SBJ/Feb. 10-16, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

PGA Tour opens multi-event sales center

The PGA Tour has launched a call center from its Florida headquarters to sell tickets for four of its tournaments.

A staff of 12 newly hired sales executives began work last week in a repurposed section of the media center at TPC Sawgrass, the golf course that hosts The Players Championship. They’re charged with making 100 or more phone calls a day to current and former ticket buyers in an effort to increase sales.

Sales manager Scott Gordon (standing) and salespeople work in the PGA Tour’s new call center.
Photo by: STAN BADZ / PGA TOUR
They represent the ticket inventory for four events that are managed by the tour: The Players, The Tour Championship, the WGC-Cadillac Championship and The Barclays, a FedEx Cup playoff tournament.

A centralized sales center selling across multiple events is something the tour has never had before.

The tour brought in Troy Tutt from the New York Yankees to oversee the effort. Tutt, the tour’s senior director of national sales, oversaw premium and suite sales for the Yankees for the past three years. He previously worked with the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers on ticket sales.

“This is something we’ve been wanting for years,” said Eddie Carbone, tournament director of the WGC-Cadillac Championship. “It’s great to have people who know our product and can reach out to customers in our database. I think it’s got a lot of potential.”

Tutt came on five months ago and then brought on sales manager Scott Gordon to have direct oversight and help train the sales staff. Tutt worked with Gordon in Cleveland. They went through an intensive search for entry-level sales executives and made hires from late last year into early January.

The tour picked these four tournaments because they are operated by the tour’s championship management group. While most PGA Tour events have a local nonprofit in the tournament’s market to manage the tournament, 10 others are run out of the tour’s championship management office in Ponte Vedra Beach.

“The goal is to grow this and expand it across more tournaments,” Tutt said.

Each PGA Tour tournament has a local dedicated sales staff, but some might be as small as one or two people and their focus is almost always on the premium inventory, such as hospitality and pro-am spots. A growing number of tickets are simply sold online with no direct communication between the tournament and many of its customers.

The Cadillac Championship is like many tournaments — it has no one full-time whose primary responsibility is to sell tickets, and the tournament typically brings in three to four volunteers to process orders.

The tour’s new outbound sales center will give these events a proactive approach they’ve never had.

“This direct contact gives us a chance to, first of all, thank fans, but also to find out what they think and educate them on what kind of ticket packages are available,” Tutt said. “If they’ve been buying a grounds pass, maybe there is an upsell opportunity that makes sense, such as shared hospitality or an upgraded space with air conditioning.”

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