group to Assist with Ticket Sales and Service

Posted on: May 18th, 2015

The University of Toledo Athletic Department today announced a new partnership with The Aspire Group that will provide industry-leading ticket marketing, sales and service support as well as extensive market research on the Rocket fan base. The new partnership takes effect immediately.

“The Aspire Group will be a great partner to help us achieve the sales and service objectives we’ve set for our ticketing operation,” stated David Nottke, UT Senior Associate Athletic Director for Development & External Affairs. “Aspire’s leadership and expertise in ticket marketing, sales and service as well as fan research is well known in the collegiate sports industry. Our ticket sales and operations, marketing and development teams look forward to working with Aspire as we continue to grow our program and provide fans with a superior experience at our venues.”

UT Vice-President and Athletic Director Mike O’Brien said the new partnership will have a positive impact for Rocket fans and for the UT Athletics program overall.

“We are very excited about our new partnership with The Aspire Group as it will bring more resources to our efforts to build our fan base and service our fans,” said O’Brien. “Our goal is to fill the Glass Bowl and Savage Arena with enthusiastic fans that will give us an even greater home-field or home-court advantage.”

The Aspire Group will create an on-campus Rockets Fan Relationship Management Center (FRMC) that will be staffed with a Manager of Ticket Sales & Service, a Coordinator of Database Marketing & Analytics and two Sales Consultants. Each FRMC employee will be committed to working with UT Athletics in providing superb customer service while maximizing ticket marketing, sales and service revenue. Aspire’s Regional Vice-President of Fan Relationship Management, Tony Garrett, will oversee the partnership. Garrett comes with a strong track record of success at the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, Atlanta Hawks and New Orleans Pelicans (then the Hornets), as well as running Tulane’s Athletic sales, where he oversaw sell-outs at the Green Waves’ new Yulman Football Stadium.

“We are excited to partner with the University of Toledo and anxious to contribute to their pursuit of Mid-American Conference championships,” stated Bill Fagan, SVP Fan Relationship Management for The Aspire Group. “We are honored to support the staff at the University of Toledo and help them grow revenues and enhance the Rockets fan experience.”

 

About The Aspire Group

The Aspire Group is an Atlanta-based global sports and entertainment marketing firm that specializes in enhancing every stream of revenue and building lifelong fans for our clients through superb fan engagement and service. The Aspire Group currently works with client partners in North America, Europe and Australia providing ongoing strategic and implementation support in ticketing, business consulting, research, marketing enhancement, and sport investment optimization. The Aspire Group has become the global leader in outsourced revenue enhancement with over 40 collegiate properties in the USA and over 100 additional sports and entertainment properties who have trusted Aspire to drive revenue, attendance and enterprise value. Recently, The Aspire Group was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Top Ten Best Places To Work For In Sports” and nominated by Sports Business Journal for a “Best in Property Consulting, Sales and Client Services” award.

 

For more information visit www.theaspiregroupinc.com.

Tulane uses fan survey to help improve Yulman Stadium experience

Posted on: May 14th, 2015

The New Orleans Advocate 

By: Scott Kushner 

It wasn’t enough to open the doors to Yulman Stadium and call it a success.

Tulane’s football stadium, which recently hosted its first season on the school’s Uptown campus in 40 years, may have added an abundance of new season ticket holders to the Green Wave’s football program, but it also took on a lot of new responsibility. Rather than renting out the Mercedez-Benz Superdome and letting its staff handle most of the game-day operations, Tulane’s own staff was in charge of delivering a fan-pleasing experience.

Now, as the 2015 season approaches in the coming months and ticket promotions have begun in earnest, Tulane’s administration is focused on what can be improved (beyond the product on the field) to keep those customers returning for years to come.

To get an idea of where the top priorities stand, Tulane conducted a survey amongst its fans and found an array of areas it could improve the Yulman Stadium experience for its particular demographic market. It hired a subsidiary of its ticket representatives, the Aspire Group, who said the amount of respondents (who spent an average of 24 minutes on the survey) allows a 5 percent margin of error as representative of the whole fan base.

Of the season ticket holder demographics, Tulane discovered its customer averages 52 years old, five years younger than the national average for college football. It found 79 percent live in Louisiana, 61 percent in the New Orleans metro area with its strongest density coming from the Uptown, Lakeview and River Ridge neighborhoods.

