The past couple of months the majority of questions I have been asked for assistance with has centered around season ticket holders and renewing. We tend to send out invoices, then call, call, call. And continue to call and send emails when people don’t renew. Is this the process we really want to follow?
A season ticket holder is your most passionate fan. They are generally the ones who follow you through ups and downs. But even they have a boiling point. How many times have I heard from a season ticket holder that they are tired of being connected with only at renewal time? Is this building a relationship or managing numbers?
Let’s look at our clients. They are our paycheck. They are the reason we are there. Their presence helps energize the product on the court/field/ice/racetrack. And yet we send them an impersonal renewal and then call, call, call for their money.
I have a list of ways to develop that season ticket relationship, but for now, let’s concentrate on 5 of them:
How many in person touch points do you have both in season and out of season? Most of us run around and visit season ticket holders in season but rarely see them out of season. Who are your top clients? Do you have coffee/lunch with them in the off season? Do you nurture that relationship or assume it will continue? Touch points out of season are even more important than out of season…out of sight, out of mind.
What is your renewal plan? Have you shared it with your season ticket holders? We send out renewals and tell them a deadline, then call, call, call and email even more. Instead, why don’t we have a strategy in place that we share with the season ticket holder…and let them choose which cycle they want to renew in? For instance, the first cycle can be to renew at a discount within a specified time, a gift, or added value. This will satisfy those who are price conscious or looking for the best deal, and will feel the most valued. The second cycle can be for a lesser discount or a smaller perk. The last cycle has no discount and is simply a renewal. Many businesses will not care about a discount, but rather care about the cycle it falls in for them to pay. Sending your strategy out prior to the renewal will enable the season ticket holder to pick their plan for renewal and let them feel empowered to make that decision. Choosing their path to renewal vs being told to renew will let the season ticket holder feel more a part of the process.
What is your process for follow up? Call and email? Finding no response to either? Then why do we continue to do it? Once the last cutoff date has happened, follow through with a preplanned process. A clever picture email, a video from a player, a picture of your team sitting around an empty seat, pointing to it and saying ‘we sure will miss you this year’ can go a lot further than those calls and traditional emails. Brainstorm and have a plan in place before the renewal process even begins.
Release seats if you say you will…but send them a notice that they are. Did you give a cutoff date in which the seats will be released? There will be pain and agony but at some point you will have to do that. Waiting till the season opens should not be an option, and really tells those who followed the process that they really didn’t have to. I had a doctor once who never renewed until opening day, even after being told his seats would be dropped. Why? As he said, “I know the game.” Imagine the year we actually did drop seats and sent him his notice. He came opening day and was in shock and quite angry. We got him tickets nearby, and although he was upset, he never procrastinated again. Changing habits is not the easiest thing to do.
Stop sending invoices to renew and start re-energizing. Frequent conversations will lead to upsells: moving up in the seating bowl, adding on seats, adding a group or suite rental, etc. Never be satisfied with an invoice to renew exactly what they have. You just lost a prime selling opportunity.
These are just 5 of many suggestions I have. Most importantly is to plan the renewal strategy before the season even starts. Communicate it. Follow through with it. Talk with your people first and see if you can re-energize them. Hand deliver a renewal in their seats. Make the process as easy as possible.
Every team needs a base. The key is we cannot take this base for granted. Show the client they are more to you than a renewal. People will jump through hoops when appreciated. Appreciate your client throughout the year, both in season and out of season, make them part of the process, empower them to be able to make their own choices, and they will be yours forever.
Kathy Burrows, SOS…Sold Out Seating
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