The Fan Engagement Conference on September 7 attracted the key international influencers from across the sector for a day of relaxed but informative debate and networking that zoned in on some of the industry’s key talking points.
In this special edition of Calling the Shots, the key takeaways from each speaker can be found below within the round-ups for all 12 sessions that took place on the packed schedule.
The next edition of Calling the Shots will return in October, but before then, there are only a few places left for Premier Sports Network’s next event, The Player Care Conference, on October 11 at the Dorchester Collection Hotel in Mayfair
‘THE TICKETING EXPERIENCE SHOULD BE ASPIRATIONAL’
Sport is finally following other industries by shifting over to a paperless approach to ticketing, but the upselling options and aspirational tone of the experience should not be ignored, according to a panel of experts spanning football, horse racing and rugby union.
Richard Harris, Head of Ticketing at the RFU, outlined how ticketing often serves as the first point of contact with a fan, and therefore should form part of the marketing and communications strategy.
“We’re looking at a number of things over the next 18 months,” Harris said.
“About 60 to 70 per cent use contactless payments, but it’s about finding the right technology. When purchasing something from England Rugby, you want to do it in a way that isn’t invasive.
“With hospitality sales, we are taking things in house as there has in the past been 500 different ways of buying in. This will also allow us to collect as much data as we can.”
Data was again the key word as Tom Rowell, Hull City FC’s Marketing, Communications and Ticketing Manager, explained the club’s shift towards paperless ticketing.
“The technology has been there for a while, but now clubs are moving across to it,” he said. “We have membership cards that can be scanned at the turnstile and we can upload cup games onto the cards, so we just post it out once, and that’s that.
“When someone books a ticket, we currently email them the confirmation with information about other activities and upselling opportunities.
“We want the data and because we don’t have enough turnstiles to manage a late flow of people walking up to buy tickets on the day, we are trying to get the fans to change their behaviour slightly.
“We have two-year plan to become a cashless stadium and the owners are very keen on that, but the next step would be to get an app as it’s currently all through the club’s website.”
Jockey Club Racecourses CEO Paul Fisher said that having tangible data to offer to partners and sponsors is becoming increasingly important.
“It allows us to personalise messages,” he said.
Fisher acknowledged that horse racing had in the past been “slightly behind the curve” when it came to exploring opportunities through ticketing, but added that the outlook had changed for the better.
“We see it as the first interaction with the customer and therefore it should be aspirational if the ticket drops through your letterbox,” he said.
“Over the last couple of years, we’ve been experimenting with variable pricing – something industries like the airline sector have been doing for some time.
“With a music night, which we know will sell out, we can put a couple of quid on the usual ticket price. All of the income we generate is reinvested into the sport.
“However, it’s not all about maximising revenue. We let kids in for free. It’s important to think about the long term.”
Harris echoed those thoughts in his conclusion by saying: “If you don’t have a full stadium, it cuts away at everything else you try to do – reputationally, commercially and so on. It’s got to be full.
“It’s not about offering discounts; it’s about getting your prices right in the first place, but a lot of clubs still focus on revenue.”