Sports and Entertainment Alliance in Technology (SEAT 2014) Miami July 2014

SEAT 2014 confirmed its spot as the unquestioned leader when it comes to gathering the technology professionals responsible for bringing infrastructure, applications, social media and more to bolster the game-day fan experience.

With 429 delegates/attendees and 319 commercial company attendee sponsors, the 8th Annual SEAT Conference set records in both areas, reflecting the growing trend of technology deployments and the desire to learn more from those who have already brought technology to their venues, schools and teams. Held under sunny south Florida skies at the historic Fontainebleau Resort and Hotel, SEAT 2014 was packed full of information, best practices, energetic panel debates, plenty of closed-door sessions for honest sharing of concerns, and not least of all, some fun and entertainment, Miami-style!

The concept is to allow the CIO/CTO community to share best practice with each other in closed-door sessions. Meanwhile the commercial element delivered yet again some highly informative display material where some excellent networking and business connections were made.  The break-out sessions, networking opportunities and social program allowed some great personal relationships to continue to grow in the only community of its type which had a growing international presence this year. The plan is to continue to collaborate with Major Events International (MEI) to grow this international dimension and the objective for an event in London in March 2015 is under development.

Here are some of the conference highlights:

Sunday's opening panel presentation featured three local leaders in the sports world: Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami, Tery Howard, CIO of the Miami Dolphins, and Claude Delorme, EVP of operations and events for the Miami Marlins. The "Vision from the Top" theme of the panel brought interesting insights from three very different business operations, about how technology was helping them in such endeavors as fan engagement, customer loyalty and brand awareness, as well as creating new sponsor opportunities through features like team apps and other digital platforms.

Shalala, the former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 2001, was entertaining with her candor (especially when talking about dealing with the NCAA) s well as her honesty about what Miami competes with when it tries to sell sports tickets -- "our competition [sometimes] is the sun and the beach," she noted.

In a bit of a twist, the next keynote panel Sunday featured an executive not from a stadium or sports team but instead the Chief Digital Officer for MGM Resorts International, John Bollen. Bollen's presentation, with Mobilitie President Christos Karmis, detailed how Mobilitie helped MGM build out its impressive Wi-Fi network (across eight of MGM's Las Vegas casinos and counting), and how the opportunities enabled by Wi-Fi led MGM to overhaul its entire marketing strategy. Sunday night finished off with a SEAT-specific reception in the middle of the sponsor floor, and then proceeded to several "after parties" in hotel suites, including one with hand-rolled Cuban cigars.

Monday

On Monday, the SEAT conference program split into its three main tracks: CIO, CRM and Digital Marketing. Kicking off the CIO track was an all-star panel featuring Brandon McNulty, CTO for International Speedway Corp. (owner of Daytona and other NASCAR tracks), Denise Taylor, CIO for multi-facility owner AEG Worldwide, Mike Morris, the CTO for Major League Baseball, and Tery Howard, the CIO for the Miami Dolphins.

Later on Monday morning the CRM track heard from David Peart, senior vice president of the Pittsburgh Penguins, about the team's "PensPoints" fan loyalty program, while the Digital Marketing track hosted a panel on "360 fan engagement" that included speakers from Ericsson, InStadium, Iomedia, the Miami Marlins and Kansas City's Sporting Innovations. Capping off the morning programs was a general session on "Hiring Heroes in Sports and Entertainment," where military Vets talked about how working in sports impacted their lives, and why teams and sports and entertainment organizations should look to vets as candidates.

Monday afternoon panel topics included using mobile seat upgrades to increase revenues; maximizing fan and customer loyalty through better and smarter use of CRM; and a case study of the New England Patriots' use of pervasive stadium Wi-Fi to deliver a unique game-day experience.

Closing out Monday's program was a new SEAT session, the FanZone Digital Marketing Tech Showcase, where several start-up companies participated in fast-paced presentations meant to introduce themselves to the SEAT audience. The day's work activity closed with the popular "Golden Glove" closed-door sessions, where participants from each track got together with their peers to share success stories and lessons learned, in a safe and collaborative atmosphere -- helped along by some custom cocktails created for SEAT by xxxx bartenders.

Monday night's entertainment was a private technology tour of Marlins Park, which was followed by cocktails and networking in the friendly confines of baseball's newest ballpark.

Tuesday

On Tuesday a general session with some real industry all-stars got the conversation started in great fashion, telling their success stories of bringing together the "tri-fecta" of technology, digital and fan engagement. Panel members included Michelle McKenna-Doyle, CIO of the NFL; Joe Inerillo, EVP and CTO for MLBAM; Eric Johnson, executive vice president for multimedia sales at ESPN; Fred Kirsch, publisher and VP of content for the New England Patriots; and Junior Gaspard, VP Sales and Retention at Experience.

The three tracks continued to feature real-world case studies and information geared toward helping the audience of stadium and entertainment tech and marketing professionals up their own games. From the San Francisco Giants, there was a presentation about their digital marketing success with their social-media cafe space at AT&T Park; a CIO session talked about approaches to securing data in hyper-connected sports and entertainment venues; and the Oklahoma City Thunder's VP for ticket sales, Scott Loft, told CRM track attendees about how to extract and leverage customer data to get a better handle on what customers and fans really want.

Tuesday ended with a SEAT-only trip to the Miami Dolphins' Sun Life Stadium, where cocktails and networking concluded the official SEAT program.

To register your interest in the London event in March 2015, please contact Richa Ghai This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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