Teams Not Adding Value, Exhibiting Innovation With Ticket Offers

Darren Rovell wrote this week that only a handful of teams immediately offered partial season ticket plans following the release of the full NBA schedule, a somewhat surprising revelation given the expected difficult ticket market projected for the upcoming season. It begs the question if teams are doing enough, and how risky is lowering prices on the long-term stability of ticket sales.

First, I’m shocked that in this day of emerging social media and fan engagement that no team (from the information I gathered) ran any prediction contest to win tickets. Here’s 41 home dates, pick who we play on which dates, most right gets tickets to the game of their choice, second best gets the option to buy tickets to any game at any price point, or something along those lines – what day will the team first host Lebron, closest date wins tickets, etc. That would at least serve to stir up engagement, incentivize fans to start to following on its various platforms building the customer database, and serve as a platform to publicize ticket offers. The perfect engagement opportunity during what amounts to a dead period in the NBA, but little action.

Next, teams should be wary of aggressive price cuts this early in the sales cycle, yet need to flex innovation to move tickets. Creating multi-game plans that force fans to buy 6 games in order to see Lebron or Kobe is old hat. A still fledgling, unproven is bundling tickets from multiple sports – a Hawks-Braves partnership, or a Rangers-Mavs bundle. Another popular plan is the “Pick-A-Plan”, essentially an a la carte multi-game ticket package. Teams could put a different spin on this, allowing fans that purchase this a la cart plan before a specified date to create a theme around the games they pick, then the team can pick the best four and put them for sale for one month, the person whose plan sells the most gets a full refund on the tickets. You can try to unify the fans that buy each of these ticket packages into the same section, create some camaraderie, and make the experience meaningful.

What teams should avoid is slashing prices too early or without recourse. This week, the Texas Rangers announced discounts up to 75% on some weekday games the rest of the season – mind you, this is a team in the playoff race with improved attendance over last season. But offering these cheap tickets without adding value to the early buyers sets bad precedent for future fan action. In conjunction with this offer, teams unloading last minute ticket inventory should offer current ticket holders seat upgrades at low prices, making upgrades available only to fans that purchased prior to a certain date, or to season ticket holders in less preferred ticket positions. Provide an incentive to hold a ticket, and give those that purchased an advantage. Then back fill available tickets that upgraded in the low price, last minute offering. It’s possible to double incremental revenue, while maintaining the incentive for early purchases.

Many teams are publicly stating financial losses. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, struggling baseball teams due to lure fans out down the stretch, and what the numerous NBA teams that did nothing to improve during the off-season

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