An interactive networking experience, breakout sessions covering topics including digital media trends and strategies, insight on the Blue Jackets fan base, how to best use logo rights and a keynote address from an industry leader in sports marketing – those were just a few of the highlights at the Columbus Blue Jackets Partner Summit.
A.J. Maestas, President and Founder of Navigate Research, gave the keynote speech at the event. Chicago based Navigate Research is industry leader in evaluating and measuring marketing investments, who has measured the impact and ROI of hundreds of sponsorship deals and has valued billions of dollars in sponsorship transactions on behalf of brands, properties, universities and agencies.
Maestas said he has attended various team and professional sports league summits, and called the Blue Jackets’ edition a first-rate event.
“This was excellent,” Maestas said. “It’s just an example of what a great organization this is, that this many people came out and it was so professionally run that it competes with events that the other leagues hold. They really are good on the business side here.”
The summit, which was held on July 23 at Hollywood Casino in Columbus, began at noon and lasted well into the early evening hours.
A.J. Poole, Blue Jackets VP of Corporate Development, said an important aspect of the summit was providing partners with the information and tools they need to better utilize their relationship with the team.
“We brought in a host of third-party experts,” Poole said. “A.J. Maestas spoke at length about trends in the industry, where dollars are currently being spent versus where they can be spent most efficiently and things along those lines.
“Those are examples of some of the tools that we try to provide of not just us saying it, but other independent parties that don’t necessarily have a vested interest to try to make sure that it was as impartial as possible to really drive as much value as we could for the partners.”
The summit served as an outlet for partners and corporate sponsors to gather in one place to learn, network and also have some fun.
Randy Flesch, Manager of Eastern District Brand Marketing at Marathon Petroleum Company, said one aspect of the event that he most enjoyed were the numerous opportunities to interact and connect with the other attendees.
“We also got selected on different teams to participate in kind of a little ice-breaker, fun activity that had a little golf twist to it and also had a competitive twist to it,” Flesch said. “So you saw the inner competition come out in each individual, but that was team-oriented, so it was very good.”
“At the end of the day, you found yourself getting to know a very wide spread group of people, both with the Jackets, outside the Jackets, in your industry, outside your industry, so I thought that was exceptional.”
The final presentation, a panel discussion consisting of John Davidson, President of Hockey Operations, Larry Hoepfner, Executive VP of Business Operations and Kathryn Dobbs, VP of Community Relations and Executive Director of the Blue Jackets Foundation, discussed the future of the Blue Jackets – on and off of the ice.
“They are very seriously committed to the city and the community and numerous cause efforts,” Maestas said. “There is no question that their theme for this year and mission and the plan and the intent of this team is beyond just sports. They’re trying to create a healthy and wealthy city and a great community and a great place to live, and they’re trying to represent Columbus on a global stage, which things like the All-Star game let them do. To hear their message that it’s beyond just sport is awesome.”
In addition to the Blue Jackets top-level management and industry leaders, Blue Jackets forwards Boone Jenner and Ryan Murray stopped by to chat with attendees as well. With the conclusion of the event came a cocktail and h’ors d’oeuvres hour, and one more chance to connect and reflect on the day.
“I think everybody here got something out of the day, there’s no doubt about it,” Flesch added. “It may be different, it may be similar, but I guarantee everybody got something out of the day. And I thought the wrap-up session, with (John Davidson) and the rest of the panel was particularly good. It’s always good to get an insight on the team itself, for the upcoming season, especially if you’re a true Blue Jackets fan, which I am.
“I think everybody – there’s no doubt about this – everybody in that room is excited for the upcoming season. So that tells you that not only are the individuals, Blue Jackets supporters and fans, but the companies that they represent are true, loyal Blue Jackets fans and supporters, and I thought that came across loud and clear.”