Arguably most significant is that 35 percent of ticket holders said they weren’t affiliated with Tulane in any way beyond athletics, the highest percentage Aspire has seen with the exception of Army.

While those numbers may be helpful, executive associate athletic director Brandon MacNeill said the information they provided is what will make the biggest difference when Tulane opens its season in Yulman on Aug. 30 against Duke.

“We collected the data and people took 24 minutes to fill out a survey and we want to make sure they were heard,” MacNeill said. “This was great feedback and we didn’t want to just open the stadium, pat ourselves on the back and say we did a great job. We also didn’t want to take one or two complaints and run wild with them.

“Doing this survey and getting the response we did allows us to address the problems, know where we excel, and put it in its proper priority.”

The key areas of concern include balancing the sound from the stadium’s speakers, increasing the food offerings available in the concourse, boosting cell phone connectivity by installing a Distributed Antenna System and allotting more time for the marching band.

For television viewers, Tulane also said it will address the low, unorthodox camera angle employed by ESPN in broadcasting the game from the press-box adjacent camera wells. And fans in the stadium will stay more connected by additional ribbon boards which display out of town scores.

There have also been additional seating areas and on-campus parking spaces added to even out the seating distribution and give fans more options. Tulane is giving season-ticket holders the opportunity to guarantee their seats by renewing on May 30, that’s when new seating will start taking place.

“We know that 25 percent of our season tickets sold last year were first-time season ticket holders and that means we need to shift from getting new sales as our top priority into retention as our top priority,” MacNeill said.

“We need to make sure that base sticks with us and has a great experience in the stadium and we know what matters to them. We are hoping to collect more data this season on a week-to-week basis and make adjustments based on that feedback.”

To read the full article, click here.

The Colorado State Rams Form Partnership With The Aspire Group For Ticket Marketing, Sales and Service Support

Posted on: April 21st, 2015

Colorado State University Athletics is pleased to announce a partnership with The Aspire Group to utilize Aspire’s expertise in enhancing ticket revenue and providing Rams fans with world-class customer service and fan engagement. To accomplish these goals, Aspire will work with CSU Athletics on ticket marketing, sales and service, market research insights on the CSU Rams fan base, strategic consulting through yield management and selling season tickets for the anticipated on-campus football stadium scheduled to open in 2017.

“We are excited to work hand-in-hand with The Aspire Group to improve our ticketing operation, gain a 360 view of our fans and create a memorable experience at each home sporting event that will have our fans coming back for years to come,” said Ben Lorenzen, Senior Associate A.D. for Sales, Marketing and Communications for CSU Athletics.

Starting in May 2015, CSU fans will experience the first of many ticketing improvements with a Fan Relationship Management Center (FRMC) in Fort Collins, operated and managed by The Aspire Group. The CSU FRMC will include a Director, a Manager of Database Marketing & Analytics, and a minimum of five Sales & Service Consultants, all dedicated to providing Rams fans with the highest level of customer service. Aspire’s Regional-VP, C.J. Wiatr, will oversee this client relationship and work with CSU Athletics to make sure goals and objectives are met at the CSU FRMC.

“We are consistently able to provide our partner schools with optimal results when trusted to manage all Ticket Marketing, Sales and Service initiatives,” said Alan Pandiani, Manager of Client Partner Development for The Aspire Group. “This full-scale partnership with CSU Athletics is the first of its kind in the Mountain West Conference and in particular for a new stadium project, which has the potential to make a significant impact in the Front Range community.”

The Aspire Group had produced highly successful results selling for new collegiate stadiums/arenas at Tulane Athletics’ 30,000 seat Yulman Stadium (opened in 2014) and Georgia Tech Athletics’ 8,600 seat McCamish Pavilion (opened in 2013-14 basketball season), among others.

For inquiries or further questions on this partnership, please contact Alan Pandiani at alan.pandiani@theaspriegroupinc.com

About The Aspire Group

The Aspire Group is a global sports and entertainment marketing firm that specializes in enhancing every stream of revenue and building lifelong fans for our clients through superb fan engagement and service. The Aspire Group currently works with client partners in North America, Europe and Australia providing ongoing strategic and implementation support in ticketing, consulting, research, marketing enhancement, and sport investment optimization. The Aspire Group has become the global leader in outsourced revenue enhancement with over 130 sports and entertainment properties who have trusted Aspire to drive revenue, attendance and enterprise value. Recently, The Aspire Group was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Top Ten Best Places To Work For In Sports.”

