Not just the ticket

To: cevmkt-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Not just the ticket
From: "Amir Somoggi" <amir18amir@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2003 14:54:04 -0200

É muito triste saber que esta realidade está muito longe de chegar ao Brasil.

Um abraço atodos.

Amir Not just the ticket

Growing revenues with ticketing systems
Advances in smart-card ticketing and CRM technology mean there are many more aspects to consider when devising a new ticketing system. Meeting the venue?s operational goals, customer service and increasing revenues are all paramount

It?s hard to imagine that there was once a time when venue and ticketing managers did not have to worry about queues, counterfeit tickets, scalping, and all of today?s other maladies involved in the ticketing process. Tickets were once used solely as a means of crowd control and the thought of gathering personal information was as foreign as the possibility of Luxembourg winning the FIFA World Cup. However, the proliferation of internet and database ticketing programs, coupled with the entertainment boom of the 20th century, has brought a paradigm shift in the stadium and venue entertainment business. The effects are widespread but, in particular, advanced ticketing systems are becoming fully integrated into all facets of stadium operations. They are allowing teams and venue management access to an exceptional level of demographic information, transforming their abilities to control access and design targeted marketing programs.

With these technological advances, teams and venue operators are being presented with unprecedented new opportunities and an augmented set of challenges at the crossroads of ticketing and marketing. It is not enough to understand that a venue?s ticketing and access control systems are of vital importance to its success and economic health; managers need to bring both ticketing and marketing departments together to devise systems that both save on the operational front and generate an increased return on investment (ROI).

?Proper ticketing systems need to outperform their predecessors and accumulate back-end savings while offering front-end benefits,? says Matt Scheckner, a New York-based stadium consultant. ?In the simplest terms, systems that maximise gate and sponsorship revenue, while accumulating above-the-line savings as well.?

Meeting customer needs

But before new systems can be implemented it is important to understand the two driving factors behind the evolution of ticketing.

First, the ability to exploit databases has brought customer relationship management (CRM) within the purview of ticket directors, as the ability to customise ticket plans and giveaways has never been easier. By tracking vital customer data and behavioural patterns on a micro level, ticket sellers can tailor promotional packages towards individual customer needs.

Rob Ryan, operations director for the New York Power soccer team of the Women?s United Soccer Association, is one of the league?s most outspoken advocates of CRM. ?At first our sales staff was mandated to target corporations drawing our resources away from selling to our core audience,? he says. ?It wasn?t until after we sent our aggregated sales data to the league office that we were able to properly appropriate our sales staff resources. CRM certainly helped us focus our efforts on higher percentage leads.?

Second, the proliferation of internet usage has led to online purchasing quickly becoming the dominant method of ticket purchase. More than USD450m in event tickets were sold online during 2002, which is expected to increase to USD1.2bn by 2007, according to internet consulting firm Jupiter Research.

MLB Advanced Media, the interactive media and internet company of Major League Baseball, recently reported that it had sold a record six million tickets online at, the official league website, and all 30 individual club sites. Some 3.9 million tickets were sold online for the entire 2002 season. More than 20 per cent of league tickets, excluding season tickets, are sold via the internet.

?Online ticket sales already surpass the number of tickets sold by telephone or at ticket outlets and we believe that buying tickets online is the way most single game tickets will be purchased in the future,? declares Noah Garden, senior vice president of e-commerce for MLBAM.

Devising a ticketing system

The bottom line is that decisions need to be made to ease the burden of the ticketing department while increasing the exposure of the marketing department. When choosing a ticketing system that fits in with the operational goals of a venue, many factors come in to play.

Here are some guidelines for teams and venue operators to consider when examining and devising a new ticketing system.

1 Meet minimum requirements

Today effective systems can be defined as ones that identify fraudulent tickets with ease (that is those that do not require extensive training for employees to identify fakes), possess outstanding transaction speed (1,000 patrons per hour minimum) and not only collect and control patron data at the point of sale but possess the ability to design customised patron reports to drive and implement targeted marketing programs. Ensuring that you control your own ticket inventory is also vitally important.

2 Know your ticket choices

The physical form of the ticket has long been considered an integral part of new marketing platforms. But all three main methods of ticketing all have their benefits and drawbacks and must be examined closely.

Paper tickets delivered either on the day of event or via the mail are a useful sales tool from a sponsorship perspective, but it is the most costly method operationally. Wasted employee resources, excessive queue lengths and the higher percentages of counterfeits are all among the risks. Despite significant developments in this area thanks to advances in overt and covert coding, holograms and copy-void techniques, the industry is moving away from this as the primary source of ticketing.

Print-your-own ticket technology via the internet is becoming more commonly used. This allows the facility to save on having to issue and pay for stock while still enabling them to garner a high level of demographic information. Current systems also enable internet sales to occur for a longer period of time ? in most cases up to one hour before the event. Ticketfast from Ticketmaster is one example of a system backbone. One advantage includes a decrease in queue lengths at the ticket window. But lines can be longer at point of entry because of a higher need to scrutinise tickets, meaning a higher level of employee training is needed.

Elsewhere, smart card ticketing and access control technology is gaining in popularity. This is the most fascinating ticketing form due to its huge potential for aggregating an unprecedented level of personal information about sports fans and the ability to decrease queue lengths. Although the industry has been slow to accept the move away from traditional ticketing methods, there are signs of an accelerated increase in the number of venues transitioning to an e-system.

