I love hearing ticket sales executives talking fan relations, promoting season ticket holder (STH) retention. Maybe 15-20 years ago in most major sports, fan relations was simply customer service or a function of the box office. Retention didn’t matter so much because for every STH lost there was one on the waiting list. Or even if there wasn’t one on the waiting list, the bonuses to the sales reps were better if they got a new account than if they renewed the one they already had; seem backward? Welcome to professional sports – we want to ring the bell, make the sale, close the deal. Marketing and Sales are sexy. Customer service is…well…serving others. Not so sexy.
Now fast forward to today. In a recent Sports Business Daily article, Todd Taylor of the Texas Rangers is highlighted as one of the “40 Under 40.” He’s the new executive vice president of ticket sales and marketing for the team. He is interviewed about his successes previously with the Milwaukee Brewers, and this modern day ticket sales exec talks about what? He says “The important thing was to stay very fan-focused and put a big emphasis on fan retention. We knew early on, for example, that we were not going to have a big bump in new sales after we got CC Sabathia and went to the playoffs [in 2008]. So we put our energies very strongly into retention and fan experience.”
Nice. And the decision is based on simple math. If you have $50 million of ticket sales revenue each year, if you can retain 90% v. 80% of that revenue, that’s 10% additional (or $5 million) saved from last year’s STHs that your Sales/Marketing gurus don’t have to find in new business just to offset the losses.
So how much revenue is your customer worth in one year? How much more revenue could your organization earn by retaining 1%, 5%, 10%, 20% more of that revenue year-to-year?
Put a number on it. Put that number in front of your Marketing, Sales, Financial, and Operational Executives.
Then tell them that it’s not just about making raving fans…it’s about keeping them.
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