St. Louis City SC - Matt Sebek - CXO posing
St. Louis City SC

What St. Louis City SC are building towards with Chief Experience Officer | J. Sam Jones

Last week, St. Louis City SC announced Matt Sebek as the first Chief Experience Officer in club and MLS history. 

A handful of people out there just read that first line and understood everything they need to know about what that means. Y’all can leave now. The rest of us will be here, looking at each other with our heads turned and saying, “uhh...what the heck is that?” 

Well.

“It's a role that was born really in the retail and restaurant space and for a lot of digitally native companies like Facebook, Netflix,” Sebek said. “The chief experience officer role is effectively a way to join marketing and technology initiatives. And it says we want to pull in customers and the way that we interact with them at the center of everything that we do.”

[nodding politely]

“It’s overseeing brand marketing as well as the technology that powers the in-stadium and digital experiences.”

Ohhhhh. 

Essentially what St. Louis have done is applied a modern idea to the growth of a modern sports team. There’s an understanding now in sports between fans and teams that technology is at the heart of the experience. 

You get your tickets on your phone. You follow athletes and beat writers on social media. You come to websites like this for content. Everything surrounding the fan experience happens on a digital level. So it makes sense then to bring in someone to manage all those elements through the same lens. 

“I think it's incredibly relevant in sports. The sports industry is changing in front of us and the way that fans engage with brands and clubs from social to in-stadium to e-commerce to everything in between, it can be a bit of a mess to manage,” Sebek said. “Our perspective is looking at this right from day one and making sure that the CXO is really the one that's responsible for positive interactions with our fans across all of those channels.”

Getting it right from day one means not only presenting the club as an appealing product to the masses, but ensuring that product can be tailored and appeal on an individual level. Sebek will be in charge of figuring out how to make the experience for each St. Louis City fan as personal as possible. 

Say you download the St. Louis City SC app and you’re heading to your first game. You’re also a Bosnian international and your seats are in the supporters section. The idea would be that the app could provide a completely customized matchday experience based on those attributes and more.

“At a micro level how that experience manifests itself through the app on all of our phones can be highly personalized and down to the single touch,” Sebek said.

“In delivering those personal experiences we should be able to understand, what are our fan preferences? Not only for where they're sitting and where they should enter, but also what type of food do they like, or what is their order history? Loyalty programs and rewards will be a big part of that. Of understanding who are our core supporters and understanding how we can surprise and delight fans with things maybe they wouldn't have tried without us pushing them that way.”

The goal is to encourage that tailored experience on a macro level, too. In the digital interactions St. Louis have with their growing fanbase before entering MLS in 2023, they want to showcase the best of St. Louis and the region through content and the more tangible aspects of fandom.

That can mean finding ways to represent the diversity of the city in local events or the food at the stadium, highlighting the creativity of its fanbase or…

IT CAN MEAN TAKING SOME SWEET VIDEOS OF THIS COMPLETELY INSANE CAR.

“The Audis weren't a part of my announcement, which is too bad,” Sebek said. “But I think the idea of that is St. Louis is a very humble Midwestern city. And I think we want to show a little bit more of that swagger. There is a lot of greatness here in the region and innovation and creativity is a part of that.”

So far the club has done plenty to shirk a humble identity, smashing the record for season-ticket deposits on the first day they became available. Fifty-thousand tickets in one day isn’t exactly meek. 

By hiring people like Sebek, St. Louis are actively working to flip that identity and turn some heads. Not only to connect with people on an individual level close to home, but show the rest of the league that the city, the region and the club have plenty to offer. 

“We love that that's the expectation, and I think we're embracing that head-on,” Sebek said. “If the global game is our canvas to tell some of these stories about local designers, apparel, style, food and all of those things that will come into the game day experience, then there's no better way to show the world what St. Louis is doing and why it's important."


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