Thuzio – The Ultimate Fan Experience

By Yazi Malik

Sure, you’ve gone to the games, even shelled out what was budgeted as grocery money just to get a standing room ticket to a playoff. No matter how many times you tweet at your icons or send ridiculous amounts of fan mail though, there has always been a disconnect between the fans and players. Ex-NFL player Tiki Barber has now closed the gap for fans that are willing to dole out big numbers for one-on-one time with their favorite athletes. Barber’s leap from athlete to businessman comes in the form of Thuzio, a site dedicated to connecting the die-hard fans with the legends that awe and inspire them.

Thuzio allows the average person to hire current and former athletes for a variety of experiences. You could play a round of golf with Derrick Coleman for $2,500 or have R.A. Dickey make an appearance at an event for $20,000. Those are some of the more normal requests, yet the experiences run the gamut from poker tournaments to live auctioneering; every individual on the site lists the activities they are willing to partake in and there is even a special area to request activities that aren’t listed. Thuzio doesn’t guarantee that they will be able to coerce an athlete, but they promise to do their best.

So how does it work? You can log on to Thuzio and browse the athletes by sport, or search for them directly by name. Each athlete has a picture, a short resume documenting their career highlights, a list of memorable experiences offered and a booking area. The booking area is a radial distance the athlete is willing to travel to partake in the activities (the most common areas are New York City and Miami). If you would like to hire them but live outside the area, you are looking at additional costs. Once you’ve selected the experience you want, you put in a desired date, time and place, give them your information, pay (probably the most daunting and important part) and receive a confirmation email if everything is in order. Then you sit back and nervously await meeting your idol.

At the end of the day Thuzio is better in thought than on paper. One of the cheapest experiences on the site is a 10-minute phone call that will set you back roughly $100. You might not have the funds to buy an in-person activity like karaoke with Darian Barnes, or maybe you just live on the opposite side of the country, but who really wants to pay for 10 awkward minutes of conversation when after it’s over with you don’t have anything left to show for it.

Also, out of the current 340 athletes available, only one of them indicates that they are giving away some of the money they make. Former NFL player Curtis Greer is sending all of the money he makes on event appearances and speaking gigs to his alma mater, the University of Michigan. Only 6 percent of the athletes are women and almost half of the athletes are football players. The site needs to diversify and grow their database in order to garner more customers.

Thuzio is relatively new and still in its early stages of development. Who knows, this might be the next frontier for fan-player relations. Coming from a PR student, the potential for the site is incredible but it needs some tweaking. If Barber wants to get fans to pay out he needs to make sure his athletes are offering far better experiences than a phone call or lunch date. Fans want to interact with these players on their terms and feel like the money they are spending is worth it. If anything, the site needs publicity that will make it seem more like social media and less like a cheap dating service.

 

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