About 3 years ago, teams and entertainment venues started jumping on the bandwagon to have their members be part of a “Rewards” system. The hype and selling point was that the airlines did it and so, of course, everyone would love it. But has that been the case?
I have worked with teams and entertainment venues that have used the system from one extreme to another. One team, such as the NY Red Bulls, wisely supplements their usual appreciation and kindnesses to their members with a perks system. The system is not the answer; rather, it is an offer to their members to get additional perks. They do not forget that a season ticket member gift when renewing goes a long way, their retention group is there to help their members—need to use tickets for a different game? No problem…we will help you. We will not make you go online and go through a perks process. I am here…for YOU!
Other teams are at the other end of the spectrum. Need to exchange tickets? Go online and use it for the games we tell you you can use it for. Missed your bobblehead? Go online and order one from your perks. Want a certain item? Be in a lottery and hope you get it. Is this appreciating your most valued client? Meanwhile, what DO they help the client with? Most of their time is spent explaining how to navigate the Rewards System!
Reward systems offer great opportunities for members to get additional gifts. They are not the problem. How we utilize them is. Most venues have a retention team. Their job is…well, to retain! Surprise, huh? Yet when we are not using a reward system wisely, what do we have our retention people doing? Explaining why they can’t help you…go online, ‘you need to’, ‘it’s in the system, we can’t do it…you’ll have to go online and go through your perks’, etc. etc. etc. I’ve listened to retention teams who have to spend their days explaining why they can’t do something rather than saying, ‘let me help you.’ What we are doing is asking people to not only pay an often high price for their tickets, but now we are asking them to do our work, too. Is it any wonder the client gets frustrated and our poor retention staff gets a lot of angry people? We task our retention team with goals of 90-95-100% retention, but what are WE doing as a business to let them do their job to help make the client want to return?
Let’s reevaluate our member system:
Define the purpose of your retention team. Retaining a client is not the easiest thing to do. There is never a guarantee they are returning. We know that a certain number of in person visits throughout the year (in season and off season) increases the chances of returning. We know that the unexpected ways of appreciation increases the chances of retention. We know that certain touchpoints during the year increase the chances of retention. But one thing we tend to overlook is actually empowering the retention staff to help the clients by not making them hang up and go online. Your retention staff is one of the most crucial members of the team. The sales rep sells it, and, if sold based on needs, that is a step in the right direction for retaining. The retention rep then needs to make sure the package and experience are meeting those needs. More, the member needs to have that relationship built with their retention rep just as they did with their sales rep. They are there for the client.
Define the purpose of your Rewards System. Was your purpose in joining it to be the ‘end all’ for retention? Did you want it to do all the rewards for your members, thus not empowering your retention reps to be able to put that smile on their clients face? Did you feel that going online for the whole process takes it off your hands and makes it ‘easier?’ Or did you enroll in it as a supplement to an already existing retention team that has the ability to help their members even if they could do it online? Or more, did you view it as the way to take the more frequent requests that take up a lot of the day off your reps plate, and free them up for helping the members in other ways? Want extra bobbleheads? For that you can go online at your leisure and order from your points. Want an autographed ball? Your points will get you some of those. Or do you use your reward system for absolutely everything or more, as mostly auction only, which, from what members across teams have told me frustrate them to no end?
Is your system easy to use or are you making them work? They already paid for their tickets. For a working fan, asking them to use their points for a perk in a certain timeframe of the day, or try to get the ‘prime’ perk only between 9:00 am and till they run out is definitely not a customer friendly “I appreciate you” way to do it. Many of our members work, some are doctors, some are lawyers, some are teachers…it’s not like they can say “hold on resuscitating that patient…I have to go online and see if I can get my xxx”. Sound silly? Maybe…but it happens in more venues than we realize. Is this a way we expect to retain members?
Do you manage your members by showing appreciation in season along with a perks system? Some teams give a gift if they renew by a certain time, and some give a gift during the season when it’s least expected. The fact is, they give them a gift. They say ‘you are valued.’ It says “I care about you being part of our family.” Then they also have the Rewards System. And they use it for extra things a member might want, where they can go online in their leisure and shop; not putting prime gifts on the system, making them fight over them, and putting them in the worst possible hours for members to try to get. By utilizing both ways in a smarter manner, you actually empower your staff to help your clients more, let the strengthen the relationships, and lets them help the clients if they have challenges. Your retention rep should be the superhero…the ones who can make most miracles happen that your clients rave about and consequently, bring their friends aboard. THIS is what people will remember about your business.
What have been some of your experiences in being a member of a Rewards System? How can we, as teams and entertainment venues, utilize them better? Please share! This is a most important part of our business!
Kathy Burrows, SOS…Sold Out Seating
See YOU at ALSD in Miami in July! I will be at the Sales Bootcamp as well as a workshop on usage of space and unique ideas to sell at The Broward Center! If you haven’t signed up…better do it quickly! Also at The Revenue Workshop in Sacramento at The Rivercats the first week of August… sportsrevenueworkshop.com
For assessment of space, next level sales training, 6 month Sales Workshop via web, 3 month Leadership Workshop via web: firstname.lastname@example.org
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