Whether your stadium seats 3,000 or 300, you can increase attendance and generate additional revenue through advance ticket packages.
These packages are actually set up in easiest to most difficult to execute but we recommend, if you want to start slowly and build up to bigger projects, that you actually consider the advanced or intermediate levels first. They are good testing grounds for fan interest without investing revenue in a ticketing system.
One of the best ways to reward loyal fans is with season ticket packages. Generally, a full season ticket package is offered at a discounted rate of 20% off the gate plus the first right of refusal on all playoff and championship tickets.
If your stadium does not have assigned seating, you can still sell season tickets. You just need to maintain a tally so that you don’t oversell the park and undercut your general revenue as a result. We recommend limiting season tickets to no more than 30% of your regular attendance numbers in your first year.
This is for a few reasons. First, you don’t want to block your walk up customers from coming in by being sold out. You also want the full price for the tickets whenever you can get it. Finally, season tickets should be seen as having a value above the discounts and incentives. It should also create a feeling of belonging to a special community. Limiting availability is one way to do this. Another is with season ticket holder events such as a practice day, or autograph event, with the team. These perks are easy to set up, cost you nothing and provide a value-add that encourages others to engage in the program.
Half Season Tickets
Many dedicated fans come regularly to games but do not attend all of them. Summer offers too many incentives – BBQs, lakes, parties – to expect even the most dedicated fan in attendance at every game. The half season ticket is a compromise that can work to your advantage and theirs.
Fans pick the games they’d like to attend in the season and buy those tickets in advance. They receive a smaller discount, usually 15%, and then they have second right of refusal, behind the full season ticket holders, for playoff and championship games. They too get invited to attend one of the special events for season ticket holders, usually a fan appreciation day, but not all of them.
Not all of your hometown printers will be set up for ticket printing. It can require special equipment. If your regular vendor can’t handle the job, check with your neighboring local sports franchises, for example the soccer or rugby team, for a recommendation. Chances are, if you come recommended by one of their regular customers you’ll not only get a great deal but you might also earn your fellow sports franchise a bonus rate on their printing deal. What better way to pay back a neighbor for their kindness!
Another option is to check in with your local university. If they have regular large-attendance sporting events they may own their own ticketing system. Perhaps you can pay for paper and ink in trade with a sponsorship or promotion for the university at the ballpark. Student discount offers also generally go a long way.
Add an incentive strip of tickets into the ticket package. Examples include a free hot dog at concessions, 10% off a merchandise purchase and a free coffee. These are small things that will cost you little but the good will means a great deal, in terms of ticket holder perks.
A great way to sell people on purchasing season tickets is that they have the tickets already in-hand so, if they want they can give them as gifts to clients or relatives. It is also a great way to let their kids attend without giving them a lot of cash to lose track of on their way to and from the park.
A great warm-up to season tickets is the coupon book. These will easily be your best moneymakers once you get the process down. They require the least amount of staff work while providing the greatest revenue benefit.
The coupon book is generally printed with 10 coupons to a game. The purchaser can use all 10 coupons at once, 1 at a time or any amount they like in between. A group of three friends, for example, could purchase a book and attend one game together and two games by themselves if they like with a ticket left over for someone to bring a friend.
If your stadium is 100% assigned seating, these can be tricky, but not impossible, to offer. We recommend blocking off a rarely filled section and making that the coupon book seating area. If you offer different pricing for different areas, consider where your best break-even point is between fan desire to sit in a section, and reasonably priced ticket, and you’ve found your sweet spot for seating folks with coupons.
The books are printed in advance and sold generally at a small discount, 5-10% off the gate price. There are no other benefits offered. The flexibility of use is the biggest benefit. They make great gift ideas for birthdays, anniversaries, retirements and holidays. Many people buy them for their family members and never attend a game themselves. These are a super easy sell on university campuses and to businesses. Some teams do include one or two coupons for merchandise or concessions discounts in the booklet as well.
