Mobile Key to PGA TOUR’s Record Online Engagement Growth

The PGA TOUR is bringing the game closer to fans than ever before. They recently launched the “Live Under Par” brand campaign with a goal of extending their reach not only to golf’s core fan base, but to also appeal to a new and diverse generation of fans by celebrating content from both inside and outside the ropes that is created by players, fans and the PGA TOUR. Mobile engagement is a key strategy for nurturing and developing this important base.

In 2016, the TOUR transformed its mobile device policy, allowing fans to capture and share photos and video at tournaments. This past May during THE PLAYERS Championship, the TOUR even undertook a user-generated content campaign, dubbed #Make17Scarier, that asked fans and followers to create scenes and filters around the 17thhole at TPC Sawgrass. We can expect to see more of this, as the TOUR continues to build its mobile platforms.

Craig Duncan, Venuetize’s Chief Revenue Officer sat down with Scott Gutterman, PGA TOUR VP of Digital Operations, and Ali Quinn, The TOUR’s product manager, to discuss the role of mobile technology in engaging fans and driving sponsorship activity.

CD: What can you tell us about PGA TOUR fans engaging through mobile during the 2018 season?

 SG: When we talk about mobile, we are talking about two channels, mobile apps and the mobile Web.  Different fans use each of these platforms, with the vast majority of casual fans using the mobile Web.

Our app is used regularly by our core fans. We’ve had well over five million downloads, but the more interesting metric is daily active users. The number of visits the app gets per user is two to three times higher, and time spent on the app is much more than the website. Users are visiting the app three, four, and five times daily. We’ve seen fantastic growth year-over-year.

AQ: The PGA TOUR app has become a central point for a larger initiative  – not just segmenting our fan base, but driving their experience at TOUR events and ensuring we get them to come back. We’re working to change the relationship from a passive scoring experience to a two-way communication.

Special offers – like $10 off in the merchandise tent – can be a great incentive to download and log into the app.  With the users’ information, we can then better market, increase retention, and attract new fans.

 CD: Apps definitely differ from a Web experience in a number of ways – from requiring a log-in to push messaging. Can you talk about the benefits of that?

AQ: Logging in gets you more services and we can use that data to get to know our fans so we can serve them better at events and throughout the larger TOUR ecosystem.

SG: Users who download the app go through a wizard that walks them through preferences for push notifications. And when they favorite players or provide other information, they get more relevant information pushed to them. For the PGA TOUR brand, being there at the top of the phone, providing notifications, is extremely important.  To keep the content relevant and exciting, we are digging deeper into rich push notifications that includes images and video.  We’re already starting to do this today, pushing short videos or images of a favorite player. Our longer vision is the fan’s phone becoming proactive, rather than reactive.

AQ: It is all abut two-way communication with our fans and guiding them throughout the experience.

CD: The TOUR has gone through a dramatic shift in terms of allowing fans to use mobile phones at TOUR events. What opportunities have opened up as a result in terms of sponsorship activation?

SG: We started letting fans use mobile devices at our events on a limited basis in 2011 and expanded the policy in 2016 allowing fans to capture and share photos and video at TOUR events. Today, it is clear that if a fan is on-site at a TOUR event for more than four hours, the best way to grow our fan base is through our fans sharing photos via social media.

AQ: We say “You’re courtside all the time at a TOUR event,” and its really true. The experience is so different that our fans get such great content. We’ve actually embraced user-generated content in our platform and our advertising campaigns.

SG: In terms of sponsorship opportunities, we have mobile phone sponsors throughout the app. Brands know we have the number one app in golf and that we reach a valuable fan demographic.  We treat our app the same way any retailer treats their app – throughout the fan journey, users are getting special offers related to our partners and we’re getting onsite activation through push messaging, so if a fan is walking past the Michelob Ultra Lounge or Grey Goose Lounge, they might get a push notification for a free drink or food discount.

AQ: Another example of a sponsor campaign that leveraged the Venuetize platform is the Firestone Fan Village, where anytime a fan entered, they received a Pennzoil coupon for $10 off an oil change. In the past, we’ve also created sponsored content with our partners, where fans received 10 percent off concessions if they use a MasterCard, for example.

CD: How will this experience evolve?

AQ: The goal is to automate personalization so when fans arrive on-site, they’ll automatically receive tailored selections to guide their experience. Today, when fans arrive on-site, they get an event guide, which is a homepage only available at the event.  It’s very helpful because it customizes the fan experience, so they can find what is relevant to them at the venue.

