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Volume 24 No. 157
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Live from Minneapolis: A Tipping Point for Ticketing?

The discussion at the '16 AXS Ticketing Symposium on Thursday ran the gamut, at times going heavy on the future of ticketing systems — from fully open distribution to more controlled — with an emphasis on the technology powering the industry, while at other times offering a big dose of inspiration. The room stayed full and the crowd engaged throughout as we brought our three-day event to a close in Minneapolis.

FUTURE OF THE SEASON TICKET?: Discussion about shifts in the industry sparked an on-stage debate regarding the future of the season ticket, which traditionally has been a financial lifeblood for the entire sports industry. Rob Sine of IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions  argued that over time "traditional ticket models, traditional ticket packages, are going to be gone. Not only is how people are buying changing, but what people are buying." But the NBA's Amy Brooks cited record levels of season ticket sales around her league for the upcoming '16-17 season. "I don't think traditional ticket packages are going way," she said. "But teams are including other elements and incorporating value in other ways."

GAME-TIME DECISIONS: Consumers want to make their buying decisions in their own way and on their own schedule, which is helping drive changes in technology and philosophy. "We're very motivated and influenced by things like the shared economy and last-minute decision making," said Greg Mize of the Atlanta Braves. The club has worked with Experience over the past several seasons on a variety of mobile efforts, many of which are powered through MLBAM's Ballpark app. Added ReplyBuy's Josh Manley, "Today's fans want instant gratification. They don't want to jump through hoops. SeatGeek's Russ D'Souza told the audience that his firm's data shows that 30 percent of all tickets sold in sports are now being transacted on the day of the game.

The discussion at the '16 AXS Ticketing Symposium on Thursday ran the gamut, at times going heavy on the future of ticketing systems — from fully open distribution to more controlled — with an emphasis on the technology powering the industry, while at other times offering a big dose of inspiration. The room stayed full and the crowd engaged throughout as we brought our three-day event to a close in Minneapolis.

FUTURE OF THE SEASON TICKET?: Discussion about shifts in the industry sparked an on-stage debate regarding the future of the season ticket, which traditionally has been a financial lifeblood for the entire sports industry. Rob Sine of IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions  argued that over time "traditional ticket models, traditional ticket packages, are going to be gone. Not only is how people are buying changing, but what people are buying." But the NBA's Amy Brooks cited record levels of season ticket sales around her league for the upcoming '16-17 season. "I don't think traditional ticket packages are going way," she said. "But teams are including other elements and incorporating value in other ways."

GAME-TIME DECISIONS: Consumers want to make their buying decisions in their own way and on their own schedule, which is helping drive changes in technology and philosophy. "We're very motivated and influenced by things like the shared economy and last-minute decision making," said Greg Mize of the Atlanta Braves. The club has worked with Experience over the past several seasons on a variety of mobile efforts, many of which are powered through MLBAM's Ballpark app. Added ReplyBuy's Josh Manley, "Today's fans want instant gratification. They don't want to jump through hoops. SeatGeek's Russ D'Souza told the audience that his firm's data shows that 30 percent of all tickets sold in sports are now being transacted on the day of the game.

GATHERING PLACE: The millennial generation is all about getting a group of six to eight friends together and making a decision on how to be entertained on a Friday night, and that's where aggregators are making headway in the ticketing space, said GameTime's Brad Griffith. In a further sign of fragmentation, GameTime's data shows that about 80 percent of consumers using its system to search for tickets do not use StubHub, the market leader for purchasing tickets on the secondary market. "With the rise of mobile, it's a much different experience ... and it's about how do we make it easy for people to make that decision," Griffith said. "We recognize those age 18 to 24 have an enormous value to the team."

DEEP IN THE DATA: While technology can help make ticketing transactions easier, it's just as important to know what to charge, and even who to target. Teams have so much data available to them these days that it is easy to get lost in the weeks. The Charlotte Hornets' Chris Zeppenfeld said that during the summer, he was spending as much as 50% of his time working with his staff to figure out how best to use the available analytics. Kore Software's Russell Scibetti added that it isn't just analyzing the data that is important, but figuring out an effective way to communicate what it means, "or it doesn't take a form that you can take action on."

