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Volume 24 No. 137
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Continued Development In Ticketing Has Sports Industry Trying To Keep Up

Ticketing’s historic wave of change and transformation dominated the opening session of the ’16 AXS Ticketing Symposium this morning. As continued developments such as blended marketplaces of primary and secondary inventory, consolidation of broker activity and sales analytics have altered the very notion of what it means to sell a ticket in sports. “Ticketing hasn’t really innovated until the last five or six years,” said AXS CEO Bryan Perez. “The consumer has demanded it. So it’s incumbent upon us to do two things. We have to recognize what we’re good at, and we also have to understand we have to be integrated with partners who better at other things than we are.” Perez such companies such as S.F.-based Gametime, who focuses heavily on mobile-based millennial buyers in last-minute sales windows. “I’m not beating them on that segment of the market,” Perez said. “We have to embrace these companies.” The large macro-level shifts, in turn, have also created an unprecedented level of tailoring and customization in the creation and selling of various ticket products. “We can either try to control our fans or build relationships with them and serve them in the way they want to be served,” said Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagement President & CEO Dave Butler. “Serving me at 60 years old is different than they way they serve a 30-year-old. ... We have to look at this from the fan’s perspective.” Added NBA Exec VP/Team Marketnig & Business Operations Amy Brooks, "We’re shifting from a mode of broadcast communication to one-to-one communication.”

ARE SEASON TICKETS STILL VIABLE? All the industry shifts also created an on-stage debate regarding the future of the season ticket, which traditionally has been a financial lifeblood for the entire sports industry. IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions President Rob Sine argued that over time, “traditional ticket models, traditional ticket packages are going to be gone." Sine: "Not only is how people are buying changing, but what people are buying.” But Brooks cited record levels of season-ticket sales around her league for the upcoming ’16-17 season. She said, “I don’t think traditional ticket packages are going way. But teams are including in other elements and incorporating value in other ways.”

* Brooks, on the shift in ticket analytics hiring: “Five or 10 years ago, only a handful of our teams had a person in [ticket] analytics. Now every single team has one.”

* Perez, on the move to more open ticketing. “The days of come only to my website and buy this ticket are gone." However, he cautioned open ticket relationships need to be developed in a strategic, collaborative way.

* On affordable tickets: Brooks said the NBA has more than 4 million tickets across the league priced at $20 or less. “It’s a totally different selling approach than a courtside seat,” she said.

* Perez said of mobile-based sales communication between ticketing companies and fans: “If you are buzzing me in my pocket, it better be good, or else I’m never listening again."

* Brooks said of the advent of new ticket sales technologies: “I’m very excited about sales acceleration technologies. The days of just pounding on the phone are gone.”