Keen cyclist Mike Gregoire is the CEO of New York enterprise software firm CA Technologies, which is valued at $14 billion (£11 billion) on the NASDAQ stock market.
This weekend, he’s invited 35 of his biggest customers to watch the final stage of the Tour de France in a bid to build and strengthen his company’s relationship with them. They will spectate from the finish line on the city’s famous Champs Elysées.
Customers of CA Technologies include the likes of BT, Loreal, Orange, and Qantas but the company wasn’t willing to disclose which particular firms — or indeed which executives — will be in attendance this weekend.
While in Paris, guests will also be given behind the scenes access to riders in the Trek Segafredo cycling team, which uses CA Technologies’ software to ensure each bike is perfectly set up for each rider.
As if that wasn’t enough, CA Technologies’ guests will also get the opportunity to jump on a bike themselves and participate in a group ride, where they will be given a special cycling jersey.
This might all sound like a lot but it’s worth it, according to Gregoire. “It’s fun and customers love it,” he told Business Insider at CA Technologies London office this week.
“There’s multiple purposes [for the hospitality],” Gregoire added. “First of all, it’s an opportunity to have some one-on-one time [with customers] and we have an opportunity to explain our company and our products. Also, Trek are a great ambassador for us.”
The Tour de France Trek Segafredo team uses a piece of CA Technologies software called “Flow Dock” to help them get the optimum settings on each rider’s bike.
“Flow Dock is a piece of communications software they [the Trek team] use to get instantaneous feedback from the riders on what’s happening with the bikes,” said Gregoire. “So they will be on their PCs and talk about the seat height, or the stem making noise, or when I was riding at 45 mph I had a slight vibration in my fork.
“As soon as they provide their information it gets disseminated to all the people that are subscribed to that link that have anything to do with the bike. You think it’s just a bike. Not at this level. There’s a person that runs wheels, a person that’s worried about cranks, a person that’s worried about brake surfaces.”
Gregoire declined to reveal how much the event is costing CA Technologies. “In the realm of customer hospitality, it’s medium,” he said. “It’s not like the Masters. We used to sponsor the Masters. The Superbowl we’ve done before [as well], that’s very expensive.”
Gregoire is a self-confessed cycling fanatic so it’s no wonder he enjoys taking customers to the Tour de France. Just last weekend he took part in The Tahoe Trail, which is a 100km mountain bike ride in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which straddles the borders between Nevada and California.
“They just absolutely love cycling in Europe,” said Gregoire.
On this weekend’s closing stage, Gregoire said: “The British have quite a good team this year. [Mark] Cavendish is killing it. [Chris] Froome is killing it. So there’s lot for the British to be happy about.”