Case studies

Guest experience management for speedway events

International Speedway Corporation (ISC) client spotlight

With competition for the entertainment dollar at an all-time high, ISC works with LRA by Deloitte to measure the NASCAR race fan experience with a comprehensive post-race survey so as to ensure that fans come back for the next race, tell their friends... and the bleachers remain filled. LRA by Deloitte deploys its proprietary “Emotional Connection Model” for ISC, which has allowed ISC to better understand the drivers of ticket renewal... and provide patrons the experiences that matter.

Two million fans reimagine the fan experience

ISC is the largest owner of major motorsports-themed entertainment facilities in the United States. Its holdings include racing icons, such as Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, where NASCAR contenders exceed speeds of 190 mph. Eleven other major holdings bring the organization to a total of approximately 831,500 grandstand seats and more than 500 suites.

ISC’s guests take in the country’s fastest, most thrilling races—over 100 stock car, open wheel, sports car, truck, and motorcycle events, including all three of NASCAR’s National Series events.

Passion for the sport is evident at every level of ISC. It is seen in leaders who have tirelessly promoted and developed racing since Bill France Sr. founded the company in 1953, and in the fans who show their support by embracing corporate sponsors and volunteering at events.

Responding to the recession with innovation

In 2008, when ISC approached LRA by Deloitte, the US recession had impacted the entire sports and entertainment sector including ISC’s fan base. Tightened wallets did not allow for as much spending on leisure activities. TIME Magazine reported that the NBA had laid off nine percent of its workforce, while the average price for World Series tickets dropped by 50 percent.

Among a number of brand-building initiatives, ISC engaged LRA by Deloitte to help address this situation. How could ISC generate repeat ticket purchases more reliably? What specific actions could create memorable, innovative, and consistent guest experiences, which could have the magnetism to bring those new fans back to the track? To strengthen and build its base, ISC needed to identify, then adapt to the changing requirements of its potential fans.

Loyalty research identifies what guests want in sports and entertainment

As the leading global provider of customer experience measurement, LRA by Deloitte has seen how the qualitative improvement of guest experiences increases the likelihood of return visits, share of wallet, and overall profitability. Through a better understanding of guest experience, ISC could make data-driven changes to improve that experience and reach the company’s goals.

To capture this data, LRA by Deloitte’s research group disseminated guest surveys following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at each ISC track. These events not only serve ISC’s core customers, they also present the largest opportunities for ISC to secure new fans and increase its fan base. Improving the guest experience for each venue, while accounting for the major event(s) at that track, we reasoned, could result in an effective overall outcome for our client. ISC branded the program Guest Experience Measurement (GEM), and it swiftly became a part of the organization’s operational culture.

GEM accelerates improvements to the customer experience

LRA by Deloitte analyzes the data from the completed GEM surveys following 19 core events on an annual basis. Utilizing LRA by Deloitte’s Emotional Connection Model (ECM) for loyalty to understand which fans are emotionally connected to the track, how each ISC track connects with its fans, and what specific actions the company can take to improve emotional connections, as ECM has been tested to be the leading, reliable predictor of fan ticket purchasing behavior at ISC tracks.

We provide ongoing direction to each track operator regarding priority “touch points,” or areas that are highly correlated with the achievement of ISC’s goals. We also monitor the racing industry as a whole for changes in customer perception.


  • GEM model elevates Daytona 500, NASCAR, and a dozen of ISC’s other brands by accelerating improvements to guest experiences
  • Qualitative improvement of guest experiences increases rate of return visits, customer spend, share of wallet, and overall profitability in a recessed economy
  • President of Michigan International Speedway recognized for use of GEM data to reimagine guest experience


The reimagining of guest experience continues—through renovations, data-driven customer service changes, and special programs that boost priority metrics, such as first-time race attendees. The focus on guest experience permeates the organization in a variety of ways—the President of Michigan International Speedway was recognized by 1 to 1 Magazine as a Customer Champion in part due to his use of GEM data, and ISC is currently reimagining the guest experience at its iconic Daytona International Speedway with the $400 million DAYTONA Rising project and by pursuing a mixed-use entertainment destination across the street called ONE DAYTONA. In his Annual Report to Investors in 2013, President John Saunders wrote, “We are confident that elevating the guest experience at the most iconic motorsports facility in North America will take the DAYTONA 500 brand to a whole new level, not to mention the impact on our 12 other major motorsports facilities’ brands and NASCAR’s brand.”

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We are confident that elevating the guest experience at the most iconic motorsports facility in North America will take the DAYTONA 500 brand to a whole new level, not to mention the impact on our 12 other major motorsports facilities’ brands and NASCAR’s brand.

—John Saunders, president, ISC

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