How Miami Heat uses fan data to keep its arena packed

Miami Heat is seeing higher ticket sales, happier fans, and reduced waste in seasonal games by leveraging its fans' data.
22 October 2019

NBA fans can now enter the stadium with e-tickets at the palm of their mobiles. Source: Shutterstock

“Data is a new revolution in the business of sports,” said Matthew Jafarian, Executive Vice President of business strategy for the Miami Heat and American Airlines Arena.

The National Basketball Association’s Miami Heat is set for another season of 41 home games at AmericanAirlines Arena.

In anticipation of large crowds of enthusiastic fans, Miami Heat has some new tricks to win the hearts of fans and it goes beyond the court.

Fans can look forward to a whole new experience when attending Miami Heat games or other events in the venue. An upgrade on the Miami Heat mobile app means easier access to entrance gates with a digital ticket, shorter wait time at the food stand, e-payment option when purchasing merchandise.

These features are just the tip of the iceberg in the Heat’s digital adoption, the collection of customer information and the insights gathered are the real MVPs of enhancing customer experience (CX).

Data collected are used to help the Heat understand sports fans and formulate the best ways to cater to their needs. To illustrate, an understanding of a fan’s preference in gate entrance, assembling at a certain point after grabbing a hot dog, the sales of food and merchandise.

Heat’s Data Manager Platforms Services, Lisette Toirac Perdomo, explained;

“To gain that knowledge, the team creates a 360-degree customer profile, using the data generated whenever a fan interacts within the arena or visits online touchpoints, including the Heat app,, or, the team’s e-commerce presence.”

A customer relationship management (CRM) tool like Microsoft Dynamics 365 is utilized to store and build customer profiles.

At the same time, Adobe Analytics is used to track and measure fan engagement with its platforms. Afterward, marketing teams of the Heat will strategize with Adobe Campaign to create relevant content for users, creating a personalized experience for each fan.

Alongside better CX, the Heat itself is rewarded from this digital investment.

Jafarian stated growth in revenue with an increase of 30 percent in annual season ticket sales. Moreover, the new system helps sales representatives cope with the rising sales by having a platform with ticket options for all games in the season and automatically issuing invoices seconds after a booking is placed.

Furthermore, the enterprise saved a total of US$1 million in payroll due to the staffing arrangement based on real-time analysis on crowds in the floor plan. Contributing to the drop in cost is reduced food waste and spoilage according to the system’s data on customer consumption.

“It can predict with a fair degree of accuracy, how many hot dogs or Jimmy Butler jerseys it will sell on a given game night.

“Those are data-driven decisions,” Jafarian remarked.

The success of Miami Heat in rising sales numbers after the departure of star players ⁠— LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (the Big Three), is an example of seeking technological solutions to rebuild and remodel business models which fit an audience in a digital era.

With customer data at hand and advanced technology to give an extra boost, a slam dunk is guaranteed for Miami Heat and other sports business models are picking up this strategy. 

Data-driven insights help businesses understand customers

Since its appearances in the 1940s, NASCAR is an established auto racing brand, popular both in the states and across the globe. Its desire to reach out to new audiences while staying relevant in the digital age, NASCAR is turning to digital solutions to transform its engagement with fans and venture to new markets.

The auto racing company employs Adobe’s Experience Cloud to synchronize customer data to formulate effective marketing strategies.

Data-based insights are used to package NASCAR in ways that are appealing for younger age groups, such as providing augmented reality (AR) experiences. Besides that, the demographics of fans are used to retain and attract new fans with a higher chance of success based on analytics.

Data-driven strategies to engage with current customers and attract new demographics are gaining momentum among retailers and the service industry as well.

As an example, supermarkets are digitalizing business models to fulfill evolving consumer trends. Based on data insights on consumer behavior, supermarkets can track popular products and strategize to meet consumer demands.