Did you like the new layout and style of the newsletter? Let me know by replying to this email.
New value: Monthly “Ticket Talk” calls focused around a specific topic with some networking, successes and failures, and shared war stories. We will keep them tight.
I want to do the first one Thursday, 6 October at 1 PM Eastern/10 AM Pacific (6 PM in London).
To the Tickets!
I. The Big Story: Premium ticketing is changing:
What’s new: Premium ticket sales and the people buying the premium experience have changed their demands over the years, but too often teams aren’t keeping up.
Why it matters: Premium ticket sales make up a huge part of a team’s non-broadcast revenue. In many places, renewals are becoming more difficult to make and when the sales team is able to make sales to fill the gap, when you crunch the numbers the sales come at a net negative cost to the team.
Have I mentioned that Tony Knopp was the inspiration for this newsletter almost three years ago?
Tony is also one of the most connected people around so when he highlights trends or ideas, I check them out.
Premium seat sales has been an area I’ve been involved in for a long time, going back to when I was in the secondary market daily, partnered with a few concierge programs for major credit cards, and as a consultant I continue to focus on this. And, what Tony is talking about is something I’ve been seeing with my own eyes for years now.
The buyer side wants a few things from teams:
- A better experience for their customers and their employees.
- They want ways to create value for themselves outside of just the ticket to the games or events.
- Buyers are looking for a better way to measure their ROI so that they can justify the continued investment in the tickets.
- Maybe, most importantly, a lot of the corporate buyers want a partner on the venue side: someone they don’t have to train or coach in how to help them maximize value and create value.
In talking with buyers, a lot of what they get is:
- Event spaces and suites that they don’t feel are really “premium”.
- A process of buying, exchanging, or selling their tickets that is needlessly difficult.
- Too many tickets that they can’t use because there is not enough demand.
- “Partners” that are rotating so quickly that they feel like they are always training someone new to handle their account.
Tony’s ideas around churn, incentives, and the secondary market are also completely accurate.
These things bring to mind a few ideas to help here:
- Across industries, the incentives for salespeople are way off. If you are part of an organization that hasn’t looked at its incentive structure around your sales people, take a look at it. Are you incentivizing the right activities or focused on outcomes?
- With customer churn, you need to look at the product you are offering. People are still slow to break away from the full season package, partial plan, or long term contract. Many corporate buyers tell me that they are fine going to the secondary market for tickets because they have so many games where it is difficult to find people to use their tickets.
- As far as the secondary market goes, there are numerous ways to deal with the brokers from a positive and negative standpoint. On the positive side, you can up the incentives and bonuses that are available to folks when they buy direct. Another way is repackaging your premium product to reflect what buyers are looking for today. That will require some market research and doing a proper market segmentation though.
The big key: Premium buyers are buying differently. The job is to go out and figure out what the buyer looks like now.
The data from COVID is pretty frightening because pension funds are dumping office buildings, the number of commuters to city cores is down in many cities, traffic is up in many places, habits have changed, there is more competition, and there are short-term economic concerns.
All of this is a mix that can be toxic or it can be an opportunity to reinvent yourself.
For me, I look at turbulent times as an opportunity.
What about you?
What’s new: Women’s football is having a huge moment in England and to take advantage of the awareness of the Lionness’s win, Trainline is offering a discount to folks going to see women’s football.
Why this matters: Brand purpose doesn’t count unless it costs you money. This is on display with the Trainline promotion. I’d have made a different offer that used phrasing that wasn’t a “discount”, but promoting women’s football, sustainability, and community is still a win for the brand.
This piece matters because having a good transportation partner can do a lot of positive things to help you sell tickets to your shows, games, and events.
In DC, parking anywhere in the general vicinity of Nats Park will set you back $50.
So, I just don’t go. I go to Baltimore to see the Orioles or I crack open my own craft beer and watch on my TV.
The flip side of the expense of parking in DC is that the Metro can close before a game ends in some cases, has an erratic schedule now, and can be confusing if you don’t use it regularly.
I’m sure this is similar to folks in a lot of places.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes.
How can you make their travel more fun or simple?
In South Florida, there is a service called Brightline that makes a stop in Palm Beach, Broward, and downtown Miami. At the destination, they have shuttles to take people to a limited number of destinations near the station using electric shuttles and electric cars.
You can get beer and wine, snacks, and wi-fi on the train and it is fast.
In some cities, you have great subway systems.
In Sydney, you can take a boat to see the Sydney Kings!
Think about transportation as a tool to elevate your guest experience. Start with them and what will make their experience more fun, easier, and more of a no-brainer.
Find The Trainline here!
III. Concepts: The Power Framework:
All strategy is about power.
The idea: The Power Framework recognizes that all strategy is built around power:
- vs. Competition
- vs. Customer
- vs. Suppliers
I learned this framework from Dr. Kamal Munir when I took some strategy work from Cambridge University.
I used it to analyze the Super League competition floated in Europe in 2021. I can’t find the OG article. But I nailed it.
Why do you need to know this? This framework enables you to make sense of the business no matter where you are situated.
- Are you a broker: Your customer is likely the platform. Do you have power in the relationship, balance, or is it one sided the other way?
- A team: What is your competition? Who is your customer, really? How can you regain some of the power you have?
- A performing arts organization: Talent is your supply. How do you deal with this? Have you expanded your customer pool?
How do you use this?
- Think through the three areas. Where are you strong? Weak?
- Think about if you really know your competition? Most businesses don’t.
- Think about your customers. Are you only targeting current customers? Are you making sure to hit new potential customers?
- Look at your suppliers. Who has control?
Let me know if this is something that y’all would be interested in learning more about.
IV. Bullets: Ideas for Selling to Premium Buyers Now:
- Expand your market: market research, segmentation are friends here.
- Value: it isn’t about what you value, but what the customer values.
- New prospecting: A+B > 2A or 2B. Phone crushing alone might not be enough.
- Brand building: Don’t assume everyone knows what you are selling or even cares.
- Product: Change the shape of your product. Some buyers like having to pay for F&B because it adds to the experience when they bring a guest. Some want free F&B because the ticket is a treat.
- Competition: Do you really know your competition?
- Research: When did you last really look at your market?
- Segmentation: What does your market really look like?
- Position: About you? Against the competition? What?
- Differentiation: Why should someone pick you?
SI Tickets expands flat fee program: As we continue to recover from COVID-19’s lockdowns, secondary market platforms are looking for ways to win more market share. SI Tickets expands their $10 flat-rate transaction fees to more payment methods in an effort to drive more people to their platform.
Ticketmaster invests in the Turn Cup system: Ticketmaster’s goal is to displace 1 million single-use cups. That’s a noble ambition and Australians and New Zealanders are definitely leaders in some of these innovations around recycling and environmentally friendly practices. This can also turn into a revenue opportunity for you and save you money. Double win!
Don’t make these assumptions: This is targeted at the arts audience, but everyone can learn a little bit here.
- #4 seems important to me.