SG: And as they move around the event, their selections change based on proximity.

CD: Has the TOUR seen a correlation between embracing the mobile platform – and all of these great features – and attracting younger fans?

SG: We’re focused on marketing the app to younger fans and anecdotal data suggests that we’re definitely reaching and interacting with them.  Over the next year, we’re going to further leverage analytics to detail who is in the app. We are very interested in that but haven’t focused on it.

CD: AR and VR are continually discussed as future engagement technologies that fans desire and the golf industry has seen some early success with virtual games.  Do you believe this technology will play a larger role for the TOUR going in 2019 and beyond?

SG: We already offer 180-degree views in the app, and we were the first sports league to have a virtual reality app on the Facebook Oculus platform, including two years of live VR from THE PLAYERS Championship.  We believe Live VR has a lot of potential and we’ll see where the headset market goes next.

In terms of Augmented Reality, we rolled out a standalone PGA TOUR AR app and we’re the first sports leagues to apply live data to AR. We can project one of our signature holes and fans can watch live and see shot trails going around the hole. Fans can look at historical shot trails. There’s a real potential to further bring people into our events with that, and we’re excited about it.

On the course, AR allows fans to look200-300 yards down a fairway, aim their phone and see who is on the tee box and see where their balls lands.  There are some technical challenges to overcome for true, live, in-person location-based AR, but we’re working on making that happen. Eventually, we’ll want to integrate our AR capabilities into the main PGA TOUR app.

CD: What else can you share with us regarding what’s to come in 2019 for the TOUR?  Anything specific to mobile that fans should be on the lookout for?

AQ: You’ll see changes in the app coming next year in terms of utility. We’re very focused on how fans use mobile and the PGA TOUR app at events and new avenues to engage them – from  ticket sales, to push notifications, to managing the fan journey around the event.

SG: Navigation will also be a big improvement for our fans.  We’re always looking to improve how fans get around the event and find what is most relevant to them.

More than anything, we continue to market in order to drive awareness of the app, so fans understand what they can do with it.  Whether they are at an event, or watching on television, we want them to be aware of the different, rich experiences they can get with the app.

Meet Team Venuetize: Santhana Muniyandi Pandyarajan

Santhana is a lead Android developer at Venuetize, working closely with his colleagues on framework design and identifying third-party integrations.

Why do you do what you do? What led you to this career?

I’ve always been interested in technology and earned a, engineering Master’s degree with a focus on communications systems.  Initially, I planned to work mostly in networking and telecommunications, but as mobile application development started emerging in early 2007, I made the move to mobile apps, starting with developing lifestyle applications in J2ME and Blackberry technologies. I got started working with Android in 2010 and from that point onwards, I’ve been focused on Android and Java.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

My most rewarding experience I think is working with and managing geographically dispersed teams. Altogether working with any team under Venuetize is exciting.

What are you passionate about outside of work?

I volunteer in a school run by Tamil Sneham where I teach the Tamil language to kids of Tamil community in Tampa Bay. We go as a family every Friday evening and my kids learn our native language while my wife and I volunteer there as teachers.Tamil Sneham is a non-profit organization intended to promote friendship and serve the social and cultural interests of people of common (Indian) cultural heritage in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. I also play volleyball on the weekends, as it was a passion for me from my school days.

What’s something very few people know about you?

I love drawing pencil sketches and also enjoy running 5Ks and half marathons. When I lived in San Diego, I used to do lot of trekking, especially the iconic Potato Chip Rock and 3 Sisters Falls.

What’s your favorite escape?

Now that we live on the East Coast, our family loves driving to Miami and enjoying the beach and other family activities. When we lived on the West Coast, we loved driving to Yosemite.

Meet Team Venuetize: Diana Iriciuc

Diana is a Full Stack Developer at Venuetize, focused on our safety & security solutions. 

Why do you do what you do? 

I have always been passionate about new technologies and I am excited to be a part of the team at Venuetize. I particularly enjoy working on designing elegant and user friendly applications.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I love seeing a feature come together from beginning to the end, especially when it’s a capability that is in high demand. But the most rewarding part is hearing feedback from satisfied customers about how the product has been used in a serious incident.

What are you passionate about outside of work?

I am absolutely passionate about my family.  Being a traditional Moldavian, I have a really big family. Between the delicious Sunday lunches and family vacations, we spend a lot of time together.

