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Sharing Best Practices: Wells Fargo’s Approach to Sponsorship & Hospitality Management

Last week’s TicketManager All Access Round Table featured two experienced speakers from Wells Fargo’s Sponsorship Governance & Operations group, which is responsible for sponsorship policy governance, as well as for hospitality programs.


Jason Small, Vice President, Sponsorship Governance & Operations, and Jeff Herman, Assistant Vice President, Sponsorship Operations addressed a laundry list of topics and answered key questions from the online audience.


Below are some of the takeaways from the insightful discussion:


1. The Sponsorship Governance & Operations Group oversees multiple aspects of Wells Fargo’s sponsorship program, including:


  • Sponsorship intake for the enterprise, including reviewing opportunities for reputational risk and ensuring they meet established criteria.

  • Contract process to embed efficiencies in sponsorship agreements.

  • Ticket management for hospitality assets in sponsorship agreements, as well as for “pure” hospitality agreements (ticket purchases without additional sponsorship benefits). Wells Fargo has sponsorships with 21 properties and “pure” hospitality at another 300 venues for a total of between 100,000 and 125,000 tickets in a non-pandemic year.

  • Hospitality and sponsorship measurement reporting to address ROI, support contract negotiations and build a business case for new opportunities.

  • Consulting with the company’s lines of business on local opportunities, including providing roadmaps for how they can adhere to Wells Fargo’s sponsorship and gifts and entertainment policies.

The latter policy is what gives teeth to the ticket management system for Wells Fargo, which has more than 500 ticket administrators. Sponsorship Governance & Operations holds quarterly ticket administrator calls to provide updates and answer questions. It uses critical communications sparingly due to the considerable number of messages that the company’s employees receive from many different areas.


In addition to using TicketManager resources to train ticket administrators, the group has developed a training module on ticket management for requesters and also annually reviews the customer service log from TicketManager to assess and respond to issues ticket administrators are raising.


2. Pre-pandemic Wells Fargo’s inventory was 90 percent physical tickets and now it is 90 percent digital.


3. Wells Fargo does an ROI analysis on every ticket that is given to a client or prospect, or is used for another business purpose. It conducts the analysis twice a year to allow for account balances and the business to mature and allow for a greater understanding of the impact. Overall, the analysis shows that for every dollar spent on a ticket, Wells Fargo makes “well more than a dollar back.” Given that, the company will be investing more in hospitality in the future.


4. The initial purpose of the sponsorship governance team was to determine ROI to justify the business case for partnerships. Ultimately, the company’s compliance and HR departments recognized the value and the group’s role evolved into policy development, in partnership with the gifts and entertainment team, and oversight. For companies that are considering or just starting to implement sponsorship policies and guidelines, Jason offered three things to keep in mind:


  • Accept that it will take longer than you like.

  • Find cheerleaders. At Wells Fargo, those were people on the HR, compliance and finance teams who were stakeholders that had skin in the game in this function being successful.

  • The policy must be mandatory to be successful


5. Wells Fargo HR does not permit tickets to be used as part of formal employee recognition. They may be used for an informal “thank you” for an employee, limited to once a year, with dollar value and number of tickets also limited. (The company also grosses up the employee’s paycheck to cover the income tax owed on the benefit.) This policy ensures that the vast majority of tickets are used for business-building purposes and to deliver ROI.


6. When streamlining a large amount of data into usable insights that are accessible to people without an analytics background, Jeff advised to think audience first, i.e., understanding who is asking for the data and what their intending to learn or take away from it. For example, a compliance team likely needs dashboards that are easy to act upon, whereas C-level executives don’t typically want to see row-by-row data and don’t need access to the dashboard; they probably want clear graphics and the most important numbers summarized in a PowerPoint. “You have to be a storyteller.”

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