3 Why go to e-commerce?

Traditional methods are not going to be eliminated anytime soon, but paperless ticketing will help stop the problem of insufficient ticket booths for sales or inadequate space or allocation for ticketing gates, particularly at smaller venues.

Savings will be seen through the elimination of the ticket printing operation. More crucially, the integrated patron databases, advanced reports and analysis capabilities and the fact that the technology is built on an open standard means data can be easily exported to spreadsheets and word processors in order to be extrapolated.

Other advantages include automated gate entry, which eliminates staffing needs and a reduction in forgeries and scalping as the smart card?s personal information will be needed by an individual to enter the venue. In addition, there will be savings on reissuing tickets that have been lost or stolen, better security and reduced queue lengths.

But this transition also requires that smart card suppliers, teams and venues spend on education. It will require a strong PR and marketing effort to get fans to believe in the reliability of the system. Another drawback lies in recapturing the sponsorship revenue lost from physical tickets. But with the new technology comes a host of new sponsorship revenue streams ? it just requires a little more creative thinking on the part of the smart card suppliers and teams.

Currently, several English Premier League football clubs are using smart-card technology effectively, including Liverpool at Anfield and Manchester City at the newly opened City of Manchester Stadium. Some 50,000 Liverpool FC members and Manchester City?s 35,000 season-ticket holders have been issued with contactless smart cards, which replace traditional paper tickets and season-ticket books to offer improved stadium access. The new systems use Fortress?s secure smart-card application and Inside Contactless?s technology PicoPass to electronically store the cardholder records on to what resembles a normal credit card.

The cards contain a full range of customisable personal information as well as day of game details such as seat entitlements, and a small microchip programmed by the respective club that permits entry simply by waving the card in front of a reader.

Using a colour-coded entry system, a valid card will open the turnstile while a false entry will immediately alert stewards. For additional security, venue management can monitor exactly when and where users enter the stadium.

The card not only provides rapid entry to the stadium but it also has a back-end feed into a CRM database that opens up a host of new opportunities for loyalty and sponsorship programs. The cards can even be used in place of cash to purchase merchandise and concessions via electronic funds.

While both clubs are feeling their way with the smart-card solution, they expect to exploit its additional benefits of e-purse, loyalty and various other applications to improve their relationships with fans in the coming seasons.

Meanwhile, currently being beta tested is a system in use at Glasgow Rangers FC of the Scottish Premier League in which smart-card holders will simply register online for the match they wish to attend and the chip in the card will be activated automatically by a central system at the club?s office.

4 Align marketing and ticketing

Too many ticketing departments only share data with their marketing departments when directly asked, and even then only aggregated data. Aligning the departments is vital to the success of a new program. It may even be worth merging them.

By ensuring the two departments work side by side, ticket sellers can maximise the exposure necessary to attract significant numbers of patrons. Also, don?t be afraid to take chances with marketing schemes, but don?t give away the farm. It is important to be able to fuel sales growth regardless of the team?s standing.

5 Maintain a customer focus

Remember that the integration of new systems needs to be focused on customers and not on technology. Even more important than utilising best-of-breed technology must come an increased level of tailored service in all aspects of ticketing, marketing and access.

6 Exploit the information

Both aggregate and personal data are useful tools for managers. By collecting and analysing accurate aggregate data, the teams obtain a better idea of actual and expected numbers to help recognise inconsistencies in overall attendance and general staffing and timing issues. Personalised data is a key concept in establishing an effective CRM system and helps to retain established customers by offering access to a more detailed level of information. In addition, information can also be used as a tool to enhance vendor relations as the cumulative data can help bring better controls on cost estimates. Database systems from Ticketmaster and are two examples of systems that enable users to easily handle and extrapolate information.

?Teams can?t depend any more on customer loyalty or big-league standings to ring up the cash register, since these will always wax and wane,? stresses CRM research director Colleen Amuso of the Gartner Group, the international technology research company.

7 The wireless movement

The proliferation of mobile devices and personal digital assistants makes it very likely that the next generation of mobile ticketing will soon take off, as stadia themselves begin to integrate wireless technology.

One manager at Nokia Ventures, one of the first venture capital firms to back new ticketing systems, says it best. ?The ability to purchase tickets and other concessions or merchandise, pay for parking in advance, receive information and communicate with venues anytime, anywhere and from any device, represents the type of applications and services that will become prevalent in the future.?

Undoubtedly, there will be myriad benefits, but only as long as traditional ticketing outlets and sponsorship revenue streams are not overlooked.

Remember some ticket buyers still prefer traditional methods since many patrons want to have their tickets in their hands prior to arriving at the venue.

Maximising the potential

So where are we headed? Teams and venues are certainly making greater use of the internet, CRM ticketing tools and smart cards but they have yet to exploit their full capabilities. Capturing more personalised information remains the challenge.

Carl Thomas, executive vice president of sales and marketing at, believes many have yet to realise the total functionality of CRM systems. He says: ?The idea of CRM is easy to talk about but more difficult to understand the information you have and how to leverage it. Those who are doing it well are reaping the benefits.?

Systems will be developed that identify how many hot dogs patron A bought on Sunday evening in the rain. It is then that the concept of interconnectivity will reach its full potential, allowing ticket sellers to offer greater levels of service and generate an increased share of revenue from sponsors. Information is real power ? the key is to use it properly.

Laurence Kalinsky is an independent sports and entertainment consultant based in Los Angeles, USA

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