Ticketing strategies that work
Team ticketing executives highlight effective strategies and pass along some of the earliest lessons they learned about the ticketing business. Highlights of their responses, which were submitted via email, have been edited for clarity and brevity.
VP of ticket sales and service, Minnesota Twins
Last season, we launched a mobile access flex plan which provided 20 “vouchers” redeemable via the MLB Ballpark App for any non-elite-tier home game. Two pricing scales were available: Field Box (lower level), Home Plate View (upper level behind the plate). The goal of this plan was to meet the demand of our fans for flexibility and spontaneity in their schedules. An additional benefit of this program was the continued growth and adoption of mobile ticketing through the MLB Ballpark App. We also launched an unlimited Ticket Exchange program for the majority of our season-ticket holders to also meet the need to have a more flexible schedule. With this new benefit our season-ticket holders can now exchange any future game in their plan for a same or lesser-tier game later in the season.
Senior director, membership and retention, Pittsburgh Pirates
We now use an online/live ticketing relocation platform through Ballena. With us being an open/cold-weather venue, we wanted to provide our members with a better experience than coming down to our ballpark to pull tags from a seat. This allows our members based on tenure to see live inventory from the comforts of their home or office. We had over a 50 percent increase in traffic to our site compared to our old select-a-seat events. We still follow up with handwritten notes and phone calls to our members.
VP, ticket sales and fan services, Philadelphia Union
School Fundraiser Program. This is a hybrid model between your traditional school group outing and a fundraiser that fourth or fifth graders naturally partake in where the product they’re selling is typically candy, wrapping paper, etc. In this case, they have order forms to sell tickets for three to four different games. Essentially, you are creating an additional sales force. Credit Jason Cohen (Washington Nationals) and Barry Gibson (Indiana Pacers) with where I first heard the idea.
VP, sales and service, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment
As the Maple Leafs launched into our centennial season, we knew our marquee game between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings would be a high-demand marquee property with a top-tier price point. In parallel, we launched our Maple Leafs and Red Wings alumni game and resisted the urge to bundle — a common practice for events like this. While bundled selling often achieves revenue goals, the leveraging isn’t typically enjoyed by fans and attendance suffers along with per caps. With strategic and thorough full pricing and scaling … the game will sell over 25,000 seats and expose a new fan base to our centennial celebration without the awkwardness or negativity of leveraged selling.
VP, ticket sales and service, Sporting KC
Rolling over clients’ single-match suite and group deposits for extra future events at Children’s Mercy Park has helped us at Sporting KC greatly. Instead of a client of ours using their deposit to go toward the total price of their tickets for a set match, we show them the benefit of leaving that deposit on their account for another future event, thus bumping them up on our priority list for the next new event scheduled, playoffs, or the following season. This simple process essentially renews multiple clients for additional events repeatedly, which helps drive scarcity and demand.
|The Columbus Blue Jackets take a more customizable approach to group sales.
Senior director, ticket sales, Columbus Blue Jackets
We adjusted our group sales incentive program from a generic gift such as a hat for every group of 50 or more to a tailored gift based on the specific group. The purpose was to tap into more casual buyers who may be attending a Blue Jackets game for the first time as part of this larger initiative. The items are an additional driver for a fan to attend that specific game beyond a ticket discount. A few examples are a First Responders commemorative coin, Educators Night tote bag, Jewish Heritage Night dreidel and STEM student notebooks.
Chief revenue officer, Houston Rockets
We shifted to a digital and paperless entry into Toyota Center several years ago. … Not only has this provided a seamless way for our members to transfer their seats to their guests, but it has also helped us to create a relationship with the actual game attendee and communicate important information to the end user — such as game time, parking and traffic information, promotional items, and unique game-specific food and merchandise offerings. The game-day experience starts from the moment a fan decides to attend the game until he or she arrives home postgame, and this connection allows us to cater to their needs throughout the entire process.
VP, ticket sales and service, Milwaukee Bucks
Our Starting 5 plan, where you get to choose the best matchup for each of our starters, and our flex plan, which allows you to get creative with the games you attend by choosing any games (minimum of 12) throughout the season.
Director, premium seating, Florida Panthers
One ticketing strategy that has brought us great success is using our data for more targeted emails and ticket packages. Using current customer data, we have been able to get specific game opponents, times and days of the week emails out to our clients. This approach has helped us bring more people into the area and has given our sales executives stronger leads to call and move our clients into more packages that best fit their needs.
Executive VP, ticket sales and strategy, Arizona Coyotes
A recent ticketing strategy that continues to work for the Arizona Coyotes is a “ticket plan for every fan.” By extending alternatives to a season ticket, fans have a choice with respect to seating, price and number of games. … The most flexible option in our product mix is the Flex Pack. It consists of 10 ticket vouchers that can be used in any increment and upgraded for traditional, premium and platinum games. This is a critical second step in getting fans up the sales escalator.
|The Pitchside Seating Club brought new business for New York City FC.
VP, ticket sales and fan services, New York City FC
We rolled out the new Pitchside Seating Club this past season, allowing fans to walk through Monument Park and the Yankees bullpen before finding their seats just feet away from the teams’ benches and playing field. … This product helped the club start many new relationships,
Senior VP, sales and operations, Orlando Magic
We continue to create and implement strategies on how to develop new fans while leveraging expiring inventory within the Amway Center. One way we achieve this goal is to sell access to the building rather than a specific seat. This strategy has revolutionized how we increase the amount of fans at our games and create a pipeline of future full-season ticket purchasers. The Magic Fast Break Pass is a partial plan that is sold exclusively online and on our app. Tickets are loaded into your account, accessible from your mobile phone, when you are within one mile of our building and one hour prior to game time. Tickets cannot be transferred or resold. This has assisted us in increasing our attendance by thousands of fans during certain times of the year. And most importantly, Magic Fast Break purchasers have become one of our top leads for upgrading to full seasons for next season.
Senior VP, ticket sales and service, Texas Rangers
|Fans sport Rangers caps in Texas A&M colors during the MLB team’s University Days.
Group ticket sales manager, D.C. United
We make it a focus with all of our outbound touch points to get our prospects/clients face-to-face via events at RFK Stadium or our new preview center, stadium tours, one-on-one meetings, etc. This strategy isn’t rocket science but it helps us continue to build stronger relationships and ultimately create more revenue-generating opportunities.
John Bauernfeind writes for sister publication SportsBusiness Daily.