On Location Boosts Staff, Eyes Global Deals

From the Sports Business Journal

By Daniel Kaplan & Michael Smith

On Location Experiences, the NFL’s hospitality partner, has revamped and expanded its sales and marketing staff in recent weeks at its growing New York office, while also building a network of international sales agents across Europe, Mexico and China.

The moves come as the company this week begins marketing its premium Super Bowl hospitality to every Minnesota Vikings ticket holder, marking the first time the company has reached out like this to a host city’s fans. Super Bowl LII is in Minneapolis.

“Coming out of the Super Bowl, we’ve rebuilt the organization, added some very capable people and built out a very solid sales organization,” On Location CEO John Collins said. “They’re all New York-based — I want everything associated with revenue in New York with me — with significant experience in premium sales, which is mostly what this is.”

On Location at the Houston Super Bowl engaged with 28,000 fans on game day from tickets to events, and 30,000 through its parties in the three days leading up to the game via the music festival at Club Nomadic.

In Minneapolis, the company will manage Super Bowl Live, the downtown festival that each host city manages. OLE also will have a hand in the Vanity Fair party and perhaps others, meaning the premium hospitality agency will entertain four to five times as many people in Minneapolis than last season in Houston.

Part of the new sales approach is being put into place this month by working with the host club to market its premium Super Bowl offerings. The Vikings will put OLE in touch with all of its season-ticket holders, suite holders, PSL holders and corporate partners, exposing On Location’s products to many more people in the host city.

That has Collins adding staff and restructuring the sales and marketing team to meet the demand for all of the new and enhanced inventory. OLE is owned by RedBird Capital Partners, Bruin Sports Capital, 32 Equity (the entity that oversees the NFL’s private equity efforts) and Jon Bon Jovi.

Minneapolis will mark OLE’s third Super Bowl but its the first full year with all of its new lines of business integrated into the company. Collins led the acquisition of Sean Connolly’s Kreate Inc. and Jack Murphy’s Nomadic Entertainment late last year, while also negotiating a joint venture with Ricky Kirshner’s event business.

With those businesses fully on board now, On Location’s competencies break down into three buckets: sales and marketing; live events; and travel management, which is largely the Anthony Travel business, such as booking hotels and transportation.

OLE is up to 370 full-time employees.

“The focus last year was acquiring the assets and the capabilities,” Collins said. “This year, we’re integrating it and building out the platforms. The vision for the next phase of the company is well underway.”

The staff adjustments and longer sales runway have OLE well ahead of its sales pace from a year ago.

To manage the accelerating hospitality program, On Location added five executives, including Brian Basloe, former chief strategy officer at Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, and Dan Rosenthal, previously vice president of corporate hospitality strategy and business integration for The Madison Square Garden Co.

Basloe joins On Location as the senior vice president who will oversee premium sales.

As part of the moves, On Location parted with Raleigh Leahy, who was senior vice president of sales and corporate partnerships. She had been a longtime hospitality executive at the U.S. Tennis Association before coming to On Location last year.

On Location now has roughly 20 employees in the New York office responsible for premium sales and marketing. Their focus is the Super Bowl, but On Location also handles the draft, international games and the Pro Bowl. Collins said he is in conversation with the NFL about all of the league’s events, including the combine, about hospitality opportunities.

On the international sales front, an area barely tapped until now, OLE has brought on Adam Wixted from Jet Set Sports, where he ran hospitality for Olympic events and also worked on FIFA World Cup and Formula One.

Wixted is charged with creating a network of international sales agents that will have access to sell OLE’s Super Bowl hospitality packages.

“We didn’t do international sales agents last year because of timing,” Collins said. “But these will be authorized sales agents across Mexico, Canada, Australia, the U.K, China, Germany, Austria and Brazil. We’re working with the NFL in countries where they have offices — China, U.K., Mexico — to help with introductions.”