Brannigan Boyd from the Penticton (British Columbia) Trade and Convention Center gets down to some Philadelphia mummers music during a break Tuesday at the Global Spectrum marketing conference.
REPORTING FROM PHILADELPHIA — After four nights of doppleganger networking, mock negotiations and one incredibly loud cannon, Global Spectrum has wrapped its 140-person marketing conference, saluting the city and executive team that founded the fast-growing firm.
“What makes this conference so special is that it’s your conference,” explained Comcast-Spectacor COO Peter Luukko, who opened the first day of panels Monday with a CEO's presentation at XFinity Live!, the new entertainment district on the footprint of the Wells Fargo Center (and the site of the former Philadelphia Spectrum). There was a dinner on the 46th floor of the Comcast building, featuring breath-taking views of the city and stops at local institutions like the famed Waterworks restaurant and McGillians, the oldest pub in the city. Monday's session was opened by a surprise pep talk from Flyers' head coach Peter Laviolette, who offered the crowd an inspirational locker-room style pep talk and asked for help developing a slogan for next season.
It has been quite a journey for the grassroots conference, which began in 1998 with only nine marketers sitting around a hotel suite in Boston. The conference has now grown to a three-day, four-night celebration of entertainment and sports marketing, moving each year to a new city where Global Spectrum has clients. In 2011, the marketing confab gathered in Columbia, S.C. with the help of the Colonial Life Arena team.
Each year, the Global team develops a number of creative activities to continue challenging their staff. On the opening of the conference, marketers played a matching game, locating and interviewing each other based on the celebrity likeness they most matched. After two full days at the Wells Fargo Arena and Xfinity Live!, the crew spent Tuesday evening at Fort Mifflin, where they were greeted by the boom of a deafeningly loud cannon (much to the surprise of nearly everyone present). While each activity has an element of fun, the conference seemed focused not just on growing Global Spectrum, but also on strengthening the current clients' relationships in each market the city serves.
“If you ask any employee, they’ll tell you the most important part of our business is to retain our clients,” explained Paciolan CEO Dave Butler, whose ticketing company was brought back into the Comcast-Spectacor family in 2011 when his group was purchased as part of the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger. Paciolan has a 90-percent client renewal rate, strengthened by Butler’s commitment to developing “customers for life. If I build a lifelong customer relationship and act as a strategic partnership, they’ll come back again and again.”
Frank Russo, who handles the company's business development efforts said “the marketers are an important part of growing the company. If there is a fairground or a facility in your market that can use our services, let us know. No one knows your market better than you.”
And there's a lot of opportunity in the business right now, explained Luukko, noting that only 10 percent of facilities worldwide use the services of a private management company.
“We want to be the company that the client cannot afford to get rid of,” explained Global Spectrum COO John Page, a University of Southern California graduate and former offensive lineman who was brought to the stage with the Trojan’s fight song blaring in the background. (Trumpet-playing Russo was called on stage to the sound of the trumpeters, who played the quickly recognizable NBC Olympics jingle).
“The biggest room for growth in our company right now is content,” Page said, later adding, “Our partners at Live Nation believe their most productive year in touring will be 2013, and the convention business is expected to return next year as well. Remember that content is king and if we don’t have content, it’s our job to dig in, develop ideas, market them and make them work.”
Part of the content proposition is the hiring of Brock Jones, the former assistant general manager of the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, who was brought on board to serve as Comcast-Spectacor’s VP of Bookings and to help Global Spectrum facilities and Paciolan clients bring more acts to their arenas.
During his presentation to Global Spectrum’s marketers, he explained that the relationship between marketing and booking is more important than ever. If a marketer has an idea for an artist in their market, they should let Jones know. Conversely, if the Comcast-Spectacor team is bidding on a show and the local marketer thinks it’s going to bomb, he should also reach out.
“I want to start seeing our marketers building different shells in their community” based on genre, he explained. “We should have a shell for urban music, and one for the black T-shirt-wearing indie rock crowd. If you think bluegrass might work in your market, build a shell around that.”
He also told the audience to start branding their in-house promotes as Global Spectrum Presents, saying that he wanted to climb the industry trade rankings and “let the agents and managers know how much buying power we have.”
He said he hopes to increase everyone’s workload with an uptick in concerts and events, joking that the surge will create happier bosses, additional revenue and more stress for just about everyone else.
“You might want to take up smoking, drinking or maybe both,” he kidded with the laughing crowd. “By the end of this, you will have a bad habit and it will probably get worse.”
Interviewed for this article: Peter Luukko, (215) 994-7287; John Page, (215) 389-9558; David Butler, (949) 632-6601; Brock Jones, (215) 336-3600; Frank Russo, (860) 657-0634