Today Aston Villa’s website published an in-depth interview with the new Aston Villa Commercial Chief Luke Organ. The man enlisted by Tony Xia and Keith Wyness to bring the club back up to scratch in terms of marketing the club, improving various systems at the club like ticketing and match day services, and generally increasing the club’s off the field revenue streams.
Organ brings plenty of diverse sporting experience to the table, having spent time at the Wasps, the Lotus F1 team and the Women’s Tennis Association. Experience working in Shanghai and Beijing in China, no doubt swung the deal for Xia and Wyness, in terms of recruiting him.
In the interview, much is made of his record in turning around struggling sports organisations to make them commercially competitive, which is obviously the goal here, but at the same time a mantra we’ve heard from previous high-up employees of Aston Villa.
Now with the remit of attracting lapsed fans back to Villa Park and improving what is on offer to supporters in general on match days, Organ certainly has a lot of work to be do.
Skipping over the usual “what a big club it is” talk, below we highlight what the new Commercial Chief has to say about four key topics that have been spoken about in recent months by supporters.
The online ticketing system through Ticketmaster has long been a thorn in the side of many Villa supporter, here’s what Organ had to say about addressing that:
“I think the figures we’re looking at would take us into good territory considering, but what this window has shown is the need to invest in our call centre, ticketing technology and our marketing efforts.”
More generally, moves are afoot to make access to the stadium far more seamless for supporters.
“There has been a major overhaul of ticketing providers. We are moving away from Ticketmaster and have engaged with a company called TopTix.
“We were very impressed with their dedication to customer service and personalisation – but also their ability to help us move forward technologically with things such as mobile ticketing to loading season ticket cards with benefits gifted by the club.
“There will be a full system overhaul by the start of the season with new access technology coming shortly after. We will also follow up with the previously mentioned exciting announcements in relation to membership and loyalty programmes surrounding season ticket cards that the team are working hard on behind the scenes.”
Club Badge Issue
There is no direct mention of changing the badge again anytime soon, more the fact that the evolution to the current one hasn’t been as quick across the Aston Villa universe as expected. So fans wanting a circular design will be disappointed and will seemingly have to put that campaign on ice for another day.
“In Marketing there’s a big concentration around branding – and let’s address the elephant in the room on this one.
“My objective is to deliver profit back to the playing team although we still have to ensure all of our assets say Aston Villa in the same way.
“We are in the awkward position now with our brand where we are neither one or the other in execution. We have two different crests at present – the shirt has the ‘current’ version but around Villa Park and Bodymoor Heath we have the old logo.
“We will bring about consistency in stages – it may take three or four years. It must be relative to our total income as a club and our current position. We will treat that sensitively and take bite sizes out of that rebrand over a period of time. I hope the fans see this as a sensitive way forward.
The club have already announced improved wi-fi access in hospitality, here’s what Organ said about improved Wi-Fi for supporters and future proofing the club in general:
“We are looking to push the stadium forward. I have previous experience of doing that.
“I know fans don’t associate us with technology but I want to prove to them that we can move the club forward in this area. I love technology and the opportunities it brings for fans and partners alike and was fortunate to hone my understanding from my days in F1 and my last role. It is a passion of mine.
“We are working to move that area of the club and our digitalisation forward to catch up with others and hopefully challenge and overtake them very quickly.”
Live Streaming For Oversea’s Fans
Villa opted out of the EFL iFollow streaming service for overseas fans of Football League clubs which will start next season, so here’s an update from Organ on the proposed alternative from Organ.
“Most fans will have seen the iFollow announcement. We didn’t go down that route because it required wholesale changes to our website and our app – and essentially involved giving ownership back to the league of those club assets.
“Because of the strength of our website and app, we decided not to do that. But now that means we have to build out a production service/team to match the level of service that iFollow delivers.
“I think that iFollow is fantastic but doesn’t quite meet our needs whilst retaining independence. So we are now pilling through tenders and getting things aligned so we will be broadcasting our own games that aren’t picked by the broadcast partners, and we will not therefore use the EFL solution.
“This is a sizeable project but we hope our fans internationally take up that offering as and when it comes online.”
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