Diageo is a global leader in alcoholic beverages with an outstanding collection of brands across spirits and beer. The business is built on the principles and foundations laid years before by giants of the industry – Arthur Guinness, John Walker, Elizabeth Cumming and many more.
Diageo’s products are sold in more than 180 countries and its brands include Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Captain Morgan, Baileys, Tanqueray and Guinness.
Diageo has had a longstanding association with rugby sponsorships going back to Premiership Rugby and since 2018 with Guinness Six Nations.
Diageo wanted to promote its inventory internally and give every member of staff an equal chance of using it. Due to the size of the business, it had to be easy for staff to request assets with no training. The asset requests also had to be based on a business case, so Diageo needed to make rapid decisions on whether to approve or decline them.
But the business had no system in place to manage the tickets or to handle the requests to use them. As a result, the usage of rugby tickets was much lower than Diageo wanted.
Without a corporate hospitality platform, Diageo had no easy way to capture guest details and pass these on to venues and right holders. In addition, Diageo only achieved a 30% post-event feedback capture rate. This made it hard to evaluate events to assess what business value was being generated.
A further challenge was that the sponsorship and hospitality programme created time-consuming work for Diageo’s finance teams. Annual VAT and P11D reporting had to be completed manually because of the lack of a central system.
In 2013, Diageo selected the Sponsorworks Enterprise Platform to manage its tickets and other hospitality assets. The new platform was launched within 2 weeks to 300 users across Diageo. This software gave Diageo all the features it needed off the shelf and it is still in place today.
A key reason for Diageo’s choice was the flexibility of the Sponsorworks platform. It could handle both high volume ticketing, for events like Guinness Six Nations, as well as smaller premium hospitality partnerships across sport and the arts. Different internal teams owned the hospitality, but all the assets could be managed from the same platform.
Another department to benefit was the finance team. It could now instantly create VAT and P11D tax reports because all the business case and cost data was stored centrally in the new system.
To give staff across Diageo a seamless experience, and to comply with Diageo’s Information Security policy, the platform was integrated with the Single Sign-On (SSO) system. It also ensured GDPR compliance.
The Sponsorworks team supported Diageo’s agencies to help them learn the system so they could control daily tasks such as adding events and managing approvals. Since the platform was launched, Diageo’s agencies have changed, but as Diageo owns the licence it has benefited from a consistent platform. The agencies provide first-line user support, while the Sponsorworks Helpdesk provides second-line technical support.
Diageo now manages up to 15,000 tickets a year through the Sponsorworks platform. It has succeeded in improving its ticket utilisation rate to over 97%.
Diageo runs a leaner operation since using the platform. It no longer needs to increase its headcount for major hospitality events due to the level of automation. Guinness Six Nations is the business’s busiest time of year for corporate hospitality. However, Diageo can now handle these events with its normal levels of staff.
Annual tax reporting used to take 2 weeks for the finance team to complete because of a lack of automation. These reports are now produced at the click of a button which means the team can focus on more strategic issues.
Automation has delivered many other benefits to Diageo. There have been time savings across the business as the many manual emails per request are no longer necessary. Informational content provided on the platform has also helped eliminate over 70% of email queries. The post-event feedback capture rate has accelerated to over 95%. While business users rate the ease of use of the platform as 4.7 out of 5.
In the future, Diageo is looking to further harness the platform for better measurement of its sponsorship and hospitality activity. With the outcome data it now captures, Diageo can make better decisions about the future of its portfolio.