Waratahs tackle fan engagement with mobility

Wednesday, 19 October, 2011

The HSBC Waratahs rugby team has taken a step to communicate more directly with members and supporters by implementing mobile information services. Mobility is enabling the team website to become a larger part of match travel arrangements, the pre-game conversation, and in-game reporting.

In early 2011, Kym Aust-Howlett, Waratahs Rugby General Manager Commercial, met with technology and consulting services company, EcoView Global, to discuss delivering the team’s website content to mobile devices such as smartphones and PDAs.

“These days people are largely time poor and we recognised that mobile services offer a way of taking the information to our supporters so that they don’t have to go looking for it,” said Aust-Howlett.

EcoView introduced Waratahs Rugby to BlinkMobile Interactive, a mobile service delivery platform that could draw data directly from the team’s website and re-purpose it ‘on-the-run’ for delivery to mobile devices. It was an alternative to creating and maintaining new web pages or re-writing material specifically for mobile delivery.

The solution is capable of supporting a range of mobile devices, including BlackBerrys and Nokia phones, as well as Android devices, iPhones and iPads.

“Rugby has a wide demographic of supporters from older members through to a tech-savvy younger supporter base,” said Aust-Howlett. “We liked BlinkMobile because it gave us a solution that respected our older audience and the devices they tend to use, but it also gave us the ability to engage the youth segment.”

Given its assessment of the solution, Waratahs Rugby gave the project the green light.

“Building the mobility capability was very easy from our side,” said Aust-Howlett. “We’d already looked at our current website, looked at the traffic and found what people were interested in.”

“These were the pages we wanted to optimise for the mobile realm, so we worked with EcoView to create the relevant architecture for the site,” she said.

Waratahs Rugby’s internal graphic designer also worked closely with the team, creating a consistent look and feel that remained true to the organisation’s branding.

A mobile-enabled site was created covering Waratahs news, player profiles, game day information including times and venue, live scores and results and membership services. The pages also meshed with several third-party services, such as travel and transport links to and from the games venues, and integrated with a ticketing service.

If a supporter was out with friends on a Friday night, the site would allow them to identify when and where the next Waratahs game was being held, view information about how to get to the game and purchase their tickets in advance.

“It took us just two weeks to go live,” said Aust-Howlett. “All the information is pulled directly from the main website. We are very clear on the requirements of our brand and knew what we wanted from the mobile site, so it became a very easy process.”

“It became a complete extension of our marketing campaign,” she said. “The site is very much working in the sense we wanted; it has achieved our initial objectives of getting key information about the game to our supporters to make their experience a more seamless one.”

“Just like any sporting organisation, Waratahs Rugby is limited in resources, so efficiencies are extremely important. With EcoView’s help, the solution we adopted has allowed us to achieve this,” said Aust-Howlett.

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