There is only one major event that brands, media companies and fans can point to at the same time every year in the media capital of the world; New York. It’s the US Open Tennis Championships, which will finish another record year of glitz, glamour and fan engagement this Sunday. And while the grounds of the Open haven’t changed in a physical sense in the last 20 years or so, the fan experience around the grounds continues to evolve into one like no other.
From a customized fan experience by brands like Emirates Airways, Chase and American Express to kid friendly activities to a deep dive into analytics, the US Open has found a way to engage everyone, from the die-hard enthusiast to the casual fan, be he or she from New York or Beijing. The boring food of yesteryear has been replaced by the biggest name chefs and custom food experiences that New York has to offer, and the rebuilt grandstands and Louis Armstrong Stadium complement the massive Arthur Ashe Stadium to give every fan a chance at a closeup experience at some point during their visit.
From a digital standpoint, the US Open app, created and managed by IBM provides detailed information on practices and matches while at the same time offering instant giveaways and special offers for anyone to share. It customizes the experience at the touch of a screen and gives tremendous added value. And even while the grounds are crowded with over 40,000 people, for some sessions the customer service reps keep fans moving, informed and makes sure that everyone has a reason to be positive about tennis. For the elite driver with his or her Mercedes, you park for free across the street in the Citifield Parking lot. If you are an Amex cardholder there is a Centurion Lounge for some added air-conditioned comfort. Lavazza serves up both perfect espresso and cold brew, and Heineken has beer from alcohol-free to their premium pours. While the food court lines can get long, there are always reps on hand to provide alternative choices, and many covered areas to escape the heat.
While some may say the Open is too pricey for most, the reality is that an early week grounds pass for about $60 gets you more than what you would see at an MLB game and is much more akin to spring training in terms of experience and intimacy. There is also the US Open qualifying tournament the week
before the main draw, which gets fans on the grounds and experiencing tennis…for FREE! Try that next year as the best bargain in New York.
Will the US Open at some point outgrow its grounds or become too pricey even for the die-hard fan? Some may say yes, but because of its consistency of location, and its time of year and its constant improvement on the fan experience, the Open is worth its weight in gold for brands and fans. How much gold? Millions, which goes to fund the USTA budget year-round and would make it one of the highest-grossing FRANCHISES in all of sport if it were a team instead of a two-week event. It is the straw that stirs the big event drink, a Super Bowl like experience every day for two weeks, with drama on the courts, and terrific fan engagement off.
About Riptide Partners
Riptide Partners helps companies make the enhancements needed to compete and win in a consumer-centric world. Applying insight and techniques gained through years of achievement, the Riptide Partners team offers distinctly nimble CX solutions tailored to meet your company’s needs and context.