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Creating An Up-Selling Online Ticket Sales Strategy

The Tampa Bay Rays’ online ticketing strategy has developed a lot of conversation about how to best block out seats, or upsell, in the digital age. That scenario has criticism from those seeking to merely purchase the best seats at a single game price against those initiatives of franchise executives attempting to push longer-term customer ticket buys in the best locations.

This is not a new discussion.

How exactly can sports executives provoke longer-term buys when a prospective customer uses an online portal to purchase the ticket product?

Consider the outset of why a ticket sales department feels the need to discourage single game buyers from receiving the ability to purchase the best product online. The majority of those customers cannot be up-sold, through phone conversation tactics of breaking down arguments by ticket sales agents. Requiring customers to call in for the best seats allows an entire ticket sales department to offer up a wide variety of product offerings. It also leaves each ticket sales rep with a monopoly on the best locations. If a customer wants to sit in those locations, they have to buy in at a long-term product.

One of the advents of the variable or dynamic pricing model is that it shows what customers are willing to pay for the single game product. Especially when they believe that a game is worth more than other games on the schedule. But, is that all it shows? Dynamic pricing doesn’t promote consumer solutions toward a longer-term ticket plan. It just charges more by claiming to affix a demand offer to the ticket price. Without showing the customer how they can benefit by purchasing a longer-term ticket buy in order to receive a reduced price.

Customers do not purchase tickets or anything as they did a decade ago. Yet, the stubborn idea from sports executives is to provoke more phone sales. It disregards the fact that the majority of habits shown by customers buying tickets are pushing in the opposite direction. Consider the way that customers purchase airline tickets. No one calls a ticket sales agent, travel agent, or the airline. That model is dead. The majority of airline tickets are purchased through online portals, where users can have three web browsers open simultaneously, trying to receive the best timed flights at the lower price with improved seating locations.

An online ticket sales strategy that merely blocks off the best seats doesn’t provoke a true solution. It instead shows a misunderstanding of what can be do via online sales, in order to show benefits to a customer buying a longer-term ticket package.

Let me offer two scenarios as solutions:

When a customer goes to purchase a seat for a specific game through the online ticket portal, they are provided with a price for that seat. However, before purchasing, they should have the option to lower the price by increasing the amount of games that they are willing to buy for. Consider what we currently do not tell any customer online about the ticket purchase because franchise executives treat those sales as if they are expected to be one-off buys. When a customer selects a ticket to a game, there isn’t a bracket within the buying sphere that shows a differential of purchasing that seat for one game or as a mini-pack.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Section 103 – Row A – $35 (Single) – $25 (8-Game Option) – $19 (20-Game Option)

When the buyer sees that ticket purchase in this format, with the ability to purchase multiple games to lower the price overall, they see the actual value in selecting seats for a longer-term period of multiple games. Imagine the ability to create a check-mark quick-buy purchasing system of every upcoming game for the season for that specific seat, all during that same purchase.

Here is another solution:

What about specific seating sections that are designated as season, mini-pack or single game areas?

Specifically, create sections of the venue where single game buyers can purchase into, but by doing so, they pay a penalty for only buying for one-game, rather than the amount of games required.

Mini-Pack Section
Section 103 – Row A – $45 (Single) – $35 (8-Game Option) – $29 (20-Game Option)

Season Section
Section 104 – Row A – $135 (Single) – $250 (Half-Season) – $449 (Season)

Let’s suggest that there is a penalty for purchasing those seats if you are unwilling to pay a long-term purchase price. Such as a 20% higher tax on a seat designated as a mini-pack section if the buyer only purchases for one game. Or a 40% higher tax on a seat designed in a season ticket holder section if the buyer only purchases for one game or many, but not the full season.

This not only recoups the amount of revenue that the team feels it is losing, but also provokes customers to make buying decisions on the penalties that they may incur by not purchasing at specific terms. This is exactly what airlines do when they restrict aisle seats, or seats closer to first class. The better the seat, the increase in cost via taxation occurs.

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