 

 

Historic Penn Relays Partners with The Aspire Group for 121st Track and Field Competition

Posted on: March 27th, 2015

Starting March 2nd, The Aspire Group began an eight-week remote ticket sales campaign out of their USA National Sales Center for the Penn Relays – the nation’s oldest track and field event which is taking place April 23 – 25 at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field.

Tickets for the oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States will be sold by three Aspire sales consultants, equipped with the highest quality ticket sales training in the sport and entertainment industry.

“While their proven sales results speak for themselves, we wanted to partner with The Aspire Group for the exemplary customer service that they can provide to our fans. Every year, the Penn Relays get better and better. We are looking forward to The Aspire Group helping us to continue this forward momentum,” said Dave Johnson, Director of The Penn Relays.

The Aspire Group has a close connection to this event having had two employees participate in the event. Bill Duffy, COO, ran in the Penn Relays during his time at Princeton and more recently Alan Pandiani, Manager of Client Partner Development, ran during his collegiate career at Providence College.

“Having participated in this event in my collegiate career at Providence College, I can personally say this was one of my most memorable experiences in sports. Outside of the Olympic Games, this is truly the pinnacle of the sport in terms of atmosphere, tradition, and competition. I couldn’t be more proud to have our company supporting this historic event, and we intend to deliver tremendous results,” stated Alan Pandiani, Aspire’s Manager of Client Partner Development.

About Penn Relays

First run in 1895, The Penn Relays is the oldest and largest track and field event in the United States. Contested every year during the last weekend of April, the Relays bring in over 20,000 competitors from around the globe to compete in front of over 110,000 fans during the three days of the carnival. Over 250 individuals who have competed in The Penn Relays have gone on to win Olympic Gold medals during their careers.

For more information, visit www.thepennrelays.com

About The Aspire Group

The Aspire Group is a global sports and entertainment marketing firm that specializes in enhancing every stream of revenue and building lifelong fans for our clients through superb fan engagement and service. The Aspire Group currently works with client partners in North America, Europe and Australia providing ongoing strategic and implementation support in ticketing, consulting, research, marketing enhancement, and sport investment optimization. The Aspire Group has become the global leader in outsourced revenue enhancement with over 130 sports and entertainment properties who have trusted Aspire to drive revenue, attendance and enterprise value.

For the 2nd Year In A Row The Aspire Group Helps Honda Battle of the Bands (HBOB) Set New Attendance Highs

Posted on: March 18th, 2015

Urban Sports and Entertainment Group, Extends Relationship With Aspire Through 2016

Urban Sports and Entertainment Group, a marketing firm that specializes in the multicultural marketplace, hired The Aspire Group to provide Ticket Marketing, Sales and Service support for the 2014 & 2015 Honda Battle of the Bands (HBOB). Since partnering with Aspire, HBOB revenues have seen a 35 % increase and more recently, the 2015 HBOB event had the highest attendance in 5 years.

“We are thrilled to be working with The Aspire Group moving forward. Creating a Fan Relationship Management Center so our fans have a go to person has been invaluable. We have gained strategic insight as it relates to our fans which drives revenue and enhances their overall experience,” stated Tom Grabowski, President & CEO of Urban Sports & Entertainment Group.

Aspire’s 2015 campaign for the 13th annual Honda Battle of the Bands was 16 weeks long with three sales consultants selling out of Aspire’s National Sales Center in Atlanta. Aspire also provided strategic intelligent e-marketing support to digitally prequalify leads and improve the sales efficiency of the sales consultants.

“Success came easy when we had the chance to partner with such a great organization like Urban Sports and their team,” stated Darren Arnold, Director of USA National Sales Center. “Building on the positives from our first campaign in 2014 coupled with our team’s diligent work and added strategic e-marketing efforts, we feel led to a great fan experience in 2015. We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg where this partnership can go.”