Though they are called a family pack, and marketed to folks with kids, anyone can buy and use a family 4-pack. Included in the package are: 4 general admission game tickets, 4 coupons for a hot dog and 4 coupons for a drink. It’s the idea of “dinner and a game” for the whole family. The packages usually cost between 10-20% less than full price and the events are held on special days a few times a season. The dates are pre-selected by the team and tickets must be purchased in advance so that your concessions is well-stocked.
You don’t have to be a family to buy or use these packages but families find them a great value. They are the perfect incentive to encourage parents to the park before their kids are ready to play the game. Gain a fan earlier in their lives and the revenue they will create for your team over time is greater. Show a kid how much fun it is to be at the park and they’ll want to join the youth program in hopes of one day being like their idol on the field.
If you have a team mascot, we recommend they make a visit to the family four-pack section of the stadium during those events. The kids will love it and the parents will appreciate the family-friendly atmosphere. Have a special concession booth directly outside the immediate seating area set up at kid height. This allows kids a bit of independence to get their own food with their coupons and it keeps the overflow of foot traffic for the event out of the way of your normal concession area.
How To Sell
Most teams in Europe are reliant on volunteers. Here’s a project you can all do together. We recommend setting up a few dates in the off-season where you have sales open. One week for your first try should be plenty if you advertise in advance.
Send out an email to your fan list two weeks ahead with the details. If you have a complex that is used regularly, put up posters on the bulletin boards and print up take away flyers with details on how to submit an order online. The flyer should also include the dates, times and phone number for fans to reach a person to discuss the packages.
For the week of sales set up a lunch break crew – open between 11:00-14:00 and an evening crew – from 16:00-20:00, to take calls at the team offices or anywhere you have access to multiple phone lines and computers.
Have two volunteers or staff answering calls during this time and two making calls. Contact anyone whose number the team has but also expand to the white pages of your local area. Cold calling isn’t for everyone but it is a necessity of the process so get some folks who are seasoned to help get things started. Switch duties midway through the hours to give folks a chance to answer calls or send emails rather than just cold calling.
Have a single point person for all the orders on a shift. When an order is completed, give the documentation to the point person to complete the process and record the transaction into a single spreadsheet or accounting system to avoid duplicate entries. This person should block seats on a seating chart (manual or electronic) so no one double sells a seat.
Get the coach or a local player involved if they like. It’s always great when a celebrity answers the phone! You can also give them the list of folks who buy seats and they can call them another time, thanking them for becoming a valuable member of the team!
No matter the pre-sale method you try they will all create a very special benefit to the club. They are guaranteed revenue whether the person actually attends the game or not. Let’s say you live somewhere that has temperamental weather both in spring and fall. This is a way to guarantee money for those games that you’ll hold but few will attend.
It is also an opportunity for you to begin attendance tallies. This will help your team plan better for promotional events down the line. It can, for example, help you know which games to invite sponsors to see because you’ll have a history of the times of year, or special events, that bring more fans to the park.
Remember, a ticket sold is sold, whether the fan is there or not. At night’s end, when the ticket stubs are being counted, you can include those season ticket package numbers that never showed. How does this help your team? Let’s say your regular game attendance is 200 right now. This off-season you sell 100 full season tickets. During a game you sell an additional 150 tickets regularly. You have just increased your regular game attendance by 50 tickets/game. Over the course of a season, that adds up to more concessions as well as merchandise revenue.
That is another bonus to consider. When you have a person who comes to the games regularly they always come with a certain amount of pocket change to spend on food and merchandise. If they generally buy their ticket at the door, but become season ticket holders, the amount they carry on them is unlikely to go down. It is their habit now and that is not likely to change. They’ll now go home with money in their pocket most weeks. Some weeks however, they’ll decide they’ve “saved” plenty between the ticket discount, and incentives it offers, and they’ll overspend on merchandise, concessions or, maybe even treat a friend to a game. This is how the revenue savings will begin to pay off for the team as the season progresses.
There you have it, three ways to increase ticket revenue in the off-season. Let us know if you have any in-depth questions on execution and keep us abreast of how your sales efforts pay off!