Written by Troy Kirby, Director of Ticket Operations at UC Davis & NAATSO President. Follow Troy on Twitter at @SportsTao.
One-off ticket platforms are a thing of the past, but a majority of vendors are still selling them to unsuspecting college athletic departments and franchises. The rate of return from these older systems has moved past a rip-and-tear era, where the needs of the client were to merely sell and print a ticket.
When trying to gain the edge in revenue generation, sports organizations need to cast their net wider. I recommend examining an overall ecosystem, determining how each dollar is gained, and crunching interactions to determine each customer’s spend capacity in relation to the overall scope of his or her relationship with the organization.
Fundamental Change in Philosophy
In the past, every aspect of the customer’s buying experience took place at the box office and in silos. If a fan spent money on parking, it was never factored into the total value of the visit. Organizations had no idea which fans who bought the best tickets, but consistently declined to buy anything in-stadium. And, when a sports fan purchased his or her favorite player’s jersey, there was no analysis or information shared with other departments aside from the credit card transaction.
No data was stored so the customer’s purchase could be aligned with other transactions. Organizations simply had no idea of the true value of their individual fans or how much they spent at the stadium.
Consider how data dysfunction and sales silos can hinder an organization as a whole.
Revenue Doesn’t Wait For Change
Today, every athletic department and sports franchise is in a continual revenue fight to discover more about the customers that they already have. This is not the 1970s, when customers could be counted on to show up to get their fix of live sports entertainment.
With 1,000 television channels and a billion Internet streaming options available, live entertainment is in a bloodsport fight for its very survival.
Sports executives can no longer rely on spreadsheets, guesstimates or any other archaic system to supply strategic customer information on increasing their revenue streams.
It comes down to the mindset of blending; specifically tying ticket sales, athletic department donation asks, merchandise and other revenue streams together into one unit.
Having multiple software platforms “talk to each other” is, in some cases, simply another guessing game. Few vendors can actually deliver on this front.
Conversely, with all revenue streams connected in one software platform, the entire customer experience is unified and sports executives can access information they need to grow revenue.
These are goals that should be set out by sports executives when committing to an RFP for a new revenue platform.
Talking a Big Game
Many software sales reps offer a “single-minded solution” where each piece can “talk to another.”
This is not what clients or fans need in today’s competitive sports revenue landscape.
Software “talking to each other” may sound good, yet most reps are making promises about vendor software their company does not own or control. They cannot know how or when another vendor may make changes to their platform, or even whether the ability to “talk to” their own software will last beyond even the RFP period.
There’s also the issue of customer satisfaction. Imagine a fan being directed through three different platforms to make a purchase. Cumbersome!
Multiple systems and multiple databases create barriers. They make it difficult to sell multiple products at once, such as tickets, merchandise and donations.
Let’s face it, fans have a tendency to give up, rather than give in, when a buying experience stinks.
One Experience, Multiple Revenue Streams
Fans shouldn’t be able to detect any difference in their purchase experience when buying merchandise, making a gift a donation, or picking seats to an upcoming game. A seamless experience equals satisfaction, plus the ability to upsell, cross-sell and collect valuable data.
More data makes it possible to create a better profile of individual fans. In turn, there is the opportunity to better engage each individual while providing customized offers that move fans up the sales escalator.
Hitting a Home Run
It is imperative that sports organizations examine how to unify their systems into one platform.
The goal should be to offer a collective buying experience that generates the data sports executives need in order to better sell their products to fans. This goes beyond tickets.
The only way to do that is to use a software platform that actually considers everything – from ticketing, e-commerce and in-venue sales to marketing, fundraising and analytics – and integrates it in one place.