Ex-Sports Marketer Gets Into 'Once in a Lifetime' Adventure Business
The start of a new year is also a time when people renew
efforts to fulfill their hopes, dreams and goals. Goviva—a company dealing in "unique
experiences" and its president, Robert Tuchman, want to help make those
efforts more of a reality.
And these are not just your average get a better job/meet my
ideal mate/stop my dog from chewing up the couch visions. We're talking about a
VIP trip to Maui to attend a celebrity-filled film festival. A meal served in
the home of, and cooked by, world-renowned chef Rick Bayless. A one-on-one
gymnastics clinic with Olympic gold medalist Kerri Strug. And top-shelf
experiences at the Super Bowl, the Masters, the Final Four, the World Cup and
other sports events.
The plethora of adventures offered by the company range in
price from hundreds to thousands, depending on the package. Among the
adventures currently up for grabs: the ESPY Awards (July 11-14) in Los Angeles,
the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (Nov. 27-Dec. 1) in New York, a Masters and
Final Four combo (April 5-9) in Atlanta, the FIFA World Cup (June-July 2014) in
Brazil and the Maui Film Festival (June 12-16) in Hawaii.
Goviva also provides an on-site concierge or Goviva team
members to ensure maximum satisfaction and minimum stress.
Formerly known as Elite Experiences, Goviva.com relaunched
in October under the auspices of Tuchman, who has nearly 20 years of experience
in sports marketing and business, hospitality and event sponsorships.
Tuchman recently talked about the challenges and
rewards of not only being "the king of dreams," but also about the
outlook for sports marketing in 2013.
How and why did Goviva come to be?
Back when we had TSE Sports & Entertainment, we were working with a lot of
these companies, mainly on a B-2-B situation. When I started doing this 15
years ago, it was a new and exciting category, where people and companies could
actually purchase trips to go to events such as the Super Bowl, the Masters,
the Final Four. People are still excited about doing these things. The packages
and perks you can purchase now are a far cry from what was available 15 years
ago. We also realized that not only were corporations interested, but there are
more individuals who want to purchase these packages.
Was there a specific time when this became more of an
individual acquisition rather than one in which corporations would use it
mainly to meet with clients in a casual setting?
I think after 9/11, a lot of people began to rethink what was important in life
and began to act on their passions and desires rather than just thinking about
doing them and not acting. We saw we could cater to this, and not just in
sports with the Super Bowl or traveling to see the FIFA World Cup, but
in fashion, lifestyles, with culinary experiences. Ten years ago, no one would
think it was cool to hang out with a chef. Now, with the expansion of that
category on TV and elsewhere, it has become a great adventure for more people.
So with Goviva, you can have a unique experience with great chefs such as Rick
Bayless, Ray Lampe, Tre Wilcox or Maria Liberati. Or have an artistic
experience with Peter Max. Or go to the Maui Film Festival.
How would you differentiate Goviva from what people
can get through a travel agent?
We are really an experiential event company. It is a whole new area of selling
experiential packages. We have a terrific team of people at Goviva who over the
past two decades [at Elite Experiences] worked to create and execute
experiences for people. We decided to take the very best experiences in the
world and offer them on Goviva.com. Rather than just getting someone to Miami
to see the BCS National Game, for example, our package included a private car
from the airport to the [Bentley South Beach] hotel, a personal Goviva
concierge team to enhance the experience, first-class meals and, of course, a
ticket to Sun Life Stadium. For Super Bowl XLVII, it is not just a trip to New
Orleans and a ticket to [Mercedes-Benz Superdome], but an up-close experience
that includes the private Maxim party, great accommodations [at The
Quarter House] in the French Quarter and other personal amenities that make it
Have you considered a reality TV show about people who
get to live out their ultimate dreams?
It's funny you should say that. We actually were approached by a production
company to put a show together, something along the lines of Dream Kings, where we would help people
to experience dreams they thought they could not fulfill. But we are doing
that. We are helping people cross items off of their bucket list.
Can you adapt experiential adventures depending on how
much someone want to spend?
Yes. We can customize each package, but there would be no package that wouldn't
be unique and more exciting than anything else out there.
Was this bucket list of adventures based on the book
you wrote, 100 Sports Events You Must See Live?
