So your team has made the playoffs – excellent! This is what your sales and marketing staff has been waiting for. Time to capitalize on it, sell those playoff tickets and rake in the cash. But wait a second…we’re not sold out? People aren’t knocking down the doors for seats? We sold out the upper-deck but still have good seats left? What do we do?
If this was the regular season, the easiest thing to do would be to discount the seats. Teams are always offering special promo codes and ticket offers to their fans through their website, email list or other communication channel. But in the playoffs, this can look really bad. This is a time when your product should be in demand and sell at a higher price point, so publicly discounting tickets has the effect of:
- Generating bad PR (makes it seem like your fans aren’t supporting the team)
- Angering existing buyers, especially season ticket holders that have already bought full playoff strips (i.e. tickets to all playoff games)
- Potentially flooding the secondary market, making it harder to sell your tickets directly
So how can you discount your playoff tickets without discounting your playoff tickets? I’ve seen two teams this year use a very successful strategy to move these tickets. It’s all about collaborating with your corporate partners. Compare these two scenarios:
- Team X can’t sell out their playoff game, so they discount their tickets, creating all the negative effects described above.
- Sponsor Y of Team X creates a special “Sponsor Y Playoff Pack” offer at a discounted price that the team and sponsor promote together.
In the 2nd scenario, you end up with the same results of getting lower-priced tickets in the marketplace to hopefully sell out your building, but instead of a negative perception for your team, the sponsor builds a positive perception my providing a service to fans of the team. Everyone wins with this plan: fans buy cheaper tickets, sponsor build brand affinity and the team has a sold out venue for the big game. This strategy can also be effective during the regular season as a way to “discount” premium inventory (suite and club seat) for low-interest games without devaluing your product.