SBJ/April 15-21, 2013/In Depth

Ticketing trends and memories

Leading up to this week’s Sports Facilities & Franchises/Ticketing Symposium in Brooklyn, we asked several panelists to tell us which trends they’re watching in ticketing, and to highlight some of their favorite ticket buying memories, whether it was their first show or another event. From dynamic pricing to U2 concerts, here are highlights of what they sent us:

Cullen Maxey

Executive VP, business operations, Arizona Diamondbacks

Trends I’m watching:
The move to paperless/digital tickets. Teams are motivated by the control and data it provides.
Panelists are keeping a close eye on paperless ticketing. The Boston Celtics offer such an option with their “Parquet Pass” card.
Photo by: Getty Images
How teams use this to generate revenue and retention remains to be seen. I will also be watching how quickly the current forms of “paperless tickets” will become obsolete, as the industry moves to utilizing smartphone technology for all of this.

My ticket memories:
While in college at Arizona State University, my friends and I wanted to buy tickets to see Garth Brooks in concert. It was at the peak of his career so tickets were in high demand. The Internet was not used by the ticket outlets yet. In fact, ticket outlets within Dillard’s department stores served as the major sales outlets. Malls throughout the state hosted lotteries where we stood in a line of thousands in a parking lot to get our lottery number. If you were lucky enough to get a low number, which I was, you were invited back the next day to line up in order and buy tickets at the Dillard’s Box Office. All in, I probably invested five to six hours into that ticket purchase.



Mike Ondrejko
Chief operating officer, Legends Sales and Marketing

Trends I’m watching:
Since 2008, the game has changed in terms of how corporations purchase hospitality and
Ondrejko’s sons have some fun at a Yankees game.
premium seating. Sellers now have to understand how to navigate several layers of the corporate matrix to make a sale. Our challenge is changing our process and training our people so they can quickly recognize decision-makers, influencers and roadblocks.

My ticket memories:
As a kid I have fond memories of going to Syracuse games and the Big East Tournament with my dad and brother. As my own kids are starting to grow up, I love reliving the memories through them. Being fortunate enough to have great friends in the industry, my kids might have a different perspective, but regardless of the seats, to me it’s about spending the time to build the memories that live on.



Adam Kanner
Chief executive officer, ScoreBig

Trends I’m watching:
The increasing sophistication around ticket distribution and pricing. The days of exclusive distribution are quickly disappearing and a new framework is emerging featuring third-party distribution channels and analytics expertise to help fill seats, optimize prices and reach new audiences. As many organizations face the ups and downs of team performance across seasons, teams need to utilize as many options as possible to fill seats and maximize yield, but do so in a manner that also protects their brand and their full-price ticket strategy.

My ticket memories:
ZZ Top (Eliminator Tour) at the Worcester Centrum. “She’s got legs and she knows how to use them …”



Steve Fanelli
Executive director, ticket sales and operations, Oakland A’s

Trends I’m watching:
Data capture and analysis, mobile growth, and the continued adoption of digital ticketing. The
Fanelli (right) is shown with his brothers at a Phillies game.
complete customer cycle from pre-purchase to in-game activation, and ultimately long-term retention, rely on our ability to deliver the right product through the preferred channel. As an industry, we have the data to create customized offerings that support long-term customer development. With the continued growth of mobile, we also have the platform to enhance the in-game experience.

My ticket memories:
From Billy Joel’s last concert at Shea to the Stones here in Oakland, I think I’ve seen almost everything. While I can’t pinpoint one event that stands out, I look back on when I was a kid going to Phillies games at the Vet as the major reason I work in the industry. That time spent with family on random summer days are the type of
memories I hope our fans are creating each time they come to the ballpark.



Leigh Castergine
VP, ticket sales and services, New York Mets

Trends I’m watching:
Flexible season-ticket packages/membership packages that offer season-ticket holder experiences and benefits but with the flexibility of exchanging or using games only as needed. (Also) primary and secondary tickets being sold side-by-side, i.e. NBA model. When I first got in this business, I was selling tickets based on price and location. Now ... I teach my teams that we have to sell based on value and benefits. With easier access to better inventory and the easy reselling of tickets, we need to continue to push to find ways that show value to our clients and give them experiences and benefits that they can’t get by buying individual tickets or on the secondary market.

My ticket memories:
While I was at UPenn, my friends and I wanted to see U2. There were six of us and we all planned on calling Ticketmaster as well as trying online. Tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. We knew it was going to be a tough ticket to get so I knew that I had to be creative. I started calling Ticketmaster numbers in Florida because the Philadelphia and New Jersey numbers were busy even an hour before they went on sale. I got through at 9:30 a.m. and kept the women on the line for 30 minutes asking about every other show in the area until it was 10 a.m. Then sheepishly asked her for six tickets to U2. It was a great show!