The book is filled with great sports events. But, as I mentioned, we also have
culinary events, fashion, lifestyle. One of our packages is training with
[marathon runner] Meb Keflezighi, and another is having a personal clinic with
[Olympic gold medal gymnast] Kerri Strug, which are not events but more
personal challenges. So this is much more than going to a great event, but also
fulfilling personal goals.
Are you finding destinations, athletes and other
celebrities are contacting you to be part of Goviva?
We are, especially former athletes who have expertise that they want to share
and teach. We have a lot of contacts in that area. But we are finding more
athletes, chefs, musicians and others who have experience in one-on-one
sessions who can and want to really share their knowledge. We want these
experiential experiences to be memorable, and I would have to say that we have
a special group of athletes, chefs, musicians and other celebrities who are
really good at making that happen.
Have you attracted a specific demographic, say baby
boomers with time and disposable cash, or is it more cross-generational?
There are a lot of baby boomers, but I would say we are getting people from all
demographics. Baby boomers are looking for ageless experiences, they have the
cash, they are living longer. But the younger generations, say people in their
late 20s or in their 30s, want to take these ultimate experiential adventures
before they have the responsibility of kids, owning a home, those sorts of
things. We actually are still learning about our demographics.
Has the recent economic situation affected Goviva?
It certainly is not like it was in 2006, but it is a better time for the
country and the economy than it has been. But we are seeing that more people
and more companies are able to do this now as opposed to recent years because
the economy is rebounding and getting stronger.
In your book, you list as the top events to see
live—in order—the Masters, FIFA World Cup, Super Bowl and the Summer Olympics.
Are those still holding strong?
Yes. Those will always be at the top, perhaps in a different order. Super Bowl
XLVIII will be in the New York area [at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.]
in 2014, so we see that probably becoming one of the hottest sports destinations
of the year. It may be the most-requested Super Bowl [package] ever. The Final
Four [NCAA Division I men's basketball] is always very popular. But we are
seeing some new events that weren't in the book: the Circuit of the
America race in Austin in November has become very popular. The NHL
Winter Classic was very popular the past couple of years but, of course, wasn't
held [Jan. 1] due to the lockout. So we'll have to see how popular that is next
season. On the other hand, something such as the UFC hasn't become a popular
destination, at least in the corporate world, certainly not to the level that
we had anticipated.
Where do you see growth coming for experiential
The new format for the BCS will make the Bowl games that are part of the system
even more popular. And the culinary category has become extremely popular but
still has a lot of potential for growth. There are so many types of cooking and
more people who are becoming interested in specific types of food, be it for
health or because of the uniqueness of international cooking. We can get people
not just to restaurants in their own city or elsewhere in the U.S., but many
places around the world. They can have the greatest French food adventure right
in Paris. The best Thai food right in Thailand.
Looking a little bit ahead, are you getting a lot of
interest in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil, where the 2014 FIFA World Cup and
the 2016 Summer
Olympics will be held?
Definitely. Brazil could be our biggest destination in the coming years. We
sold a lot of packages and sent a lot of people to London for the 2012 Summer
Olympics. But Brazil is already on so many bucket lists with its beaches, food,
great location from the U.S. So adding the World Cup and Olympics to that mix
should see a lot of people asking us for packages.
Based on your knowledge and experience, is sports
marketing still a strong category? And where do you see growth coming?
If you want to get out a message, and it's done properly and through the
various outlets available, it is a very strong category. When you look at
events such as the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500, companies still target those TV
broadcasts as great places to launch messages and commercials. The Super Bowl
TV audience this past February averaged 111 million. That is tremendous. But
the companies that do it best use everything to their advantage, especially as
we have seen more and more in the area of social media. You can go for a mass audience
on TV, but you can reach a strong, targeted audience, even though it may be
smaller, through Facebook or Twitter and other social media outlets.
Are you seeing Goviva as a long-term, growing
operation, sort of an experiential adventure for you?
Certainly. I'm thinking big and global on this. Quality. High-value. We see
this as having the potential to become a global brand. It really is exciting
for me and I want to enjoy this for a long time. I believe we are at the
forefront of it. It certainly is expanding and we certainly are not only paving
new ground, but continually raising the standard of what these experiential
packages should include.
This Q&A was reprinted with permission from