Amanda Verhoff is the President of the Association of Luxury Suite Directors, an organization dedicated to the premium and luxury seating industry that serves sports arenas, theaters and large-scale event spaces. Amanda studied sports management in college and upon hearing a guest speaker, who happened to be the founder of ALSD, raised her hand for an internship and she has been working in the premium seating industry ever since then. Throughout this fascinating conversation, Amanda gives us insight into the premium sports experience, understanding the buyer, and singing the same song.
The premium sports experience
“Premium is more than the product, it’s the experience.”
When people think of premium seating, they likely think of the hardware… the loge, skybox, or suite that allows an audience member to view a game or performance from a specific vantage point. Amanda assures us that it doesn’t stop there and that there is a whole host of touchpoints that make up the “experience.”
Food and beverage, entertainment options and transportation services are just some of the ways that premium seating directors infuse luxury into the experience. If at a sports arena, the game for many is the main attraction, but for those in premium seating, it can serve as a backdrop to an elevated event.
Understanding the buyer
“It’s a tall task to understand the differences between different types of buyers.”
Words like premium and luxury are highly subjective. Buyers are judging the level of premium or luxury against their understanding or experience of those situations. From a selling standpoint, it takes skill to understand the buyer’s desire for luxury and where it falls on their scale – and it’s not always money-driven.
Part of the tall task of understanding the buyer is the vast difference in opinions and attitudes when it comes to just what luxury looks like. For some, it could be that every detail of the experience is planned and executed by someone else. For others, luxury could mean a decadent dessert presented in an elegant way by the culinary team. It’s the wide-ranging attitudes that keep luxury suite operators on their toes.
Singing the same song
“Ticketing, parking, and food & beverage might be different entities, but they need to be singing off the same song sheet.”
A premium experience doesn’t just happen because people are in a loge or skybox, it’s as much about the arrival and departure, navigating the venue, getting through ticketing or security, or the food and beverage offerings. This takes a lot of people working in a coordinated effort to pull it all off.
Amanda reminds us that in most cases, the people working in these various positions are actually working for different companies who have different values or processes. The key, she says, is to find the cooperative elements of service that everyone can adhere to in order to create a seamless experience.
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- Scheduling and correspondence by Kristen Karaliunas