Who’s your hero?

My Dad is hands-down my hero. Moving to America, he practically had to start from scratch. He worked so hard to ensure a good future for his family. He raised us to be faithful to God and kind to everyone around us.

Describe your most memorable birthday.

There are several birthdays that come to mind but perhaps my most memorable one is my 25th. My family (and by family I mean a group of over 20 people) took a trip to Disneyland. Our last day at Disneyland was on my birthday.

Keeping Schools Safe: Easy Alert in the News

Last year, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) rolled out the Venuetize Easy Alert app in Washington State. Now the organization is focused on training the 295 school districts in the state to use it to ensure emergency responders can react and respond quickly in an emergency – and to proactively put together plans ahead of an incident. You can learn more about Easy Alert and our DHS SAFETY Act certified security platform here.

EasyAlert In Action

 

This week, KOMO-TV news ran a story on WASPC’s rollout of the Easy Alert app – and the training Washington educators are getting on the solution. You can check out the story, which details how Easy Alert is used, here.

According to David Corr of WASPC, who conducts training with educators on the system, using Easy Alert, “we work with law enforcement to predetermine where to set up incident command, where to set up staging areas for SWAT teams and fire fighters, where to put road blocks, media staging, and where we are going to have family reunification.”

We are proud to work with more than 12,000 K-12 schools and other campuses across the country to help effectively prepare for, respond to, and recover from any emergency, and are thrilled to be a part of WASPC’s proactive program to roll Easy Alert out to all of the districts in the state.

 

 

Meet Team Venuetize: Chris Dill

Chris is Venuetize’s Vice President of Business Development. According to him, “that means I help open doors that lead to sales and partnerships.”

Why do you do what you do?

Having worked in technology within the sports and entertainment field for 30 years, I have a passion for technologies that are leading the charge. Mobile has become the new frontier of the fan experience and it is thrilling to have an effect on that journey. I’m a total technology geek so the most fun part of my job is getting to evaluate a bunch of cutting edge technologies and help decide which ones fit in the Venuetize ecosystem.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Talking to people who really “get it” when I show them the platform. Hearing how impressed people are with our technology is really exciting to me and makes proud of what we’ve built.

What are you passionate about outside of work?

I love anything to do with vegetables…growing them, eating them. I’m a vegan and a total foodie. Fortunately, my wife’s a great chef so I’m pretty lucky. We turned our whole backyard into a garden to keep up with our love of vegetables and most weekends in the summer, that’s where you’ll find me.

 What’s something very few people know about you?

I had aspirations to be an Olympic ski racer when I was young.

Describe your most memorable birthday?

I spent my 60th birthday last year in Arizona seeing the Grand Canyon and getting married to the love of my life in Sedona.

Meet Team Venuetize: Adam Keller

Adam Keller is a Mobile/Scrum Product Owner, and works closely with our clients as our development team engineers their custom mobile applications.

Why do you do what you do? What led you to this career?

I have worked in and around software development for over a decade, and am an ardent Agilist. The Agile Mindset is fueled by compassion and teamwork, and that is why I embraced the Scrum Process. I have been extremely involved with the Florida Agile community; even hosting my own Lean Coffee for several years, which provided Agilists in the Tampa Bay market a platform to discuss experiences and ask questions. My experience as a Scrum Product Owner, married with Venuetize’s commitment to Agile, has created a complimentary partnership. I love watching software come to life, evolving with the change of business needs, and that is why I do what I do.

 

 What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The collaboration. I love working closely with clients, understanding their business initiatives, and delivering applications and features to support their mission. Outside of the partnerships with my clients; Venuetize has an amazing team who have been a joy to work with, and have helped me grow substantially.

What are you passionate about outside of work?

First and foremost: my family. My wife and children motivate me in everything I do (I also have a Doberman Pinscher named “Dutch” after Phillies’ great Darren Daulton, a cat, and a duck in the family…yup, we have a duck). I am also an avid drone pilot and photographer, die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan, fanatical mountain biker, and Harley-Davidson enthusiast.

If you could do anything else for work, what would it be?

I would be a photographer for National Geographic, touring every corner of the globe, documenting the human condition. Despite working in the IT Industry, I still often tote my Nikon around with me, and maybe one of these days I will have the opportunity to publish my life’s work.

What’s something very few people know about you?

I was an Altar Boy in the Philly ‘burbs.

Venuetize CTO is a Finalist for Tech Exec of the Year!