Launched in 2003, Honda Battle of the Bands (HBOB) is an annual marching band competition which features performances by bands from historically black colleges and universities. The showcase takes place in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia every January. Urban Sports and Entertainment Group oversees the promotion and execution of each event and through 2016 The Aspire Group will continue to provide Ticket Marketing, Sales and Service support.
About The Aspire Group
The Aspire Group is a global sports and entertainment marketing firm that specializes in enhancing every stream of revenue and building lifelong fans for our clients through superb fan engagement and service. The Aspire Group currently works with client partners in North America, Europe and Australia providing ongoing strategic and implementation support in ticketing, consulting, research, marketing enhancement, and sport investment optimization. The Aspire Group has become the global leader in outsourced revenue enhancement with over 130 sports and entertainment properties who have trusted Aspire to drive revenue, attendance and enterprise value.

Forbes Names The Aspire Group One Of The Ten Best Organizations to Work For In Sports

Posted on: March 11th, 2015

Forbes has named The Aspire Group as one of the “The Top 10 Best Organizations To Work For In Sports” based on employee satisfaction, work-life balance and opportunity for career growth.

Dozens of executives and individuals at all levels of sports, from entry-level sales staff to team presidents, as well as top executive recruiters and university leaders who’ve trained countless generations of top industry professionals, were interviewed to determine who would made the list. The Aspire Group, along with other notable organizations such as the National Football League, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Cavaliers and The Ohio State University Athletic Department, were included in this list based on their dedication to employee development and ongoing success in the sports & entertainment industry.

The Aspire Group follows the Disney Loyalty Profit Chain philosophy of putting leadership excellence first which in return maximizes employee satisfaction, which then leads to the highest level of customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and finally profitability/ sustainability. This philosophy has contributed to Aspire offering employees the highest quality ticket marketing, sales and service training, developing “Raise Your Game” a unique executive development program which is so advanced that it is in the process of approval for graduate school credit by major state universities in the USA and England, and has resulted in leaders and staff retention numbers that far exceed sport sales and service industry standards.

“With 14 new client partners already secured in 2015, the industry is already aware of just how good and productive the Aspire staff are. We are immensely proud of this recognition from Forbes and grateful for Aspire’s inclusion within this most prestigious group. This award will no doubt further increase the size and quality of our recruiting pool as the broader world of sport more widely recognizes what our staff already knows, Aspire is a superb place to launch and further develop one’s personal brand and achieve the fullest career potential” stated Dr. Bernie Mullin, Chairman & CEO of The Aspire Group.

To read the full article and see what other organizations made The Top 10 Best Places to Work in Sports, click here.

Welcome to Club Erwin, where UT’s changing the gameday experience

Posted on: February 16th, 2015

Austin American-Statesman

By: Brian Davis

The person most responsible for turning up the music, finding DJs and bringing fireworks to Texas athletic events is Felisa Israel, a striking brunette just under 6 feet tall with copper-toned skin, charisma and someone who, quite frankly, got a little freaked when the locals refer to her as ma’am. She’s from LA.
Israel, who has a long background in working with NBA teams, had never really spent much time in Austin. She knew of Texas men’s athletic director Steve Patterson from their days together at the Portland Trail Blazers. When Patterson came to Texas in the fall of 2013, he saw what most Longhorns fans have known for years. The Frank C. Erwin Jr. Special Events Center has about the same dull, lackluster basketball atmosphere as the name implies. No offense to the progressive former Texas regent, of course.

So Patterson hired Israel to, as she said, “sprinkle some professional sports dust on what’s going on here.”

Welcome to Club Erwin. Patterson didn’t want to know what was planned. “They told me they had some good things coming and they wanted to surprise me,” he said. Israel went to work. “The first thing that came into my head was how am I going to incorporate Kevin Durant’s MVP speech?,” Israel said.

The arena staff was incredibly helpful with some out-of-the-box ideas. What about lasers? What about video mapping, the hot new NBA craze? That’s where an image is projected onto the floor to give it a three-dimensional look. Katy Perry used it during the Super Bowl. But Israel said 90 seconds of video mapping costs $100,000. Per game. “I said let’s get a $7,500 disco ball and start with that,” Israel said. A new pregame video featuring Durant, a darkened arena, lights bouncing off the mirror ball and some on-court pyrotechnics create a completely different environment lasting 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

“I think they’ve tried to embrace who we are. I think it’s awesome,” said Texas coach Rick Barnes, now in his 17th season. “I know I appreciate it, and I know the players do.”

