Season ticket renewals are dropping fast this season (about 10% below last year), and the Red Sox are reacting with a massive amount of phone calls and offers to try to retain or resell lost season ticket holders (STHs). Leadership and a player are joining staff and interns to call STHs to try to get them to renew. In the article Many Red Sox season-ticket holders fleeing now, the writer interviews STHs and notes how the team didn’t contact several of them either prior to cancellation or afterward.
This rings of a situation where the organization wasn’t proactive in developing relationships, anticipating issues, and launching plans to address the expected concerns. With the team not being “likeable” according to some STHs, losses on the field mounting, and the secondary ticket market drying up, there are few things left which a professional sports team can control that impact renewals. But one of those controllable attributes is relationships with the fan base, and it appears the organization was too reactive, too incomplete, and too misguided to be effective.
In a comment posted on the article, one STH noted that he didn’t get a communication after canceling his tickets ($5,000 for 2 season tickets). However, he did get an e-mail sales offer to buy an upgrade to a suite at $28,000 per seat. So – in effect – the team didn’t care enough about the STH to try to retain, but they thought they could upsell the STH anyway? In a word…crazy. But it’s also all-to-typical in professional sports.
Season ticket retention involves relationship-building, and it requires a long-term mindset. You have to be able to gauge renewal likelihood long before the notices go out. And you have to have a plan to ensure you are contacting those most at-risk of non-renewal. In addition, upsells are easier if you have a strong relationship, if you know your STHs better.
So don’t just wait until the losses mount to tell fans you care. Make it a part of every season, every encounter, every survey, and every business-building strategy.
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