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How Teams Are Using Technology to Increase Ticket Sales

Companies like the Aspire Group and Semcasting provide teams with in-depth information, which has helped organizations increase ticket sales.

Bailey Knecht

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Beyond wins and losses, sports organizations have lofty goals, particularly when it comes to ticket sales. Teams are constantly working to build a loyal fan base and increase attendance, so to address this challenge, many have begun outsourcing to tech companies that help them expand their reach.

One of those teams is the Dallas Mavericks, who work with Semcasting, a data-as-a-service company that creates predictive models for potential customers.

“We are a compiler of databases,” explained Geetha Neelakantiah, vice president of business development and partnerships for Semcasting. “Some is public information we’re pulling in, some is survey information, some is a variety of governmental agencies that make the data public. What we do is we add our smarts because we have the tools to create inferences based on income and other data elements.”

Those inferences help develop a 360-degree view of the customers to analyze the best way to market to them.

Semcasting builds profiles by taking into consideration fans’ income, home values, interests and distance to the arena. The company also addresses Customer Trade Areas using Mobile Footprints, by mapping smartphone signals and identifying patterns and “hot spots” in the fan base.

SEE MORE: How Teams Can Use Social Video Franchises to Tell Unique Stories 

“Knowing who’s attending an event or game or retail location and finding them and identifying who they are, marketers are able to provide better programming to them so next time they come, it could be catered to those coming to the event so it’s more customized,” said Neelakantiah.

The Aspire Group is another organization that works with teams to optimize ticket sales and fan experience. According to Bill Fagan, chief operating officer for the Aspire Group, the main goal in ticket marketing is to retain fans.

“If we’re losing existing fans, ticket holders or donors or whoever, then we’re never going to grow,” Fagan said. “It’s very challenging to acquire new fans. Analytics indicate that if you’re not retaining at least 85 percent of your fans, you won’t get back to your previous year’s total.”

Finding and retaining fans is particularly important for teams that may be struggling to earn wins, Fagan said.

“Hope is not a strategy, and winning is not a strategy,” he said. “You can’t just hope that team is going to turn it around. You have to work twice as hard to retain people and make sure you don’t lose them. There’s nothing more important than taking care of the people that are attending.”

In order to preserve those existing fans, as well as identify potential new fans, the Aspire Group uses a variety of tactics, ranging from conducting surveys to utilizing data aggregation technologies.

That technology is what allows organizations to draw conclusions based on existing information.

“What marketers are attempting to find is lookalikes,” Fagan said. “They say, ‘Here’s what our average fan looks like in their demographic and behaviors. Let’s find other people that behave in similar ways.’”

“Knowing that information — how often a person purchased with their demographic — helps identify other individuals,” Neelakantiah added. “It does give us more information about how a sports team is able to develop different marketing programs and increase sales on different segments.”

LISTEN: Rob Perez’s Journey From Ticketing Entrepreneur to NBA Personality 

In order for the team to deliver customized advertising to specific audiences, organizations like Semcasting aim to access the “unknown fan” — someone who has attended a game or visited the team website, but isn’t a regular buyer — an ideal customer for the team to zero in on. Once data is used to nail down the demographics of the “unknown fans,” advertising can be specially targeted to fit their needs and hopefully turn them into regulars.

According to a testimonial from Veronica Cantu, director of sales marketing with the Mavericks, the partnership with Semcasting has been beneficial.

“Thanks to Semcasting, we now have a deeper understanding of our fan base and clearer solutions on how to customize and optimize our engagement with them,” she said. “When our fans buy single tickets, season tickets or simply visit our website, Semcasting has helped us discern who those unknown fans are and where they spend their time, both online and offline.”

With the help of Semcasting, the Mavericks saw a 380 percent return on investment, based on a $25.30 cost per acquisition.

Looking ahead, Semcasting hopes to tie it all together by identifying the most effective forms of marketing, using attribution to connect sales back to the relevant marketing channel.

In a broader sense, the next step for data analysis companies is making fan identification resources more universally affordable and available, particularly for smaller market organizations with less manpower, according to Fagan.

“The challenge for entertainment properties is getting the right ROI,” he said. “Unfortunately, the resources might not be available to invest in the technologies, so there is an increased demand for third party, technologically-based affordable solutions… That’s where we put our heads, which is servicing the entire world of live event ticketing and understanding that an empty seat is a cancer to the brand.”

