NEW YORK – The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced today the creation of the Pete Winemiller Guest Experience Innovation Award, which will honor an NBA team executive who innovates to create a world class service experience for fans, inspired by the late Pete Winemiller, Senior Vice President of Guest Relations for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Winemiller, who passed away recently after a courageous battle with lymphoma, was a beloved member of the Thunder staff for more than 20 years, dating to the franchise’s days as the Seattle SuperSonics. By pioneering a comprehensive approach to guest relations, he helped set the standards for the NBA and its teams. Known as CLICK (Communicate courteously. Listen to learn. Initiate immediately. Create connections. Know your stuff.), Winemiller’s customer service program has had a major influence throughout the industry.
“Pete Winemiller viewed fans who attended Thunder games as family, which served as the cornerstone for his groundbreaking approach to the guest experience,” said Amy Brooks, NBA Executive Vice President, Team Marketing and Business Operations. “With his caring nature and attention to give fans the best possible experience, Pete made everyone at the arena feel like a guest in his house.”
Under Winemiller’s leadership, the Thunder earned several awards for guest relations, including the Gold STEVIE from American Business Awards in 2010, the Gold Award in the Customer Experience Excellence category from the Gartner & 1to1 Media CRM Excellence Awards in 2012, and the Customer Experience Innovation Award by the Customer Experience Professional Association in 2014.
Winemiller was renowned as a keynote speaker at customer service conferences around the country. A graduate of Washington State University and an alumnus of the Disney Institute in Orlando, Fla., and the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center in Chevy Chase, Md., Winemiller also served as an adjunct professor at Arizona State University and the University of Washington.
At the end of the regular season, NBA teams will have the opportunity to nominate a team executive in the field of guest relations who embodies the values that Winemiller exemplified. The recipient of the inaugural award will be announced at the NBA League Meetings in Las Vegas in July.