Offseason Sit-Down: Michael Ramos
What are your responsibilities as the Director of Groups and Hospitality at the Kings?
My job is to ensure that we bring in new business for every upcoming season. I also strive to maintain and renew around 80-90% of our groups that come out. Fortunately, we hit record numbers last year that was based on team play, but we also have many programs that help us reach our numbers.
When the excitement and demand increases, we had lots of groups add two or three more games just based on the fun game experience. Our overall strategy looks for ways to bring in new groups, maintain our existing accounts, and ultimately make sure that our staff of eight hit their goals each year. This also includes the arena show side with events like Disney on Ice, Monster Jam, and PBR.
Can you talk about your journey within the Kings organization?
It's crazy to think that this will be my 12th season with the Sacramento Kings – an evolution that took us from Arco to Sleep Train and now to Golden 1 Center. It's been a fun ride. I have met some of the greatest people working for the Kings organization that are lifetime friends. It's definitely the people and the culture that makes this place special.
How would you define great hospitality?
I started as a seller and learned right away to provide the best customer service. It’s making sure that you know the little things. I would find out my clients’ birthdates or their favorite Kings player, or if there was an opportunity for me to go above and beyond to make someone's day better with the fan experiences that we have available.
These are all things that we look for when we're trying to put programming together on the hospitality side. We try to engage as much as possible not just with group leaders, but also with our suite clients, our partners, and our season ticket holders because everyone is a prospect that we can work with. When I attend different sporting events and I see the passion of fans, not all of them can match what we do here in Sacramento. It's always a jam-packed fun atmosphere. Our fans bleed purple and are “Sacramento Proud” and we just hope we can provide great hospitality to thank them for coming out to games and supporting us.
What is your favorite part of the job?
People. I would say it's working with not only my staff and my co-workers, but all the different departments. I love walking through the concourse and seeing past clients, current clients, and people that purchased season tickets from me eight years ago. I'm a very competitive person. For me, if I can find ways to get new groups or someone to try out something different, that's a challenge.
If I get someone to come back or add-on, that's a win and I get really excited about that. In our world, it's getting people to come back, but also to refer their friends, refer their businesses, and get people to want to come out and experience a Kings game at Golden 1 Center.
How does innovation play a key role throughout your department's efforts?
We are very lucky that our owner, Vivek, is always looking to find ways to engage with our fan base. So if there's a way that we can stand out and try something new, he will try it and it trickles down to our management team. We’re trying to engage with as many people as possible.
The communication is not always going to be by telephone, right? Now, we have tools where we can send specific text messages to different platforms. We have the opportunity to do video emails with a cool backdrop. If we're talking to a specific company, we can put their logo on there. There are new ways to talk to people. Even our processes for onboarding season ticket holders, courtside clients or suite clients have evolved. We want to make sure we stand out and do something different like personalized client jerseys or a toast at Center Court.
Within Groups and Hospitality, what is something important, but often overlooked?
The biggest thing that gets overlooked is communication and touch points, but we get better each year. We show value when we host a River Cats game for season ticket holders or we take our top-10 group clients to dinner to see how they're doing. We may surprise them with a birthday or anniversary gift. My old mentor told me that you should always want to talk to your clients every other day or maybe once or twice a week. I preach to my team that communication is key.
I’ve been invited to three different clients’ weddings – what we do cultivates a very special relationship because they probably see us more than some of their own family (20-40 times per year for events, versus I see my parents five times a year). We are committed to ensuring Kings fans have a great experience. Even though the season is only eight months, we want them to feel like we are a part of their lives all year round.
What is your favorite memory working with the Kings?
There are so many great memories, but at last year's draft when we jumped up to move to the number two spot, the whole entire staff went nuts. It was so cool because we don't always get those bounces to go our way.
How has the new Golden 1 Center helped you and your team give people a better experience?
Being downtown and being able a part of DOCO is a tremendous advantage. It makes people want to come out early to get some food/drinks or go shopping and experience the downtown area. This big, brand-new arena with the biggest scoreboard ever has great appeal.
Do you have advice for anyone wanting to follow your similar career path?
My best advice is to find one or two different mentors that you can throw back ideas or get some professional guidance from. Networking is also a great advantage at conferences or internships because you never know who might be able to help you in your career path. Be passionate about what you do, find ways to learn, grow and get better at what you do.