For the past month, the Oakland A’s have been one of the hottest teams on the field. Off it, their group sales team might be just as scorching.
Led by Josh Feinberg, director of group sales for the club, the team has been able to pull off initiatives that range from a Greek Heritage Night to a multi-game educational series that featured a Science of Baseball Day and a Career Education Day.
Ashwin Puri, the A’s vice president of sales and strategy, noted that a shift in organizational strategy that led to more of a focus on group sales has proved to be fruitful.
“We saw a lot of value he (Feinberg) could provide the organization. So, we brought him back after two stints in the NBA and we hired a staff of dedicated group sales folks, which we never had before.”
The reason behind the move? Good business.
“We thought this was an opportunity to help us grow our business and help engage the community in ways that were creative and approachable,” said Puri when discussing the impact Feinberg and his team have made.
To make sure they were firing on all cylinders, Puri and the other A’s executives made sure that the group sales team felt empowered to come up with unique ideas within the categories of consumers most impacted by fans.
“The top six categories in sports for group sales, and these are really general, are corporations, nonprofit groups, school, religious groups, performance groups and youth sports,” Puri said. “We have empowered them to work with all the different departments internally to come up with various programs that would cater to different audiences with schools and education being one of them and a huge opportunity for us.”
Their most successful days surrounding schools and education was the two aforementioned days that featured science and careers. Across both days, the A’s saw more than 6,000 attendees and a whole lot of value according to Puri.
“The Science of Baseball Day was aimed towards a younger demographic. Together with Science of Sport, we held a demonstration to show how science is used in the game of baseball, and after that, there was a science fair at the ballpark before the game. It was a full day of activities. The career day was similar, but it was mostly geared toward an older demo of middle and high schoolers. There were a couple different speaker panels from the front office talking about their career path in sports and then there was a college fair following that before the game. So both were full days worth of activities and we thought provided a lot of value to each segment.”
While fun for the students, these initiatives serve as a conduit for the larger overall strategy for the A’s when it comes to bringing value to the community.
“Connecting with local schools is super important for us as group sales opportunity for two reasons,” Puri said. “One, group sales is a great way to fill up the stands, but also a big part of our community relations efforts are reaching out to youth in the area and connecting with them.”
Another aspect that Puri lauded was how collaborative the ticket sales team is with the marketing team and vice versa.
“It (the A’s record-breaking 56,000-plus attendance night) started with a really strong group sales effort. We coupled that with a really strong digital advertising campaign. It takes a lot of factors to kind of come together to make them have a weekend that successful. We have an awesome marketing team.”
“We collaborate in the form of determining what are the most important campaigns we want to run, what games and homestands we need support from them and they have a number of tactics that they employ to support that. I’m just thrilled with the level of collaboration support they give us on a daily basis.”
Just like on the field, success is a team effort.