Bailey Knecht is a Northeastern University graduate and has worked for New Balance, the Boston Bruins and the Northeastern and UMass Lowell athletic departments. She covers media and marketing for Front Office Sports, with an emphasis on women's sports and basketball. She can be contacted at bailey@frntofficesport.com.

Ticket Sales

Inside The Huddle: Membership Programs with Aaron Lampkin

Seattle Sounders FC’s Director of Ticket Sales shares his insights on breaking into and succeeding within the sports industry.

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In the buildup to Front Office Sports’ Ticketing Huddle at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 10, we’re introducing you to the huddle leaders who will be lending their expertise to the conversation.

Today, meet Aaron Lampkin, Director of Ticket Sales with Seattle Sounders FC. A Spokane, Washington native, Lampkin graduated from Johnson and Wales University in Denver where he was also a basketball student-athlete. There, Lampkin first realized his desire to turn his passion for sports into a career.

“I realized my junior year of college that my time playing basketball was pretty much over. When I started to think about career options, I wanted to be in a situation where I control my destiny. In sales, you definitely can and having a background made it a little bit more my cup of tea to sell sports.”

After graduation, Lampkin interned with the Colorado Rapids, which is a part of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment. Lampkin utilized his time as an intern to learn as much as he could and make a positive impression in hopes of landing a full-time job.

“The Rapids didn’t have an inside sales training program at the time. So I put 15 minutes on my calendar with every single department head, discussed my career goals and how I was going to attain those, and basically said if there’s a full-time opportunity, I want to at least be in consideration.”

Lampkin was then hired as a sales rep for Kroenke Sports and Entertainment before working in membership services specifically for the Colorado Avalanche (another Kroenke entity) for nearly five years, including two as the team’s manager of membership services.

“I really wanted to just prove and show that I could teach value better than anybody else regardless of position and just because your position doesn’t really limit what you can do on the sales side,” he says. “I want to teach people to be the strongest in their routine and in bringing in new business. My teams embody that.”

Lampkin came to the Sounders in June of 2018. As a sales director, Lampkin takes great pride in managing young reps for advancement. Reps that Lampkin has trained have moved onto management positions in the NFL, NBA and other major sports leagues. This is a point of great personal pride for him. Conversely, with several years of teaching under his belt, Lampkin says the biggest mistake he sees young reps make is giving up before realizing their potential.

The thing that hurts me the most is knowing that we do have reps who have potential to be extraordinary that are early in the learning process and/or they want that promotion tomorrow instead of focusing on the process and perfecting their craft,” he says. “It limits their overall growth. I see reps give up too early and not see the vision fully through [rather] than spending time to understand their why.”

In order to take the first big step in their career, Lampkin advises young reps to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack that is getting more competitive by the day.

“Be proactive in interviews or conversations,” he says. “Get to know reps and managers and directors and the industry of what they’ve done to be successful. I would tell anybody who’s looking to get into the industry to start early because there are hundreds of applications that come in for every opening. If you can differentiate yourself before an interview starts, you have a much higher chance.”

Meet Aaron and hear more of his thoughts on the current ticketing space at the Front Office Sports Ticketing Huddle at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, CA on May 10. For tickets and additional info, click here.

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Ticket Sales

Giants Search for Ways to Weather Attendance Dip

The team, which finished third or fourth in attendance each of the last eight seasons, currently finds itself 13th in the league.

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Photo Credit: Cody Glenn-USA TODAY Sports

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else. 

From 2010 through 2014, the San Francisco Giants were dominant on the field, scooping up three World Series victories in five seasons. Since then, the team has only made the playoffs once in the last four years.

Boasting a seven-year sellout streak until 2017, the team is now looking at new ways to keep fans engaged with an on-field product that hasn’t lived up to expectations set by past success, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

What do you need to know?

1. The team, which finished 3rd or 4th in attendance each of the last eight seasons, currently finds itself 13th in the league.

2. One of the changes includes having weekday games start at 6:45 p.m. instead of 7:15 p.m., giving fans the opportunity to be home earlier during the week.