ROLE REVERSAL: In a 45-minute discussion themed "people, development, recognition," executives from the 76ers and Devils talked about developing a successful corporate culture. 76ers/Devils/Prudential Center CEO Scott O'Neil talked about a program in which the team's managers switch roles with other staffers within the organization for a game, taking on roles as ushers and other arena workers. "When you wear a fancy suit or a fancy tie, everyone will pay attention to you and look you in the eye and want to talk with you," he said. "But then you switch spots and be an usher for a game, or security for game, and no one wants to talk to you, or look you in the eye or engage you. People can make you feel like you don't matter. So, for our executive staff or managers to serve in that role for a night can be very humbling, and you learn what other's experience is like and it helps us stress to them how we all work together and tell people they are valuable to the success of the organization."

THEY SAID IT:

— "Ticketing hasn't really innovated until the last five or six years. The consumer has demanded it." AXS CEO Bryan Perez.
— "My friends are shocked that I'm at sports events now. Aren't those the people that beat us up in high school?" ShooWin founder/CEO and Broadway producer Brisa Trinchero.
— "I think that will change rapidly." AEG Sports/L.A. Kings' Kelly Cheeseman, saying teams will soon know more than the traditional 20% of their audience in the building.

ALL ABOUT THE SOCKS: The Sixers' Jake Reynolds was sporting some trendy socks with an image of Allen Iverson, commemorating Iverson's Hall of Fame induction.

BIG FANS OF THE CAVS: Cavs/Quicken Loans CEO Len Komoroski talked about the global following of the team on Twitter and said one of the strongest markets of followers of the team has been the Philippines.

HELLOOOO CLEVELAND!: Komoroski also touted the rub-off impact of the Cavs' title, and cited a survey that showed that 75% of Clevanders now recommend Cleveland to a friend, up from 54% in 2015 and 34% in 2012. The big jump, of course, came after the Cavs won the NBA Finals.

SEEN & HEARD: The NBA's Brooks visited the new Golden 1 Center in Sacramento last week. It was a special visit for her, as she is a native of the city. O'Neil said he plans on visiting  next week. Early buzz on the building is very positive.

HEINEMAN'S BREAKFAST CLUB: If you're ever interviewing for job with Sporting KC's Robb Heineman, don't get flustered.  He talked about his hiring test, which includes going to breakfast with a job candidate and telling the server to bring the job candidate the wrong order. "You just want to see their reaction and how they handle a problem," he said. "If they don't say anything, that's not good. It's pretty telling. You see a lot of fun responses."

TAKE A LOOK: In yesterday's email, we mentioned a few of the facilities videos that we've seen this week. Here are links to two of them: the Vikings time lapse and the aerial video from the Little Caesars Arena construction site.

SOCIAL ANIMALS: Thanks to everyone who used our conference hashtags — #sbjsff and #sbjtix — and kept the conversation rolling, particularly @PRyanTexas, @JeffYocum, @BillFagan and @rscibetti. Here are a few of the tweets we liked:
@KTsportsmarket: Been in the #Sportsbiz for 20 years and it's still always cool when you get so do things like this. pic.twitter.com/W8BznqtWQX
@JeffYocum: Great Covey quote from @ScottONeil culture panel this morning at #sbjtix. Always been a proponent of "sticking to the knitting".
@breakground: Traditional season tix pax model dead? #NBA's Amy Brooks says no, record sales league-wide. #sbjtix pic.twitter.com/68GaslNfsN
@PRyanTexas: Proud of our Eventellect #sbjtix scholarship winners and ready for a full day of learning and networking pic.twitter.com/2iohhzXozi

SIGNING OFF FROM THE TWIN CITIES: We hope to see you in Manhattan Beach in two weeks for the 2016 NeuLion Sports Media & Technology conference.