Did you know that roughly 43% of programs pay some type of fixed fee to their outsourced ticketing partner, but that some schools are receiving valuable hardware credits from their ticketing system vendors? Win AD’s Vendor database offers unparalleled access to major revue agreements—including ticketing systems and outsourced ticketing—providing succinct summaries of data for a quick comparison (as well as .pdfs the actual agreements). The database houses tens of thousands of pages of agreements, representing billions of dollars in aggregate value, giving you the data to benchmark and negotiate with more power.
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A critical driver of revenues, ticketing is an area within the athletic department that is evolving at a pace that would have been difficult to comprehend only a few years ago. Less standardized across universities, ticketing offices are nonetheless employing myriad new technologies and techniques to market, sell, and deliver tickets to consumers—all in the face of a difficult economic climate where there are more options for at-home game experiences than at any time previous. We wanted to know more about real-time forecasting of ticket demand, the increasing use of mobile ticketing and ticket exchanges, and learn more about how ticket prices are set annually.
Five Ticketing Directors were good enough to sit down with Ryan Matthews, Winthrop’s Managing Editor, to share their experiences and discuss the future of ticketing services: Brian Kelly, Assistant AD for Ticket Sales and Operations at North Carolina State; Sandy Smith, Assistant Director of Athletics for Ticketing Services at Virginia Tech; Brad Darmofal, Assistant Athletic Director, Sales and Customer Service at Wake Forrest University; Jim O’Neil, Associate Athletics Director of Ticket Operations at Boston College; and Matt Monroe, Assistant Athletic Director for Ticket Services at the University of Maryland.
Part Two will be posted tomorrow (Friday) at 6am
Technology is having an enormous and swift effect on ticketing – how impactful is real time (or near real time) reporting on your ability to accurately forecast demand versus actual sales?
It is critical to have that information at your fingertips. We are selling tickets months in advance of most games, and we are pulling tickets to sell from different inventories for many different reasons, so having access to this information really allows us to have the ability to know what games we need to package together or which games will sell on their own.
Real time reporting is extremely important for determining your actual sales, which in turn allows you to attempt to forecast your demand. Typically, you can predict on sale demand by the initial day’s sales. My experience has shown that high demand on the first day will allow you to forecast the sales pretty accurately. Typically, you will have around a 50% decline in sales for each day of an on sale until right before the deadline and/or event; then sales will again peak. Historically, in most cases, we will sell out before the event.
While real-time reporting is important, the ability to make this reporting easily accessible among different units is equally important. Wake Forest is in the process of finalizing our Paciolan/Salesforce.com integration that will allow the Business Office, Marketing Department, Sales Team, and Athletic Director’s Office to access real time reporting. This way each department is not relying on an email excel spreadsheet report that can be very time consuming to generate.
It is very impactful to know exactly where you are with sales. It is also very important to have this up-to-date information if you are trying to set up and use a demand-based pricing model.
The technology of being able to have real time reporting at your fingertips is an essential part of projecting sales trends. The technology allows you to make well-informed decisions on future promotions as well as taking advantage of high-demand games to increase revenue through incremental sales and dynamic pricing.
What impact has the rise of mobile ticketing and ticket exchanges had on ticketing operations?
I would say it has had an overall positive one for both the customer and ticket office. Obviously, there is a learning curve for these technologies, but in a world where people like to have things at the tip of their fingers, we need to be able to use this technology to our advantage. The more we can incorporate mobile ticketing and ticket exchanges (and make them easy for our customers) the more our tickets will get used and seats will be filled. This is an area that will continue to grow at a rapid pace as more and more businesses are trying to get a younger crowd engaged earlier and earlier.
Technology has ticket operations trying to keep up with the times. We currently do not allow mobile tickets. We do print-at-home tickets, but keeping up with technology is expensive and we are doing our best move in that direction. Ticket exchanges have allowed us to partner with a secondary market provider, allowing our patrons who cannot attend an event to sell their ticket and recoup their cost, which in turn adds value to the tickets.
Mobile ticketing, ticket exchanges, and online ordering have empowered the consumer and as a result ticket purchasers are no longer reliant on paper applications or back-office phone support. For example a ticket purchaser can order a ticket online, select “print-at-home” as a delivery method, and then forward the emailed ticket to a friend without ever talking to a ticket office team member. This is much more efficient process for the consumer and the ticket-office staff. Also, it cuts down on the opportunity for errors.
Mobile ticketing and exchanges have had a big impact, as both enable you to get tickets to customers faster and in the way that they want them delivered. It also enables buyers to forward tickets to people who will use them, which helps venues with the look of the building and potentially increase sales for concessions, merchandise, parking etc.
As mobile technology continues to be enhanced, purchasing tickets through smart phones will become the norm. We have expanded our offerings this year to include the mobile delivery of tickets. Our students have especially taken advantage of this functionality and a majority of them are now receiving their tickets and scanning through their mobile devices.
What are some of the most important aspects you consider when setting ticket prices?
There are many different aspects to consider when setting ticket prices, some examples are (but not limited to) ticket revenue goals, number of contests, non-conference and conference opponents, and dates of games, any coaching staff changes, the outlook on the current season, and the previous year’s finish. All of these play an important role, and need to be carefully considered when setting prices. Increases affect the customer the most, and if an increase is warranted, it needs to be communicated from the on-sale date, and all parties involved in the sales process need to know why there is an increase and what to communicate.
The most important item to consider in setting prices is your target market (the season ticket buyers) and provide them with the best seats possible, at the best price, and still meet your obligations to pay the bills. Other things to consider are your patrons’ perception of home events in the schedule, as well as patrons’ perception of the team’s potential for success in the upcoming season.
Seating location, opponent, sales history, pricing history, conference pricing trends, and secondary ticket market sales are all considered when we are pricing tickets.
For us, it’s important to not only tier our season tickets but also our packages and single game tickets. For football and men’s basketball packages and single game ticket prices, we have three tiers: value, standard, and premium. With this model we try to have a lower entry point for consumers, but still maximize revenue on higher demand inventory.
Outlook of our team, quality of opponent, and date of game are most important to us.
We look at several different factors when establishing pricing. We conduct extensive research on what comparable schools are charging as well as the perceived value in our own market. The most important factors we look at are market value, affordability, and revenue generation.