3. Another change includes forgoing the annual hike in season-ticket prices this season.

4. In an effort to improve the fan experience in the venue, the team unveiled a new $10 million scoreboard this season. At over 150-feet-by-70-feet, it is the third-largest in the league.

Focus groups prove successful…

After another poor on-field performance last year, the team turned to focus groups to make sure they were getting a pulse on their 30,000 season ticket holders. Hosting 10 of these focus groups after the season, many of the strategies implemented this season have come as a direct result of those groups.

The biggest, according to Schulman, was the team reducing their season-ticket base by 2,500 by limiting sales to legal ticket brokers. The goal? Give season-ticket holders the chance to get more money for their tickets on the secondary market.

“We need to learn as much as we can from them so we can be selling more of what the customer wants and not what we want to sell.” – Russ Stanley, the Giants’ managing vice president of ticket sales and services, to Schulman about the benefits of the groups.

Is it all bad?

While the total butts in seats might not be ideal for the team, there are other metrics that ownership is likely very pleased with.

For one, according to Forbes, the team, now valued at $3 billion, is the fifth-most valuable team in Major League Baseball.

The team has also done a good job at maximizing the fans it has when it comes to revenue opportunities. According to the same Forbes report, the Giants make $183 in revenue per fan, far and away the most in the league. The next closest? The Red Sox at $105 per fan.

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Ticket Sales

Meet the #Rising25: Andrew DiMario of Austin FC

Meet Andrew DiMario, Manager of Sales at Austin FC. A 2016 Ohio Northern University graduate, DiMario is racking up accomplishments in ticket sales.

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The #Rising25 class of 2019, presented by AB InBev, represents some of the brightest young professionals in the sports industry. Over the next several weeks, we’re proud to introduce you to this year’s winners and highlight some of their achievements to date.

Today, meet Andrew DiMario, Manager of Sales at Austin FC.

A 2016 graduate of Ohio Northern University, DiMario worked in temporary positions with the Cleveland Indians and Dayton Dragons during his time as a student while also playing college football. Shortly after graduation, DiMario spent a year as an Account Executive at IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions in San Antonio, where he generated $558,957 in sales.

READ MORE: Meet the #Rising25: Adam Johnson of ISM Raceway

DiMario fell in love with sports and its competitive nature at a young age. By the time he reached college, there was no question he wanted to work within the sports industry in some capacity.

“For me, it was exactly what I wanted to do, so I went after it. I was all in, there was no other option,” DiMario says of his decision to pursue a career in sports. “I knew and set my goals early on, and I feel like that dedicated focus allowed me to translate everything I learned as a student-athlete into big accomplishments early in my professional career.”

Following his time in San Antonio, DiMario returned home to Ohio to become Manager of Inside Sales for the Columbus Crew SC, where he helped his department exceed their new season membership goal by 137% in 2017. DiMario was the leader of the sales team in Columbus, which enabled him to help fifteen different reps reach higher-ranking positions either within the Crew or with different sports organizations, an achievement DiMario takes a great amount of pride in.

Then, in January of 2019, the Crew’s ownership group at the time asked DiMario to return to Texas to start a position with Austin FC in effort to build the foundation for the newest team in the MLS. The club will play its first match in 2021.

DiMario prides himself on being a sponge. With each personal or professional encounter, DiMario tries to gain a better understanding of the human condition, which in turn makes him an effective leader of people and better sales professional.

“From a learning and development standpoint, I try to absorb as much as I can from as many different people as I can,” he says. “It helps you gain a better understanding of other people’s perspectives and ideas. You can learn something from everyone in this business, regardless of their rank or position. I learn something each day from my own staff.”

READ MORE: Rising 25 Class of 2019

Up to this point, DiMario has achieved success through a high level of dedication, consistency, and unrivaled work ethic. His advice to the next generation of sports business professionals is to exhibit the same type of determination day in and day out.

“Make it obvious. I try to instill that motto into every rep that I work with. If you make it obvious that you are working hard, continuing to develop, and putting up numbers, then at the end of the day, managers or supervisors will have no choice but to promote you or recognize your work. I’ve always strived to leave no doubt in people’s minds that I’m doing the job at the highest level, making a significant impact. You may only get one opportunity in this industry, take advantage of it.”

Meet the full class of 2019 here.

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