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Interview with Bas Schnater, Fan Engagement Specialist


Interview with Bas Schnater, Fan Engagement Consultancy Founder

Data Analysis Online at Mediahuis Nederland



SBI: It is a pleasure to connect with you again, Bas. Can you start by telling us about your experience in the sports industry?


Bas Schnater: I started in 2007 when I enrolled in a Sports Marketing Program. Since then, I have been working during my studies in some sports events, paid less, but adding experience to my career. As part of my degree, I followed internships at Fox Sports and Eurosport, coming from my interest in the relationship between media and sport. 

In 2012, I moved to Australia where I discovered other points of view regarding sports business and I grew a lot as a professional. Here I first learned what ‘fan engagement’ was about, until then a fairly unknown term to me. From then I started to specialize myself in this domain.

When I came back I opened my own business in fan engagement but honestly I was still too young and my credibility was not yet high enough to work with the decision makers of the industry. Although it was a good learning experience and I decided to continue with my studies, so I completed a Master's degree in Communications in Belgium, and, in 2016, following my first speaking engagement at a conference, I got hired by AZ Alkmaar.

During my work at AZ Alkmaar I always kept working on my consultancy business and until now I have been working with a lot of football organizations. This has meant working a lot during weekends and outside of my regular work hours.

SBI: How did you get started in the industry? 


Bas Schnater: Among other things, luck obviously played a big role. You need to be available at the right time at the right moment. There was a job opening at AZ at the same time that I was graduating. Secondly, you need to put a big amount of work upfront, that would be my biggest advice to those aspiring to work in sports. I worked at the World Cup Field Hockey for free, volunteered at the Australian Open and did many events against any cost just to build my experience and profile. 

Finally, I have a really big internal motivation. If you want to work in the industry because of the fancy moments (e.g. the external factors), you won't last long. It needs to come from passion.


SBI: What does your current role entail?


Bas Schnater: I am a content data analyst where I help a publisher to find out what is the value of content that they make and how they can market it in better ways. I focus on how they can understand to produce and distribute content smarter. Also, we try to align this with how the conversion takes place and when.


At this employer I am fortunate enough to contribute to the bigger goal (smarter stories) and to grow my skillset at the same time.



SBI: Has sports business education helped you in your career? Do you recommend people to continue educating themselves?


Bas Schnater: Yes and No.


No, because it is valuable to have a sports background but it is even better if you have a background in other industries instead. If you work in the business side of sport, you will need to understand a lot of the things and other elements that affect the organization. 


On the other hand, yes, it is always good to have relevant sports studies that allow you to keep growing, so from that part, I would recommend to always keep learning. 

SBI: What are the most exciting projects you are working on this year?


Bas Schnater: I have worked on data analysis projects inside a club and it is very exciting. For example, when I was working at AZ Alkmaar, we did a cluster analysis build on the datasets available which helped to understand  additional commercial opportunities other than just ticket sales.

Unfortunately the level of data capturing by football 
clubs can still be improved. There are some exceptions, like the biggest clubs, but normally they need to be more conscious about what can they get from the data gathering and analysis because in data houses very valuable commercial opportunities.


Also, I do lot of data analytics around content in my current job which is also fascinating. You can segment a specific reader for a specific subject and market that news to him that completely matches his or her preferences. A lot of opportunities will open up to sports organizations once they start to focus on this area as well.


SBI: What advice would you give to aspiring professionals looking to break into the industry?


Do a lot of things that aren’t even asked yet. In other words, overdeliver. Do more work than has been asked for and always have side-projects. There are a lot of opportunities in the industry and especially if you are coming from a non-sport background, try to connect your currentexpertise to the sports industry to break into it.


SBI: What are your main goals for the new decade?


Bas Scnnater: I am 31 and I want to become a Head of Marketing at an international football club when I am 40. I still have nine years to work for my skill set and trying to learn something new every month, even if it is something like learning a new language, always trying to grow personally and professionally.


Also, I want to be a Head of Marketing in a football club where I can fulfill my fan-engagement-driven vision and that, paired with the support of a good team around youa good team that can help you to achieve your goals as a club and as a professional.



SBI: What did you like most and why you would recommend joining SBI's course?


Bas Schnater: First of all, what I liked the most was the networking opportunities that SBI has towards the industry and outside of the Institute.


Also, being in touch with other interesting students and with the professors.



Secondly, Diego, the SBI's Director, is always willing to connect with anyone who can help you which is also important and that is a piece of gold for someone who wants to break into the business.



Third of all, the content is really good, because it is pretty practical and you can learn from real examples from the football clubs and other sports organizations.



Finally, they are always interested in the story of the organizations they collaborate with. No matter the label of size of the club, if it is a good project they will highlight it in their course material. 



This interview was written by Ayman Dbouk from the Marketing Team at SBI Barcelona. For more information you can contact him ayman.dbouk@sbibarcelona.com 


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