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Is It Game Over for Season Ticket Programs?


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The rise in secondary ticket services like StubHub and the wide range of entertainment options available today have caused industry analysts to question whether season tickets will one day go the way of baseball cards and become mere museum artifacts.

Season ticket sales have taken a hit across all major sports, according to a 2015 Forbes article. Last season, the L.A. Angels of Anaheim sold fewer than 3 million tickets, a 13-year low. One thing has become clear: To keep fans coming back, teams need to offer more than just tickets.

That’s why more teams are rethinking traditional ticket programs, investing more resources on benefits, keepsakes and data analytics.

Enticing Benefits

As the secondary market separates the diehard fans from the dilettantes, sports teams are looking for ways to sweeten the pot for season ticket holders. Here are just a few examples:

  • The Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team offers incentives for early renewals, including discounts and prize drawings. Season ticket holders can also use a special entry, cutting down the time they spend waiting to get into the stadium.
  • The Indiana Pacers basketball team holds an invitation-only party with the team for people who buy a full season. They also guarantee season ticket holders get their regular season seats for all home playoff games and offer a 25 percent discount at the team store.
  • The Montreal Impact soccer team asks all of its season ticket holders what they want. They gather feedback on a regular basis and use it to plan benefits, venue upgrades, and other team business.
  • The Texas Rangers baseball team gives season ticket holders exclusive access to dining areas and a chance to catch a ball on the field.

Many of these and other sports teams also discount the per-game price below face value so season ticket holders see the economic benefits of signing on.

Banking on Keepsakes

In addition to player access, economic value, and on-site benefits, teams are offering season ticket holders special gifts and add-ons that help them share their team pride. For example, the Oregon Ducks college football team offers season ticket holders the option to purchase a media guide providing player and coach information at the beginning of the season and a set of commemorative sheet of tickets at the end of the season. A magnetic swipe card can help team store employees and vendors track season ticket holder discounts, making purchases easy on everyone.

Additionally, custom lanyards, deluxe tickets for rivalry games, and hard plastic tickets that can clip onto any lanyard can elevate the season ticket holder experience above those who are using print from home barcode tickets to attend the game.

Luxe cards that offer access to special areas designated for season ticket holders give an even greater sense of exclusivity to your most valuable fans — and encourage others to consider buying a season ticket next year.

Using Data Analytics

Industry analysts have termed data analytics “the other Moneyball” when it comes to boosting season ticket sales. In the same way the Oakland Athletics used data to build a better team, directors of ticketing operations are using it to identify the fans who are most likely to renew and glean more insights about their preferences and buying behavior. They’re looking for indications of loyalty revealed through buying habits, such as looking at ticket scanner data to determine how many games ticket-holders actually attend.

They’re even analyzing emails from fans and combining the data they have with demographic data on age, income and other variables. The Milwaukee Brewers have been doing this successfully for years, and it has paid off, MLB senior manager of advanced analytics Matt Horton said in a recent article.

Getting It All Done

Of course, managing all this data and delivering on these exclusive perks has become too time-consuming for most teams to handle in-house. That’s why a number of them are now using third-party vendors to manage customer data, allow fans to select their perks online and deliver them in addition to printing traditional season tickets.

DATA Communications Management has the technology and expertise to streamline and manage every aspect of your season ticket holder program, from data management and personalization to printing and delivery. In addition to printing tickets for NASCAR, the NFL, CFL, NHL, NBA and more, we use best-in-class technology and processes to manage premium perks for multi-tiered season ticket programs.

To learn more about our event ticket solutions, contact us today.

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