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Premium Tickets: Perception + Utility = Opportunity


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I’m doing a webinar with AudienceView about the basics of brand management for ticket sellers. 

June 1, 2023, at 1 PM Eastern! FREE!!!

This is free and we are going to hit on:

  • The 3 questions your brand management must answer.
  • Brand codes: what they are and why they matter.
  • The customer journey. 
  • Tactics.
  • More! 

Join the ‘Talking Tickets’ Slack Channel. We talked about awareness, pricing, and more this week. 

To the Tickets!

I. Sales can take place long before the actual sale happens:

You can also lose a renewal or a sale before you even realize it. 

This is important: Sports teams have lived on long-term premium contracts for a long time. 

It is one of those business models that felt so stable that nothing could ever change.

The thing is: change can happen all at once.

This week’s graphic applies to everyone in certain ways, but it is really about Tony’s example that the conversations on renewals is happening in offices right now and teams don’t even know they aren’t in the conversation. 

4 Quadrants:

  • High perceived value + High utility = Must have.
  • High value + Low utility = Nice to Have
  • High utility + Low value = A Perk
  • Low value + low utility = “Why are We Doing This?”

Both of these factors are within your control. 

You can elevate the level of perceived value. 

You achieve this with:

  • Brand building
  • Showing the impact on sales/relationships from having tickets.
  • Moving the experience from commodity to premium/luxury.

Premium v. Luxury was shared with me this week. 

Premium is a higher price and higher functionality. To me, it is functional and commodity level. 

Luxury transcends basic needs. Which to me is about excellence, elegance, and quality. 

You can also impact the utility of the tickets:

  • Helping people use their tickets with intros to potential partners.
  • Establishing programs that elevate the power of attending a game in person.
  • Creating ways to help your partners use their tickets more effectively.

What is happening with corporate tickets?

  • The utility for a lot of businesses is going down. People’s habits have changed. The perceived value of going to a game isn’t high enough in a lot cases. (That’s poor brand building.) 
  • The perceived value has deteriorated in many buildings with many buyers expecting more from the premium experience. (Premium v. Luxury)
  • More alternatives. (Choice. Again, brand building creates a preference.) 

Next steps:

  • Think about where you fall on the scale.
  • Are you luxury or premium? Is that what your market wants or needs?

P.S. You can learn about relative differentiation by reading my piece from Australia on differentiation in retail here

II. Is the theatre catching up on brand management?

Instagram has helped theatre producers become better brand managers, even if it is likely by accident. 

Does it matter?


Your brand is probably worth somewhere between 30-40% of your business’s valuation. 

What do you need to know about proper brand management?

You have to answer three questions:

  • Who is your target?
  • What is your position?
  • What brand codes are you going to use?

In Howard Sherman’s piece, he talks about how identifiable the stage for Hamilton is…

That’s a brand code. 

You want something to be so identifiable that you can’t mistake it for something else. 

Go outside of the article:

Is the design of the Sydney Opera House not a symbol?

Do you not know this color and the company associated with it?

Wasn’t the knock at the start of a Netflix show something you identified immediately? 

You need to know:

You should have 4-5 symbols, colors, sounds, etc that you use over and over that become synonymous with your show, team, event. 

If you don’t, you are making a brand management 101 mistake. 

This is the basics! 

What those shows on Broadway are doing, getting the basics right…even if it might just be an accident of the rise of Instagram. 

What do you think? 

PS: Focus on meaning, emotion, and connection in your marketing…not just the actress or actor, conductor, or something else. 

III. Why is there not an American Wrexham-type story?

Spoiler: It isn’t incentivized. So these kinds of stories are neglected. 


Yes. In too many instances, the stories that drive games and people’s attachment to their teams are forgotten, discarded, neglected. 

The thread highlights the NFL and college football. 

These are good examples of using narrative, nostalgia, and networks to build a fanbase that is heavily engaged, spending money on merchandise, tickets, and more. 

While also heavily investing their attention in the sport and the team. 

Why is this so?

First, it is hard to tell good stories and to continue to reinvigorate the storytelling process. 

Second, it isn’t the new, shiny technology. 

Three, it is easier to focus on “impressions”, “engagement”, and other easy to measure metrics. 

Can this change?


You need three ingredients:

  • The right incentives. Reward people for telling stories.
  • A long-term view of the brand. When everyone leaves for a new team every few years or turnover is super high, you lose institutional knowledge. 
  • Consistency. This stuff doesn’t take hold in a week or a month. 

P.S. Never say I didn’t give you anything. Here’s a free month of the MLS on Apple TV+

IV. If there is resale, there will always be high prices for “hot” shows:

My problem with the “Hot” show take is that it throws away the responsibility for marketing a show, game, event on “the market”. 

Is there one problem or one solution for tickets? 


What is going on here? Why are we dealing with this now?

  • Digital alone isn’t the full issue, despite what the article says. I know folks at points of sale that would set their clocks back 3-5 minutes to pull a bunch of tickets for brokers before they’d open up the doors for the public. This kind of brokers will find a way thing has been going on forever. 
  • Just stopping the secondary market isn’t going to fix all the problems in the world. For one, the brokers will find a way. For two, the brokers and secondary market often take on risk, provide revenue, and offer distribution in ways that enable the primary sellers to function in a way that they couldn’t without the support of the secondary market. 
  • Technology is a tool. Even when there is a technology solution like True Tickets, it doesn’t stop the partner from using the same poor tactics that created some of the struggles that people are facing when it comes to selling their tickets in general. 

P.S. Matt makes a mean homemade. Garrett is great fun at a game or bar. They both have valid points. 

The bigger issue is to look at what is going on like Matt’s hypothesis of tickets being broken from the sale to the entry. Or, Garrett’s hypothesis that there will always be high prices on hot shows without limiting resale. 

Both have validity. 

But are they really hitting the key points? 

That’s my question to y’all. 

P.P.S: Maybe I’ll invite them both on the podcast to verbally duke it out?! 

Don’t forget the World Ticket Conference in Nashville in July

V. Links:

Chelsea freezes prices for next season

What is going to be interesting here is what the review of ticket strategy and concessions will look like. 

I had one of the most fun days I’ve had watching sports when I went to Stamford Bridge in 2022. 

I sat with Chelsea STHs that have had the tickets in the family for almost 100 years. 

What a way to experience the match. 

UK Government rejects CMA’s advice on secondary ticketing

This is a more hand’s off approach than has been typical in the UK. 

Hollywood’s writers’ strike has a lot in common with tickets

Consolidation of power has hurt content producers, small businesses, and innovation. 

Linktree: Find everything I’m up to.

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