Californian BNP Paribas Open ups its game

Author Monica Truong-N, University of San Francisco

Posted: October 21, 2015

Nowadays, the draw of the beauty of a sport is not enough for consumers to attend costly sporting events. The event itself must be an all-encompassing affair rather than just a venue for the athletic activity. The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in California has upped their game by improving amenities and increasing the quality of their servicescape, thus increasing the value of attending the tournament for its fans.

The BNP Paribas Open has improved its delivery variables by creating a phone application to make navigating the event, both mentally and physically, easier for the consumer, whether it be getting to the grounds or navigation around the tournament itself. Delivery variables are measures that ease the participation costs of being at the tournament by “reducing queues for entrance” and “help[ing] customers with problem solving… [such as] where to park”; this results in a decrease of the “inconvenience” of attending (McCarville and Stinson, 2014, p. 56-57). The tournament app helps ease the fan’s challenge of planning their experience at such a large event by giving “driving directions to the site, locat[ing] a fan’s car, [and directing] fans to their seats” (Kaplan, 2015, p. 19). The tournament has also improved its experience variables by making it even easier to use the new app by having “high quality Wi-Fi reception” all over the tennis grounds, “allowing 25,000 downloads simultaneously on site” (Kaplan, 2015, p. 19). This makes it even more convenient for the consumer to “find whatever they seek within the sport experience” by providing access to the world’s most powerful tool – unlimited internet access (McCarville and Stinson, 2014, p. 53).

Design aspects allow consumers to have easier access to the tournament and all matches and become more involved with the on-site activations. Parking has been improved for its fans because Larry Ellison, the tournament’s owner, spent $42 million on adjacent land to expand its parking lot (Kaplan, 2015). Viewing platforms for practice courts allow fans to see their favorite players even on the days they may not be scheduled for an official match (Kaplan, 2015). Functional sub-dimensions within design factors have been the tournament’s focus in improving their servicescape. They have done so by improving “components such as layout, comfort, [and] privacy” (Hightower, 2014, p. 144). Additionally, Ellison has spent $95 million to redo Stadium Number 2 and plans on opening a Stadium Number 3 in 2017 (Kaplan, 2015). This provides more viewing opportunities and better seating for the tournament’s consumers.

The social aspect of the servicescape is essential to drawing in a crowd less focused on the sport itself and more focused on the networking possibilities within the tennis world. With high-end restaurants like Nobu popping up at Indian Wells, people feel less obligated to stay on the hot courts in order to catch the action. Rather, they can watch the matches from their tables while having a meal with friends or colleagues in one of the three full-service restaurants on site (Kaplan, 2015). Hightower argues that this aspect appeals to the factor of socializing with other “patrons in the environment,” which can affect “the way a consumer perceives the sport service firm” (2014, p. 146). In this way, the tournament will be viewed not only as a sports event, but also, as a place where business meetings can be conducted among influential people. Two fashion shows by the clothing sponsors organized specifically for the event help draw in the fashion-oriented. Kaplan argues that artistic-minded people may feel compelled to see painter Mike Sullivan’s large murals all over the tournament venue as well (2015). These groups that may not necessarily attend the event are drawn to it because of its “stimuli related to people that are present” and the opportunity to fraternize with like-minded people (Hightower, 2015, p. 145).

With all of these improvements in increasing value for not only tennis fans, but also cultured and high-end consumers, the BNP Paribas Open has been successful in increasing attendance. In March 2015, the tournament saw 456,000 attendees, “just 2 percent less than the French Open” and is on track to overtake Wimbledon and the French Open in 2016 (Kaplan, 2015, p. 19).



Hightower, R., Jr. (2014). Leveraging Sport Brands with the Servicescape. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging Brands in Sports Business (pp. 142-156). New York, NY: Routledge.

Kaplan, D. (2015, July 13). No holding back for BNP Paribas Open. SportsBusiness Journal, 18(13), 19.

McCarville, R., & Stinson, J. L. (2014). Creating Value as Part of Sport Marketing. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging Brands in Sports Business (pp. 51-65). New York, NY: Routledge.

About Monica Truong-N, University of San Francisco

Monica recently graduated UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts in International Development Studies and a minor in the German language, and is currently in the Sport Management graduate program at the University of San Francisco. While at UCLA, she worked as student manager for the Division One Men’s Tennis, Men’s Water Polo and Women’s Water Polo programs. She is currently serving as the Olympic Sports Assistant at UCLA Athletics. Her plans are continue her education through to law school and become an agent, specializing in tennis and soccer. This article is an edited version of a paper Monica prepared for Dr. Michael M. Goldman’s Sport Marketing class at the University of San Francisco.

IImage of Novak Djokovic "IMG_2594" by Marianne Bevis, Accessed via Creative Commons license.