Ottawa Senators customizing fan experiences to boost attendance in new season

Canadian Tire Centre
The Canadian Tire Centre.
Editor's Note

This story was updated to reference the Ottawa Senators' "Omni Pass" offering.

Letting fans and corporate groups customize their experiences at Ottawa Senators games is the latest pitch Sens management is making to attract bigger crowds to the Canadian Tire Centre this season, according to a recent panel event with the team’s front office.

The latest edition of the Ottawa Board of Trade and Ottawa Business Journal’s Local Breakfast Series saw Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion, former defenceman Chris Phillips, chief revenue officer Mark Bonneau and Danielle Robinson, the president and CEO of the Ottawa Senators Foundation, speak to a group of local business leaders and community members at the Kanata Golf and Country Club on Tuesday.

Attendance has been a struggle for the Sens in recent seasons, hitting a 22-year low in 2018-19. At the Local Breakfast Series, the organization’s reps touted plans to improve the local club’s marketing game through customization and brand awareness during what’s being called a “transitional year.”

Dorion had one ask for the panel’s attendees as the team looks to bounce back from its last-place finish in the previous season: “patience.”

According to Bonneau, the organization is “focused on creating (an) all-inclusive experience between networking, culinary and dining out,” and has been working on this initiative for the last five years with the implementation of Club Bell, the Brookstreet Lounge and the Hard Rock Club and through this year’s partnership with The Royal Oak.

“It’s a one-stop shop (in terms of the event, food and connecting with others) when you buy your ticket, so it really is about transforming the business community and the customers’ experience at the Canadian Tire Centre,” Bonneau said. “It’s really about creating customized content and living inside the social ecosystem that we have.”

Bonneau
Ottawa Senators chief revenue officer Mark Bonneau at the Local Breakfast Series on Oct. 8. Photo by Melissa Novacaska

Bonneau gave the example of the "Omni Pass," which allows fans and businesses to have different seats and suites depending on their goals, such as business development, employee rewards, team-building, networking and client appreciation.

“Essentially you create your program with us. Our marketing and sales teams are really not selling a commodity … there’s a lot more about customization and flexibility,” Bonneau said.

On the Foundation side, Robinson said there are a few new projects in the works, including extending the usual 50/50 draws beyond just game crowds.