How Restaurant & Cafe Owners Can Learn from Sport Teams and Violin Players

What can sporting clubs and a classical violinist teach us about staying in touch with our customers? And not just ‘don’t forget me’ messages, but spending this time of enforced separation to build their love, enthusiasm and loyalty?

Two widely contrasting social media posts landed in my feed recently – one from ‘sports fan engagement specialist’ Blair Hughes, and the other from young violinist rock star Ray Chen.

Blair is a lifelong sports nut, and watches the way smart clubs build their connection with fans, spectators and players – at the game and through the rest of the week, online and offline 24/7. He’s just shared 200 Fan Engagement Ideas to Educate, Entertain & Connect Sport Fans During Covid-19. A week later he shared one that’s even more relevant for cafes & restaurants: 150+ Fan Engagement Ideas for Craft Breweries to Entertain, Educate and Drive Revenue.

Ray Chen started as a child prodigy violin player in Brisbane, then moved to the US on a scholarship when he was 15. His career has skyrocketed since then and he travels the world giving concerts, until the start of 2020, when live events ground to a halt. He’s rapidly pivoted to a wide range of YouTube activities – live streams, practice sessions with fans, online meetings with other performers. He even has merchandise for sale. These are not just the usual ‘turn on the camera and start recording’ videos, but he gets them cleverly edited to add snap, crackle and fun. He knows his audience!

What do they have in common? Imagination, and a commitment to the pleasure, enthusiasm and loyalty of every single fan and follower. What lessons can we take from these two passionate experts to maintain and develop our own customer connections and fan base?

Here’s Ray in a recent online coaching session, and here he is jamming Waltzing Matilda