Schuyler has a wealth of innovative knowledge in the sport industry, in addition to being an amazing, strategic, out of the box thinker. His ability to think ‘big picture’ helps him land the big deals with major companies around the globe as well as driving huge success for his clients.
KRISTEN SONSMA: What would you say is the main vision behind your role as the Director of Revenue Development for the Los Angeles Dodgers?
SCHUYLER HOVERSTEN: The vision is to be cross-departmental and look at revenue opportunities that exist among all of our business units – Sponsorship, Premium Sales, Ticketing, Stadium events and rentals, Concessions and Merchandise. It’s a more efficient approach to driving our revenue in that I’m looking out for all opportunities rather than just focusing on one specific department.
KRISTEN SONSMA: We share a bit of history that includes working with the Colorado Crush, in AFL alongside John Elway and Michael Young. As Vice President of Business Development of that organization, what were some of your key takeaways from that opportunity?
SCHUYLER HOVERSTEN: Primary take away from that role is – work for good people that trust you to do what’s best for the organization. Michael and John empowered me with so much autonomy to really just go out and make things happen, that trust is something that made the role and every day with the team truly rewarding. Secondly, the Crush/AFL provided great challenges, namely having to deal with public misperceptions about the sport, and strategizing on how to get people to come to games. It really helped me immerse my mind in the worlds of ticketing, marketing, and game day entertainment as they were all so integral to our success.
KRISTEN SONSMA: I’m sure everyone would be curious to learn about your greatest learning experiences going from an AFL team, which is a smaller sports brand, to the Los Angeles Dodgers that is a large very well known brand in a very large city?
SCHUYLER HOVERSTEN: There are several notable differences, but the one I truly enjoy on a daily basis – and this was what got me to accept the role – is that the Dodgers brand although iconic, established, and massive, is still so underdeveloped. There is so much potential for growth among all our business units. I spend a lot of time thinking about non-traditional ways to grow premium sales while attracting large scale, marquee events to the venue is also an exciting focus.
Additionally, the size of the LA market and the brand equity we have provides me the opportunity to work with so many brands on a variety of scales. For instance, in the same day we are thinking of a multi-faceted entitlement opportunity for United Airlines, while also creating a wine tasting event with Silver Oak to enhance our premium seating environment. The scale is so different, but they’re both exciting!
KRISTEN SONSMA: You’ve mentioned before about the ability to view new revenue opportunities through the CFO lens, an Account Executive lens, the fans experience, and the perspective of overall global impact to the brand. What is the benefit of a sports organization to have this level of insight?
SCHUYLER HOVERSTEN: First, there’s something to be said about having a variety of minds in the room as I’ve always enjoyed hearing others’ perspectives. One in particular that I have enjoyed over my past 2 years is our CFO’s, as it has helped me become even more analytical in my process and ensuring that we structure deals that make sense for the company as a WHOLE, not just one particular unit.
This is easier to do in my world because I’m constantly thinking about ways to drive business among our departments, and looking at generic revenue development – rather than a departmentally specific approach. The additional layer there is the fan experience standpoint, for our premium department, I am looking at partnerships that bolster the fan experience. For instance the Silver Oak event I mentioned or opportunities to offer unique member amenities/offers, or even a higher level merchandising strategy for this discerning clientele.
KRISTEN SONSMA: Can you share with us an example about a project you are implementing to enhance the brand and fan experience at Dodger stadium?
SCHUYLER HOVERSTEN: A good example of one that hits on a variety of levels and shows you the varied layers I think about is the new print medium I’m launching for the Dugout Club this season in conjunction with the Robb Report. This new publication will be exclusive to our premium fans and will differ from your traditional playbill in that the content will be more lifestyle focused and resonate more with the reader and their various interests/lifestyle. So this initiative was about becoming more relevant to our high revenue generating fans, appealing to their interests through unique content, creating a new revenue stream for advertisements, while also having these partners bring offers or experiences to the table for our premium clients to enjoy!
KRISTEN SONSMA: What do you think are a few skill sets you’ve acquired and implement that have made you so successful to get you to where you are today?
SCHUYLER HOVERSTEN: My ability to take extreme ownership in what I do. I fight for things that I know are right for the company even if the odds are stacked against me. I tend to be unyielding with the things I believe in!
While being competitive is a great trait, especially in sales, it’s also important to be a good team player and help others succeed. If you really want to thrive and grow quickly in a company you have to contribute to the success of others.
Additionally, I can’t underscore how essential my rhetoric and ability to write have been integral to my winning some of the battles I’ve fought. While I detested grammar and vocabulary growing up, it can really set you apart if you champion it.
KRISTEN SONSMA: With all the talk of new media channels, how do you think this affects the opportunity for revenue development in an organization? Is there a revenue opportunity?
SCHUYLER HOVERSTEN: The MLBAM deal is certainly a clear indication of this as they were forward thinking enough to see that there was going to be a massive shift to digital content. This has of course been evidenced by how much time we spend online, on devices, or on facebook/twitter. While we are fortunate to have many strong traditional partnerships that compose the core of our sponsorship revenue, we need to stay on top of all the emerging ways we can deliver for sponsors. Technology is evolving so quickly now and I think it presents an exciting opportunity for us to evolve with it.
KRISTEN SONSMA: As we are always looking to give back to those just starting out their sports career and looking to achieve your level of success, are there any last pieces of advice you can share?
SCHUYLER HOVERSTEN: I would strongly suggest you do some solid soul-searching if you will or just deep analysis on what you are trying to achieve in life. Meaning both the short and long term goals you have for your career and life – as in where do you see yourself, how will you get there, and the financial means you’ll need to support the desired lifestyle; these thoughts SHOULD impact the decisions you make. I say this because you need a solid gut check before you enter a career in sports. There are so many people wanting to get in on the ground level and get their start but don’t really know why. Also, there are far fewer jobs on the top so be sure it’s something you love to do even if you’re not a senior executive as it takes time to get there.
I’d try to figure out WHAT you are good at and clearly connect that to your role within the organization. How you can be an asset but more notably do you have the skills to advance quickly and get rewarded financially? Also, while it’s important to “swim in your lane,” don’t be afraid to continually think about other opportunities outside of your specific role. Have your mind toil with them, always ask questions of your superiors, see what they’re working on, the issues their faced with, what came up in their meetings etc. Before you know it you’re thinking just like they are!
KRISTEN SONSMA: What is the best way for others to get in touch with you who are looking to chat a bit further?
SCHUYLER HOVERSTEN: Always happy to help people with career advice as long as they’re not just looking for a job! – firstname.lastname@example.org