SBJ/Jan. 19-25, 2015/Facilities

Teams turn to text as quick, simple way to sell tickets

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Several NBA, NHL and college teams are testing a new way to sell single-game tickets through mobile text messages.

ReplyBuy, a 4-year-old Scottsdale, Ariz., tech firm, has deals with the Brooklyn Nets, Washington Capitals and Wizards, Los Angeles Clippers, Detroit Pistons and Arizona Coyotes.

In addition, Marquette and Rice are using the system this season in college basketball. Teams and schools share revenue with ReplyBuy for every ticket sold through the text system.

ReplyBuy allows registered users to buy tickets simply by replying to a text message.
Photo by: REPLYBUY
Text messaging has been around for years and it remains a powerful form of communication, with 1 billion texts sent a day in the U.S. alone, said Josh Manley, ReplyBuy’s founder and CEO. Simplicity, speed and mobile are the “three pillars we stand on,” Manley said.

The system enables teams to send text messages with ticket offers a few days before a game to fans registered for ReplyBuy’s Mobile Pass program, which includes their payment information. To confirm the purchase, a customer sends a text back with the number of tickets desired.

The teams then charge the buyer’s credit card on file to complete the transaction. The transactions take place in a matter of seconds and tickets are delivered digitally to a fan’s device or by email to print at home.

The key to ReplyBuy’s system, according to early adopters, is a partnership with Ticketmaster that links its technology with Archtics, the ticketing company’s back-of-house system, which is used by most big league teams and some colleges.

The integration provides a rapid and seamless transaction without “pushback from the ticket office” over customer service issues, said Jeff Morander, the Coyotes’ executive vice president of ticket sales and strategy.

ReplyBuy addresses issues with customers directly without its clients having to get involved, said Kim Dulde, Marquette’s associate athletic director of marketing and sales.

It’s still new to sports but the half-dozen teams using ReplyBuy are starting to see some traction.

The Clippers alone sold $7,000 in single-game ticket inventory for their Jan. 7 game against the Lakers after sending a text the day before to 2,500 people signed up for ReplyBuy, confirmed Carl Lahr, the Clippers’ senior vice president of marketing and sales. It was the team’s first offer of the season.

The Coyotes were among ReplyBuy’s first clients and about 1,500 fans have signed up to receive the text offers after the team sent emails about the system to thousands of past ticket buyers for Coyotes games and concerts.

Their three text offers have resulted in about 200 discounted tickets sold for rinkside seats and other locations in the lower and upper bowl, Morander said.

The Pistons, the first NBA team to adopt ReplyBuy, had 4,000 signups before the regular season, said Mike Donnay, the team’s vice president of brand networks. They gave away a signed Andre Drummond jersey on Opening Night to a registered user as an incentive to sign up for the program.

The Pistons have sent 10 text offers since the season started and the last four have resulted in four times the number of tickets sold over the first six offers, he said.

The inventory is mostly seats behind the baskets in the lower bowl with tickets priced $10 less than face value.

“It’s filled a strategic void for how we can best use mobile and get people purchasing tickets early,” Donnay said.

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