Sport Management Students Participate as "Secret Shoppers" During the Houston Texans Games

Sport Management Students Participate as "Secret Shoppers" During the Houston Texans Games

Sport Management students

Sport Management students enrolled in the Event Management & Customer Service class are gaining first-hand experience with event operations by acting as “secret shoppers” during the Houston Texans’ home games at NRG stadium.

The Department of Sport Management teaches not only through traditional lecture, but also through real-world experience. The “secret shoppers” program is a new addition to the Event Management class taught by faculty member Diane Crossey. Crossey is in her first year as a full-time Lecturer in the Department of Sport Management and she wanted to use her background with the Texans to provide her students with real-world experience.

“When I was the Senior Director of Event Operations and Guest Services for the Texans, I oversaw this program as part of my former duties,” Crossey said. “This year with my transition to Rice, the Texans agreed to allow our students to fulfill these role. It's beneficial to the class as we discuss various aspects of event operations and then they have the opportunity to see it come to life in a real-world application.”

Since their establishment as an organization, the Texans have provided tickets and parking passes to third-party individuals to analyze game day experience. These “secret shoppers” are trained to go through game day as a regular fan documenting their interaction with staff members, the perceived cleanliness of the facility, the entertainment during pre-game and half time, and the fan behavior. The Texans take this analysis and use it to identify and improve upon issue affecting fan experience.

Crossey uses 10 Rice student per game as secret shoppers and Trey Martin ’17 was one of the students who has participated. After completing his duties, Martin and others were able to watch the Texans game from the sideline.

“It was exciting and the greatest fan experience I’ve ever had, Martin said. "The secret shopper program relayed the message that if you have an outstanding game day experience you’re likely to go back.”

Blake Fox ’16 also participated as a secret shopper and enjoyed gaining new insight during the hands on experience.

“This program enhanced my class experience because it made me concentrate on things that I normally wouldn't at a game,” said Fox. “It made me appreciate the employees who did a great job and made me cringe at those who were blatantly doing a poor job.”

Kimberly Vaio, a senior from San Antonio, Texas, is double majoring in Sport Management and Psychology.