Listening to feedback

Remember that survey the Longhorn Foundation sent out in September asking questions about the game-day experience? An astounding 5,500 people responded. From the sound of things, Texas fans just let ‘em have it. “In every single aspect of our business, we are listening,” said Steve Hank, Texas’ chief revenue officer. Overwhelmingly, the survey results said, “the game experience in men’s basketball was not where it needed to be.” Hank promises the athletic department will conduct the survey every year to track improvements. Patterson made a lot of die-hard fans nervous when he first took over in November 2013 because he suggested changes were coming. “Everyone’s afraid of change. Everyone’s afraid of the unexpected,” Israel said.

Club Erwin is a prime example of Patterson’s laser-like focus on improving customer relations and the fan experience. That’s what Disney Institute officials stressed during their meetings with Texas administrators in Orlando, Fla. “We can’t control what happens on the field, but we can control how people feel,” said Brent Centlivre, Texas’ account manager at the Disney Institute. “Even if it’s a close game and we lost, did someone thank me for coming? Did someone say they appreciate me being here? “I’m going to remember how someone treated one of my daughters as opposed to whether Texas won the game,” he added.

Does winning or losing change how one feels about the game experience? Possibly. Everyone loves to say they were at the 2005 national championship game at the Rose Bowl. Not too many brag about being there in 2009. Cliff Mountain, the CEO of Open Labs, has been a Texas football and basketball season ticket holder for more than 15 years. He truly enjoys the new atmosphere and understands what Patterson is trying to accomplish. “Austin have a lot of places to spend their entertainment dollars,” Mountain said. “The fan experience has to deliver something incremental. Part of the incremental piece is winning.”

Bringing fans back

Reporters who cover Texas football games would be aghast at the scene in the Royal-Memorial Stadium press box. It now looks like a Wall Street trading floor, with dozens of computer workstations, dual monitors and more than 20 people smiling and dialing. The press box inside Bellmont Hall is now the home to “the largest customer service and sales team in collegiate athletics,” said Bernie Mullin, CEO of The Aspire Group. “It’s not even close.”

Patterson initially signed a one-year services contract with Aspire to outsource Texas’ ticket selling operations. Texas and The Aspire Group are now engaged in talks to sign a multiyear extension, according to Texas officials.

The partnership must be working. Men’s basketball ticket sales are way up. Sales of six-game mini plans are up an eye-popping 325 percent, from 277 packages sold during the 2013-14 season to 1,129 this season. The Aspire Group receives a monthly $15,000 management fee, according to the initial contract obtained by the American-Statesman. Ticket representatives, many of whom are mid-to-late 20s college graduates getting their first break in the sports business, receive commissions based on their weekly season-ticket sales totals. And Aspire engages in revenue sharing once Texas goes over 10 percent of its annual sales goals. No matter how many tickets Aspire sells, the company is capped at 15 percent of revenues. Every season ticket holder is assigned to a sales rep. If you are a Texas season ticket holder, odds are someone has likely tried to call you.

Carly Reger handles service inquiries and manages those responsible for season ticket retention. Max Kozinn oversees new sales. Mino Solomon runs the entire department. All of them came to UT with some kind of professional sports backgrounds. If you send an email to complain about something, these three will probably read it. “Today, there was a lady who sent an email that said my floor at the Erwin Center has been sticky since the beginning of the season,” Reger said. “Within five minutes, we’ve got somebody at the Erwin Center headed to mop the floor where she sits.”

So what about football? 

It’s clear that changing that fan atmosphere at men’s and women’s basketball is paying off. But what about football? “Wabash Cannonball, March Grandioso, Texas Fight, that is not going away,” Hank said. “We are not here to denigrate, ruin, get rid of the traditions that have made the University of Texas great. But you know what? Every tradition started somewhere.” Israel has carte blanche to try new things this fall at Royal-Memorial Stadium. As a self-professed “band geek,” she smartly brings up ways to go about highlighting the Texas band. “I definitely want to enhance it. I want to make it more fun, make them more of a presence than they already are,” she said. School officials have already confirmed to the Statesman that Jet Pack Guy won’t return in 2015. Trey Goldsmith, longtime marketing consultant for Mighty Fine Burgers, is excited about what opportunities lie ahead at Texas athletic events.

“The fact they’re willing to do a jet pack says to me they’re willing to do almost anything,” Goldsmith said.

So what’s next?

“Alien spaceship from Mars coming to drop off hamburgers!,” Goldsmith declared. “Maybe not.”

 

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