The Super Bowl is by far the biggest television event of the year, with hundreds of millions of dollars spent on broadcast rights, sponsorship, and production costs.But it’s also an enormous live event, bringing tens of thousands of tourists and tens of millions of dollars in revenue to local businesses.
When this year’s host, Indianapolis, presented their bid to the NFL four years ago, their Super Bowl Host Committee already had $25 million in pledges from 150 companies and corporations, Dianna Boyce of the committee told BI.
Armed with that budget, the committee of 35 employees, 150 co-chairs, and ~8,000 volunteers has been charged with the crazy customer service challenge of making sure that the 150,000 visitors who take over Indianapolis in a few weeks are happy.
Here’s how they plan to do it:
Super Service Training. Unlike previous Super Bowls, Lucas Oil Stadium is in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, making it might easier to get to than, say, Cowboys Stadium outside Dallas. But that doesn’t mean it will be easy for 100,000+ out-of-towners to figure out how to get where they need to go.
In the week leading up to the game, the committee will have local volunteers (“street teams” as they call them) placed around the city to help visitors find parking, hotels, restaurants or anything else they need to find.
These volunteers were trained with an online program called Super Service Training. The program is a primer on all things customer service, encouraging volunteers to do things like “make eye contact with all guests within 20 feet.”
The program is completely public, and the Host Committee told us they’ve encouraged everyone from local cab drivers to waiters to take it.
Volunteers will be easy to spot too — every street teamer will be wearing a blue “Super Scarf” that was hand-knitted and crocheted by local volunteers.
Embracing the weather. There’s a widespread assumption that Super Bowls ought to be held in sunny locales, preferably with a beach.
Needless to say, Indianapolis in February is no San Diego. But rather than working around the weather by stuffing visitors indoors, the committee decided to treat the game as a true winter event (like staging a Winter Olympics rather than a Summer Olympics). The downtown Super Bowl Village — the main hub of Super Week, featuring concerts and other various attractions — is completely outdoors. And organisers aren’t trying to soft-pedal it to visitors: they’re telling them that it’ll be cold, so just be prepared.
In addition, the committee has contingency plans in place for any of the six different types of weather that could potentially hit the city on game day.
Making the game an urban event. Indy doesn’t have a beach, so it will make the compact downtown area the epicentre of Super Bowl week. That’s where the shopping, dining, and entertainment will take place. That’s where the Super Bowl Village will be as well.
In addition, there are 7,100 hotels rooms are in that downtown area.
How do you keep more than 100,000 giddy football fans happy in bitter-cold Indianapolis?
You create a lively, walkable downtown environment that’s packed with all the food, shopping, and concerts you need.
Minding your logistical p’s and q’s. The Host Committee has been working on staging this event since 2008. A huge part of that planning went into logistics. These preparations are done largely out of public view, but they make all the difference from a CRM perspective.
How do we get trash and people out of the downtown area every night?
Which streets make sense to close if it snows?
How should locals who work downtown continue go about their business during Super Bowl week?
Last year’s Super Bowl in Dallas was plagued with customer service issues — from icy roads to fans not being able to sit in the seats they paid hundreds of dollars for. The 2012 Host Committee has spent time (an estimated 150,000 volunteer hours, we were told), and money (a $25 million budget) to avert disaster this year.