Tag Archives: sports

Claudia Di Gino, Novotel Miami Brickell Hotel, Miami Sports Travel

Rick is joined on “Tech of Sports” this week by the GM of the Novotel Miami Brickell Hotel, Claudia Di Gino.

Claudia is leading the charge as the Novotel Miami Brickell has reopened its doors—and heart—to guests and visitors with rooms starting at great rates. A Trip Advisor Travelers’ Choice 2020 winner, the hotel is nestled in the heart of Miami’s bustling Brickell neighborhood, within walking distance of many of the city’s top dining and shopping attractions.

As Claudia tells Rick, the Novotel Miami Brickell’s location is perfect for not only business and leisure travelers, but also those in Miami for watching and playing sports. Venues for the Heat, Marlins and many of the other great sporting events in Miami are nearby.

But in this day, safety is priority and the Novotel leads the way.

“The hotel’s top priority remains the safety, care and wellbeing of our Novotel Miami Brickell family. Welcoming, safeguarding and taking care of others is at the very heart of what we do and who we are,” said Di Gino, Novotel Miami Brickell. “Today, this means keeping our guests and employees safe by preventing the spread of COVID-19 – partnering with top experts to implement new standards of safety and enhanced operational protocols and procedures which are among the most stringent in the hospitality industry.”

The new operational standards being implemented at Novotel Miami Brickell and at Accor properties across North & Central America were developed and vetted by a team of expert advisors to ensure maximum efficacy in preventing the spread of all viruses and pathogens, including COVID-19, with oversight by Bureau Veritas, a world leader in testing, inspections and certification; Dr. Amesh Adalja, Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security & fellow with the Infectious Diseases Society of America; and Ruth Petran, Ph.D., CFS, Senior Corporate Scientist, Food Safety and Public Health, for Ecolab, global leaders in cleaning and hygiene, and trusted advisors to the CDC. At each touchpoint along the guest journey through Novotel Miami Brickell, extensive measures are being taken to protect guests and employees, including physical distancing; mandatory screening for all guests and employees, which may include a temperature check; face coverings mandated for all employees and guests in all indoor public spaces; 48 hour “resting period” for soft goods (i.e. pillows & duvets) between guest stays; increased frequency of cleaning & disinfecting, with a focus on high-touch points; and continued use of EPA registered disinfecting chemicals, proven effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19. Hands-on training for all employees, a dedicated on-property rollout committee and a formal audit program, validated under the global ALLSAFE Cleanliness label, ensure initial and continued compliance.

“As we welcome our friends, family and community back to Novotel Miami Brickell, please be assured that we are looking ahead, through and past the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure that our valued guests and employees will always be looked after with the highest degree of safety, care and comfort.”

Safety, a great property and sports travel. In a great Miami neighborhood. Fun talking with Claudia.


Marc Becker, Sales and Marketing Director at Higgins Hotel, New Orleans

Sports travel is an important part of the economy in the great city of New Orleans. Rick talks about that and more with Marc Becker, Sales and Marketing Director at the Higgins Hotel and Conference Center in Downtown New Orleans.

The highly acclaimed Higgins Hotel New Orleans, Curio Collection by Hilton, rated #1 on TripAdvisor of 177 hotels in New Orleans, has announced its “Park and Stay” package for the fall travel season.

Ideally located in the heart of the city’s vibrant Arts & Warehouse District featuring more than 25 art galleries, a variety of museums, and visionary chefs, the hotel is conveniently situated across the street from The National WWII Museum, TripAdvisor’s top-rated tourist destination in New Orleans and #2 in the U.S. Recognized as the “Official Hotel of The National WWII Museum,” The Higgins opened in early 2020 with a conference center, exceptional dining options and a distinct 1940s theme.