Howard Jacobs
Executive VP, marketing and sales, MSG Sports

Trends I’m watching:
The evolution and increased sophistication of digital ticketing and its ability to provide our fans with a flexible, reliable, efficient, immersive and personalized experience at MSG (and at all our venues). While traditional printed tickets will always be an option in New York, paperless entry will soon be a functionality that consumers will come to expect. The trick will be understanding what combination of content, valued-added services and connectivity to the live game experience (and to other fans) delivers real value for our fans.

My ticket memories:
I stayed up all night to line up outside in below-freezing temperatures to buy tickets for Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band at the old Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto in 1981. It was a total frenzy to get to the box office when it opened, and the thrill (and relief) of getting to the window and securing fourth-row seats was something I will never forget, and was well worth the pneumonia I secured. The moment could only be surpassed by the concert itself, when Bruce entered the audience and stood on the two chairs right in front of my best friend and me and roared through “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” to the massive sway of the crowd.



David Gravenkemper
Assistant athletic director, ticket sales and service, University of Washington

Trends I’m watching:
Dynamic pricing. It is changing the fundamentals on how tickets are priced throughout the industry. Dynamic pricing helps overall pricing become more of a science than ever before — it provides valuable data to support pricing decisions. UW became only the third college athletics team to implement dynamic pricing this year. I envision dynamic pricing becoming an industry standard across all sports in the next 2-3 years.

My ticket memories:
I’d say my top 3:
1992 Rose Bowl, Washington vs. Michigan. I was a college student and watched Washington finish off a national championship year with a resounding win over the Wolverines.
2001 MLB All-Star Game at Seattle. Working for the Mariners at the time and saw Cal Ripken Jr. hit a home run and win MVP in his final season.
2010 Winter Olympics, U.S. Hockey vs. Switzerland in Vancouver. Bought tickets off the street and watched the intensity of Olympic hockey.



John Walker
President, CEO, Tickets.com

Trends I’m watching: The continued evolution of digital ticketing — now that we’ve actually got fans adopting “paperless,” vendors are kicking it into high gear with apps that add value to the digital experience, not just removing paper from the equation. … Teams and venues are trying to find ways to maximize the value proposition for primary buyers. Using dynamic pricing to ensure buyers can find tickets at “market value” is one way, but continuing to improve the buying experience and adding value to primary tickets that doesn’t necessarily transfer to secondary buyers is also being explored. The goal here is not to eliminate the secondary market, rather to improve the effectiveness of marketing and selling primary tickets.



Dwayne Cooper
Director, product management, Paciolan


Trends I’m watching: Mobile delivery, especially as it relates to mobile wallet technology. Some of the largest players in technology such as Apple, PayPal, Google and Square are all developing mobile wallet solutions to: Provide a simple way to display the ticket for scanning when the event time is near; store and/or render the ticket locally to avoid bandwidth issues at the venue; provide an easy way to distribute tickets to companions.

My ticket memories:
My favorite event ever was the ’95 Final Four. A group of eight of us (all UCLA alums) made the trip up to Seattle and watched Ed O’Bannon lead the Bruins to their only post-Wooden championship. It was my first Final Four and the atmosphere, excitement and anticipation leading up to the tipoff in the Monday final was unforgettable.





David Goldberg
Principal, Spring Valley Partners

Trends I’m watching: I’m paying attention at those in the industry that are looking at how to move unsold inventory via value or discount channels. From Groupon and Living Social to Scorebig and Redbox, and to dynamic pricing efforts by new entrants and industry stalwarts, this is the really fertile ground in ticketing.

My ticket memories:
My first concert was Kiss in 1977 at the arena in St. Louis, but the first memorable buying experience was for the U2 Joshua Tree Tour in the mid-’80s. I remember hearing the announcement on WXRT in Chicago that wristbands were going to be given out and then sprinting out of my dorm room and running a mile and a half to Rose Records in Evanston. You could see others streaming out of their dorm rooms and apartments and joining in the race. It was as if we were following a pied piper. These methods seem wholly inefficient in an Internet era, but the energy created by the hysteria is hard to imagine today.



Sam Gerace
Chief executive officer, Veritix

Trends I’m watching: From the fan perspective, I’m watching two key trends: a sudden uptick in paperless tickets … and the rapid shift in fan behavior toward mobile-device use for event experience enhancement.
There are three trends from the team perspective that have my attention: The first is an increasing desire for actionable data — effectively the second wave of the “big data” trend, with the focus on relieving the frustration of not being able to generate real revenue from all the analytics. … The second is the need for a platform that will allow the team to engage fans 365 days a year, not just around game time or during the season. This goes hand in hand with the third trend — a shift in the relationship management paradigm toward membership versus traditional ticket commerce.

My ticket memories:
My first memorable ticketing-buying experience was for Chuck Mangione at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh on July 31, 1981 — the first time I bought tickets with money I earned.

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