May 7, 2020 at 5:10 PM by Thomas
How tall is someone in charge of increasing a club’s ticket office revenue? Let the sports season play behind closed doors! We joke, but the question is serious, Asked Mohamed Brakhlia, business developer at Paris Saint-Germain† Because his role is to boost the “match day” activity at the Parc des Princes, the evenings when Thomas Tuchel’s players perform.
By a happy coincidence, one day carpooling, he set foot on the club and from one stage to the next he became one of the 600 employees of the French football champion. In possession of an MBA 2, obtained from the Sports Management School, he explains what his job is in the service of the most powerful sports club in France and how he practices it every day in this time of confinement.
What does it mean to be a business developer at PSG?
It’s pretty simple. The idea is to find new levers, to develop the turnover of the club and in particular that of the counter. My goal is to find customers, offer them on the one hand one-time matches, which are available all season, and on the other hand to keep them through subscriptions.
What service do you depend on?
From the ticketing/hospitality department. We have two types of services. For ticketing, we focus on structures such as football clubs, associations, student offices, for the most accessible places, if not works councils. And on the hospitality side, we are targeting more companies, who will invite their customers for business. The difference here is that there is a service next to the place at the stadium.
“Providing Park accessibility for all types of people”
How do you make progress when you are 99% full?
We have, it’s true, a lot of people in the stadium. PSG is more or less the only club in the Paris region. There is not much competition in football. 99% is very good, but there are still things to improve. We are trying to further develop this mechanism, particularly with regard to the customer experience, in order to satisfy people. I mentioned earlier the students and the clubs, it is essential to make the stadium accessible to all kinds of people. They are young, they love football, it’s up to us to make them love PSG.
Your mission is not just bookkeeping dictated by quantified objectives?
No, it really is a whole. There’s definitely the filling – which is great, there are the recipes that fit. But the most important thing is to build customer loyalty, people often have to come back to the stadium. We can see this all the more today as we are in confinement and the season is over. Nevertheless, we remain in contact with our customers to first gauge whether everything is going well on their end and how they are dealing with the situation. Of the 47,000 available places in the Parc des Princes, we have 33,000 subscribers. We try to keep in touch with them.
What was your journey to get there?
I went to a business school, the Sport Management School. As a result, I got to know many people and built up my network. Then there is the reality, sport is a passion, but it is a sector that remains small and where it is not easy to find a place. To get there you have to volunteer, meet people and then opportunities arise.
And how do you get to PSG?
My story is quite funny. I am from the north of France, I have had the opportunity to carpool. On this occasion, I met someone from Paris Saint-Germain, who is in charge of temporary workers, that is, those who are only present on match nights, to welcome the spectators and lead them to the stadium. I started like this. Later I saw an internship offer to become a business developer. I was able to do my first internship at PSG, during the year of my Master 1. I came back there for the Master 2. And meanwhile I went to Lorient to see how a club works, in Ligue 2 at the time I’m there for three months stayed.
‘The average age of PSG employees is 34 years’
How is the atmosphere in the company?
I remember my first year in training, for a ball fan it was magical. Most of the employees are young, the average age is 34 years. There are not only football fans, we see a lot of people, everyone has their own way of thinking, we are quite complementary. It’s going very well. This is my third year, we are still so motivated. However, without hiding the pressure of the figure, which is quite high. It’s normal, PSG want to be one of the most important brands in the world in the world of sport. It is necessary for the employees to follow this dynamic.
Paris has the highest paid players in the French Championship. What about his other employees?
Of course it has nothing to compare with what the players earn, but we can’t complain. During this period of confinement, some of them work directly in other sectors on site, we are lucky to be able to telecommute.
Exactly, how’s the incarceration going on your side?
It’s kind of vague, we don’t really have any information from the State or the League, especially about a resumption of football in the stadiums. We are waiting for clearer guidelines.
Here and there there are rumors that next season could be played behind closed doors. Isn’t that your biggest fear?
Clear. It would be really complicated. I hope we can welcome spectators from August or September and leave as before.
For you, focused on the box office, the success of your mission also depends on that of the players in the field…
I see it in two different ways. On the one hand there is the PSG fan for whom the result will be important and if the team is in a bad period, we can feel it about him. But there are also quite a few companies out there to create business opportunities and invite customers, with less interest in the score.
“A championship title that leaves a taste of unfinished business”
Do you follow PSG matches?
I learned to love PSG. I am from the north, my team was originally Lille. But when you work for a club, you see the encounters and you start to appreciate it. We even got a little busy on match days.
This Ligue 1 title, how do you celebrate it?
It’s kinda bizarre, there’s a taste of unfinished business. It’s still good to have a new championship title. And we are waiting for UEFA’s decision on the Champions League.