The Higgins is a Curio branded hotel by Hilton that provides experiences for the curious traveler. Some are well known. Some are local legends. But each hotel in the Curio Collection is a masterpiece that reflects the best of its surroundings. Best of all, Hilton Honors points are awarded for each eligible stay.
With New Orleans moving into Phase III of its “open for business” protocol, travelers are again able to enjoy all that makes vacationing in this historic destination so appealing. Plus, the Higgins’ fall season “Park & Stay” travel offer provides guests with an easy to book room rate inclusive of parking at the hotel’s adjacent garage. The attractive rate makes a simple combo buy for those arriving by car and saves guests upwards of $39 in parking fees common to downtown hotels in the city.

To book the offer, visit higginshotelnola.com, and in the reservation window use the booking code RPPSG1 or click on “Park & Stay” when making the reservation. Rates as low as $119 can be found through September.

The Higgins Hotel has remained open throughout the COVID pandemic, proudly welcoming guests and first responders alike with specific safety protocols for more intense sanitizing actions and the personalized services a Curio branded hotel is known for. From a nostalgic hotel experience sure to intrigue and delight, to dining and entertainment options at your fingertips, the Higgins Hotel represents home away from home, including guest rooms that offer striking 1940’s style décor.

The most popular dining option is the hotel’s Rosie’s on the Roof Restaurant, offering outside deck seating, with penthouse-style views out over the city skyline and of the new Canopy of Peace at the adjacent National WWII Museum. Service is also Covid centric, with no-touch ordering and socially spaced dining.
The Higgins recently instituted the Hilton “CleanStay” program, where guests are offered no-touch check in, no-visit hotel room stays, and a rigorous daily cleaning of all public areas and touchpoints within each guestroom. The Hilton CleanStay program provides a standard list of new cleaning protocols and products, anchored by brand leader Lysol.

Also for foodies, the Higgins is introducing a special dining opportunity with French Chef Virgile Brandel of Higgins Hotels Café Normandie and Rosie’s on the Roof. The Suite Dining with a French Chef experience will allow guests to enjoy a carefully curated gourmet meal in a Presidential Suite on the penthouse level of the Higgins Hotel featuring views of downtown New Orleans. Imagine taking in the amazing views of this historic destination while enjoying some of the finest cuisine found in the Big Easy.

Guests can also choose to enjoy the Higgins Hotel Fish & Dine option, where you can bring the fresh catch from your charter fishing excursions, and Chef Virgile Brandel will prepare it for your dining delight – broiled, sautéed, or fried, with added sides, salad and desert for up to 10 guests. Didn’t catch enough fish? No worries. Chef Brandel will supplement your catch while you savor cocktails at Rosie’s on the Roof, Higgins Hotel’s view bar. Then, enjoy your dinner with friends casually served in a semi-private socially distanced environment of Café Normandie.

With New Orleans moving into Phase III of its “open for business” protocol, travelers are again able to enjoy all that makes vacationing in this historic destination so appealing. To find out more about the Suite Dining or Fish & Dine options, visit www.higginshotelnola.com/new-orleans-restaurants.

Chris Madden, Co-Founder of Matchnode

Rick talks with Chris Madden of Matchnode this week on “Tech of Sports.”

Sports and paid social media go together like peanut butter and jelly.

But it’s a tricky mix.

Matchnode is a digital marketing agency that specializes in paid social advertising. Through his agency Chris has worked on digital ad campaigns for Chicago sports franchises like the Bulls and Blackhawks, helping drive their digital strategy and increase ticket and merchandise sales.

Chris is always a wealth of insight on all things social media marketing, but throughout his recent marketing work for the Bulls he’s become a true force of knowledge on the future of digital strategy in sports (and he’s set on paving the new digital way forward for pro sports franchises.)

Chris has appeared on shows like Business Innovators Radio and Hollywood Branded where he voiced his expertise on social media ad campaigns and improving digital strategy. He’s a personable guy a big sports fan and gives his take on the current situation in sports during a pandemic.

Madden is Co-Founder of Matchnode, which specializes in paid social to drive revenue for brands via strategy, traffic, and optimization. Clients include the Chicago Bulls, Chicago Blackhawks, Indiana University, and LendingTree. A seasoned entrepreneur and sales executive with a deep knowledge of digital marketing as it relates to sports.

