March Madness Is a Suite Deal For Corporate Clients
That's about the best Turnage can hope to assure clients from companies such as Oracle(ORCL) , Caterpillar(CAT) , Bayer and Johnson & Johnson(JNJ) : That when a competing company or vendor comes in with a lower price or a better deal, the client in question will remember the event, the souvenirs and the cushy amenities and show some loyalty. If there's any doubt a weekend at the games, a few autographs and a commemorative seat cushion can secure a business relationship, consider the $4,000 to $5,000 a head companies such as General Electric(GE) and Intel(INTC) shell out for packages including private tents and suites or the $12,000 to $30,000 per person companies spend when they want to really impress clients with limousines, hotels, parties and celebrity guests in the suites.
"It's so much tougher to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one," Turnage says. "I went to business school, but I didn't have to go to one to know that."
That's true on all levels of business, which gives the NCAA tournament and its corporate suites, tents, dinners and concerts a distinct advantage. Sharyn Outtrim, executive vice president of strategic events at official NCAA ticket and hospitality provider PrimeSport, lays out March Madness like a corporate perks pyramid. The bottom tier is built from early-round match-ups that companies offer to local and regional clients or as employee incentives, usually based on a client or employee's school of choice. The Sweet 16 and Elite 8 rounds are often reserved for second-tier executives -- Turnage uses regional managers and district vice presidents as examples -- and school-specific clients they're hoping to impress.