Congratulations to our CTO, Nimish Shrivastava, one of three finalists for Technology Executive of the Year in the Tampa Bay Tech Awards! Winners will be announced on November 9.

Check out this excerpt from his nomination:

Nimish Shrivastava is an innovator. He has a long history of creating successful mobile solutions, having launched a range of entertainment apps long before the advent of the Apple App Store. He is the author of multiple patents, and has led teams that have developed innovative proximity solutions that leverage the power of mobile to personalize interactions consumers have with brands, venues, and other technologies.

A serial entrepreneur, Nimish was founder and CEO of eMbience, a leading provider of mobile applications and proximity marketing solutions for sports, media and entertainment companies. Prior to eMbience, Nimish founded (and later successfully sold) Calyx Software Pvt. Ltd., which provides end-to-end mobile solutions for life sciences and healthcare applications, bringing innovative solutions to emerging markets. He also founded Mast Mobile Media Pvt. Ltd (originally Mediasoft Pvt. Ltd.), which provided innovative mobile solutions in music and entertainment for operators and OEMs.

As the CTO at Venuetize, Nimish motivates his teams to think creatively about real-world problems and develop innovative solutions that change the game for clients. Under his technology leadership, Venuetize has successfully developed a platform that connects both the physical and digital world so that visitors to any venue or destination can totally personalize their experience.

Congratulations, Nimish!

 

Meet Team Venuetize: Kiran Naraharisetti

Kiran Naraharisetti is a Technical Product Owner and Project Manager at Venuetize where she works closely with our customers.

Tell us about your job here at Venuetize.

As a product owner, I communicate with our customers to formulate a product concept. I articulate user stories based on interviews and I am the voice of customer to our internal team. In my role as project manager, I determine which features and functionality will be included in each release based on the customer’s priorities and am responsible for managing the project, skills, scope, time, cost, communications, risk, and quality.

Why do you do what you do?

I love what I do. It is as simple as that.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Team work – we have a real collaborative spirit here at Venuetize and I enjoy working with my colleagues as part of a team committed to the company’s success.

Meet Team Venuetize: Kiran

What are you passionate about outside of work? I am passionate about Earth, nature, traveling, books, and volunteer work among other activities. I participate in SEVA (Society Enrichment through Volunteer Activities) a volunteer group within my temple for fund raising activities to help flood, cyclone, and medical relief funds in India. We also collect clothes, books etc. to donate to children in need.

Who’s your hero?

How do you feel when someone is your hero? When you are valued, supported, loved, and helped you to be ready to face the world! All of us have someone we especially admire, and some we even consider as heroes for one reason or another. The dictionary describes a hero as a man admired for his achievements or qualities. My heroes are my father and the man I married. Both of them were ordinary, hard-working, honest sort of guys. Taking care of his wife and looking after his children. Standing up for what’s right and watching out for those who are in need. Following God. An everyday hero. They were identical in some ways but worlds apart in some ways. While my husband was brave and tough, my father was kind and sensitive. How they impacted my personality? I learned so much from both that no university on earth could teach.

What’s the first thing you notice about someone?

Their eyes. They show energy, mood and window to their personality. I like to observe other people’s smiles too. In fact the facial expression and body language along with tone of voice and communication after an introduction really catch my attention. Some people light up the conversation just by their beautiful smile. Smiles makes the meeting comfortable while eyes are like a light that a person emits-sometimes brightly and sometimes barely.  

BusinessWoman of the Year: Karri Zaremba

Friday, August 17, Team Venuetize attended the Tampa Bay Business Journal 2018 BusinessWoman of the Year gala. Our founder and COO, Karri Zaremba, was among the honorees at this amazing event and we were thrilled to be there cheering her on.

Karri was honored for her work driving Venuetize’s success since founding the company in 2014 – and for her contributions both within the company and the larger business community.

You can read more about Karri, and the rest of the honorees here.

Venuetize User Group Forum Takes Over Topgolf

The Venuetize team was in Dallas last week for the SEAT Conference – and our annual User Group Forum meeting. In addition to sharing best practices and an overview of our platform and roadmap, we all got some quality time together, networking and building relationships.

This year, we chose Topgolf – The Colony as our venue, which gave everyone an opportunity to show off their swing and enjoy themselves, as well as network.  Thanks to all of our amazing customers and partners who were able to attend and participate.

Check out some photos below – and plan to join us next time!