Lee Davy sits down with the Kindred Group’s Head of Events & Sponsorship, Nataly Sopacuaperu, to talk about the European Open, what makes the Unibet Open such a beloved brand, and much more.
Sometimes it’s better to watch from the sidelines as the giants beat the crap out of each other, and then when nostrils start to flare, legs wobble, and lungs can’t sing anymore, climb into the ring and finish off the job.
Unibet Open is watching.
Unibet Open is learning.
Unibet Open’s punch is getting stronger, and I sat down with Nataly Sopacuaperu to find out why.
Who is Nataly Sopacuaperu?
“I am Nataly Sopacuaperu and work as the Head of Events & Sponsorship at Kindred Group (previously Unibet Group). I started out as Account Manager at Unibet in 2009 but moved into events in 2013. Before working at Unibet, I knew very little about poker but the Unibet Open Algarve 2009 was such an amazing experience, I decided that I wanted to understand the poker game and learn more about the industry. What struck me the most was the passion for the game of all the players, staff and media – I would say that it was extremely contagious. I just wanted to be part of it, from that point onwards there was no way back.”
Why send 200 players to Las Vegas after a decade serving the European market? Why is now the time to do this?
“The Wynn Poker room is hosting the Wynn Classics in September, and the European Open will be part of this event. We are celebrating our 10th anniversary this year which is a huge achievement if you take into account the live poker industry over the years. A lot of tours have stopped, new ones have come in, and existing ones are trying to re-invent themselves. The competition is tough, so there’s, even more reason to celebrate this milestone with our players and give them the ultimate players’ experience. In this way, we can thank the usual suspects for their loyalty and new ones for making the jump to join us. Some players have been, some haven’t been to Las Vegas. However, we can sense a lot of excitement after the announcement this week. Eventually, it is all about them, without them our live events wouldn’t exist, so we wanted to make a grand gesture. We are happy that the players will get the best of the best at the Wynn Poker Room.”
When organising a Unibet Open who is it for? Why will they care? What do the people you want to serve want? What do they believe?
“The Unibet Open stands for fun, good quality, great service and is accessible for everyone who wants to play poker. We have always had a changing mix at the tables varying from online qualifiers, celebrities, ambassadors, ex-football players, to poker legends like Viktor Blom and e-sporters. We have always focused on the fun side of the event and creating a great atmosphere and a great experience, but we also make sure that the conditions are to our standards, which is extremely challenging if you visit different locations all the time. For players, it is important that everything is easy and accessible so they can focus on the game and have fun at the tables and when they are out of the game.”
What will they say to their friends after they have attended a Unibet Open?
“We have great examples of players coming first by themselves and then slowly bringing the whole group of friends, and we have also witnessed a lot of friendships beginning at our events and which are still existing. We create this laid back atmosphere, and good things are coming out of it, the pressure is only on the game. That is the arena where the players all compete, but outside of that, those are we want the players to relax and not worry.”
How can you add more value?
“After each event, we send out surveys to the players and our NPS score is on average extremely high (50), this measures the willingness of customers to recommend – in this case – Unibet Open to others. Players leave comments as well regarding how happy or unhappy they are about all kind of aspects. We do our best to accommodate all these wishes, and we are still eager to learn from this feedback. The compliments are encouraging, and the points for improvements are for us the secret to staying ahead of our own game and our competitors.”
What makes you different?
“I leave that to the players. Here is what they have to say that about us taken from our surveys:
“Very friendly event with lots of social events organized to take away the pain out of being knocked out. Met lots of new friends and the staff always went out of their way to make you feel welcome and enjoy your trip.”
“Great for poker fans. Nice and friendly atmosphere and people that will make you feel as you belong there.”
“That Unibet Opens are different than other tournaments, that they’re about community and a fun experience and not all about the poker, which as a player that never cashes these big live tournaments, adds to my experience as well :)’’
What are your goals for the rest of 2017?
“The European Open will be in the hands of the Wynn, but we know that they have high standards and we are happy to award the players with prize packages to this event. We think for a lot of players this will be one not to forget. The final of this year will take place in Bucharest 30 Nov – 3 December where we are planning to break last year’s record of 603 entrants. 7th of December will be the official 10th-anniversary date of Unibet Open, so in Bucharest, we want to revisit the ten years that we have been through, but we will offer something special online as well. We are also working on the 2018 schedule, so hopefully, we can announce this before Christmas.
What promises are you going to make and keep?
“The moment I took over Unibet Open in 2013, I promised to keep the Unibet-spirit high at each event, and that is the one I will continue keeping.”