Great to talk with Chris and hope to catch up with him soon.


Dyamond Doll, Miami Rapper, Releases Anthem Single “Dwade”, Paying Tribute to Dwyane Wade

Rick talks to Miami Rap Artist, Dyamond Doll, this week on “Tech of Sports”.

Dyamond Doll is beating all odds and taking the Miami music scene by storm during lockdown. The Miami Cuban-African-American native has been writing, rapping and singing since the age of 14. Now at 27-years-old and under Dark Boys Records’ wing, she’s reached over a million views after releasing her first uplifting anthem single “Dwade” featuring Miami legend Trina this past March. A homage to the city of Miami and to Dwyane Wade, Wade took personally to his Instagram and gave his stamp of approval by jamming out to the track, not to mention personally reaching out and congratulating Dyamond for her hot single and future success.

Now, taking it to the next level, her first EP “Dyamond In The Rough” was released on August 14. The EP contains 7 tracks, including features with Jackboy, R&B sensation DaniLeigh and veteran Canadian rapper, Tory Lanez.

Dyamond talks about her new release, her love of basketball and how it all started.

Ryan Gellis, Founding Partner, RMG Talks the Future of Sports Retail

Ryan Gellis joins Rick this week. He is founding partner of RMG Media.

Ryan founded RMG to help brands make genuine connections with their customers. He has a background in technology and over 10 years experience in ecommerce strategy and management. The list of companies he has worked with include industry titans like Charming Charlie, Sally Beauty, and Verizon. When not leading RMG, Ryan enjoys playing music, gaming, and starting (but not finishing) construction projects at home.

With e-commerce sales up 30 percent in the Covid marketplace, business prognosticators have been adamant about the death of brick and mortar, with online channels predicted to become the dominant business model. However, the situation is more nuanced than presented by market analyst doomsayers. For instance, a recent article by Square noted how, despite a recent survey showing that 51 percent of Americans say they prefer shopping online, only 10 percent of the estimated $3.3 trillion in annual retail sales last year came from online transactions.

Rick and Ryan talk about the current state of sports ecommerce and where it is heading.

Gellis has worked as a veteran craftsman of retail strategies and brand experiences for over a decade. He can tell you that those calling for the death of retail are off the mark in their analysis.

Clothes, watches, jewelry and other luxury goods will remain in physical retail, as that customer base wants to be able to handle and try products on–and this experience cannot be replicated online. The gentrification of urban areas has led to a preference for mixed use spaces that combine commercial spaces with residential. Malls will adopt this model to adapt to modern times.

Customers often browse and research online before going to stores, and thought leaders in the industry will be looking to smartphone apps and other digital solutions to augment and enhance the retail experience.

Sports is wild animal and without fans for the most part in 2020, an evolution is taking place.


Bob Venero, Future Tech CEO on eSports

While traditional sports have come to a screeching halt amid the pandemic, eSports has become a welcome alternative for millions of sports fanatics.

Reports estimate that eSports will grow to a $1.1 billion industry this year. And in light of the pandemic, it may be on track to surpass this figure.

Many schools like colleges and high schools are now taking a harder look at eSports as well.

According to the National Association of Collegiate Esports, more than 170 U.S. colleges have varsity eSports programs and are offering around $16 million per year in scholarships. College eSports tournament organizer Tespa notes that its competitions attract more than 1,350 schools and more than 40,000 players. It has also awarded more than $3 million in tournament winnings. It’s a trend that has been growing for years.

With no guarantee that schools will reopen in September, how can eSports be a viable replacement for traditional sports?

Future Tech Enterprise CEO Bob Venero talks with Rick this week about trends he sees emerging that will change eSports and school sports forever, new safety measures that institutions can implement to keep students safe (e.g. sanitizing practices, etc.), how eSports can be a cheaper option as schools seek to cut sports budgets (e.g. eliminating home/away game travel costs, etc.), as well as security concerns and best practices.

Bob also discusses the social benefits of eSports for students, namely how it encourages diversity, inclusion and education.