Photo credit: History of Soccer
Operating a professional sports team isn’t all fun and games. Your job requires a lot of hard work, organization, and attention to detail. But that can all be derailed by one bad vendor. Especially if that vendor manages your ticketing and payments – this is how your team makes money!
When you’re evaluating potential platforms, keep these 10 questions ready to help you decide whether they’re the right partner for you.
1. How much will it cost?
This is often the first question our team answers when we onboard a new client is about costs, so we imagine it’s pretty high on your list, too. That’s understandable: costs and ROI are critical to your business.
Don’t just ask potential partners what their service fees are. Ask if they have any minimum-length contracts, monthly fees, or setup costs. Can any service fees be passed on to ticket purchasers?
Setup fees, monthly subscription costs, or even per-ticket expenses can hamstring your team’s ability to free up cash flow that allows you to grow. Passing on the fees can lower your overall costs and produce a more profitable season. Fans don’t mind paying an extra dollar or two for the convenience, but those savings to your team really add up when they’re multiplied by thousands of tickets every season (or every game).
Since you asked…with Passage, all fees can be passed on to the ticket purchaser. It’s FREE to sports teams.
2. How easy is it to set up?
You shouldn’t have to create a new full-time position just to manage your team’s ticketing and payments. Look for platforms that allow you to set everything up in a matter of minutes, then change things on the fly whenever you need to.
Will you have to complete a new merchant account (and the piles of paperwork that come with it)? Must you email a support address every time you want to change a single graphic or send a message to ticket-holders about an upcoming game?
A good ticketing platform should be self-service, but when you need a little extra help…
3. Will I get the support I need?
Whether you’re a new team owner or a seasoned pro, you know the importance of a solid support team to help get the job done. You need to know someone has your back if things get off track. We’re not just talking about your management team; a good ticketing partner should be there for you during the planning phase, during your games, and for post-season wrap-up to help you succeed.
Communication should be easy and convenient for you. If you don’t see a chat button on their website or a way to call in and speak with a real person, that’s a red flag.
Don’t just think about yourself, though. Consider your fans: will they be able to contact ticketing support if they have questions or need help? A good partner will help with guest ticketing support, so you can focus on producing a great gameday experience.
4. Can I customize my ticketing page?
Even if you’re not looking for a completely whitelabel solution, you probably want to add some customization to your ticketing page. This strengthens your team’s brand and offers fans a more seamless experience.
Will you be able to add your own logo and graphics? Can you embed the ticketing form on your own website? Ask potential partners what is possible with their system, and how much support they can offer in helping you set up the customizations you need.
Did you know? Passage is customizable for your brand, and we even offer a whitelabel solution for advanced options.
5. How do season passes work on your platform?
Your most enthusiastic fans want to attend every home game your team plays. You need a ticketing partner that will allow them to do that without adding a lot of extra work and headaches for you.
When you’re chatting with potential partners, ask whether their platform supports season pass sales AND how season passes will work once a fan purchases. Will you get reporting on which games they attend? Can a passholder transfer their ticket if they’re unable to attend? What happens if a game is rescheduled or delayed?
6. Do you offer assigned seating?
Allowing fans to select exactly where they want to sit in your venue can make them feel like they’re attending a real, professional sporting event and not just a high school football game. It also gives you the opportunity to earn more revenue for the most popular or best-situated seats.
Ask potential partners to show you how assigned seating works on their system. Is it easy to figure out?
These days, another key question to ask is how social distancing works with their seating plan. Do they have socially distanced seating capabilities? Will it react dynamically when a guest selects their seat(s), blocking off those around them?
7. Can I livestream my games from your platform?
Even when it’s safe to welcome fans back to your stands, including a livestreamed or virtual game is critical to the future success of your team. More and more fans are demanding the option to join games from the comfort of their homes, where they can control the volume, temperature, lighting, and even food & beverages.
Whether your game is entirely virtual or a hybrid event, the ability to record your livestream for guests to playback later can help you bring in additional revenue. Look for a ticketing partner who can capture your livestream as it happens, then replay it during specific time windows you set up or on-demand whenever a fan purchases access. One of the benefits of virtual games is unlimited attendance, so look for a partner that really helps you maximize that by replaying your event for as many fans as possible.
Ask potential virtual events partners not only which platforms are compatible with their system, but if and how they can SECURE access to your livestream. Why go to all the trouble of producing a professional game if anyone can sneak in?
It’s also a good idea to ask whether they have their own streaming platform you can use. This can help simplify things for your event, so you’re not jumping back and forth between multiple platforms.
8. When will I get paid?
This is huge. Especially these days, getting timely access to your ticket revenue can make or break a business’ cash flow.
A good partner will transfer ticket funds as they come in, within two business days of every sale. If your provider wants to make you wait until after your event ends, or there’s an additional delay in sending you funds, ask why.
9. How will you help me make money?
Ticket revenue is just one small part of a sports team’s overall revenue strategy. There are upsell opportunities for merchandise, VIP experiences, and concessions, plus sponsorship packages and other revenue streams.
Do they support merchandise sales? If you’re offering a virtual game option, is there a way for fans to donate or tip live during your game? Can they offer social discounts, which give fans an immediate discount for sharing your event with their friends? A robust system should make it easy for you to incorporate sponsorship packages into your season, too.
Don’t forget to ask about Group Sales: a key revenue-generating function for many sports teams. Will their platform support corporate outings, kids club fundraisers, and other types of group sales? This can have a huge impact on your bottom line and help you build a larger fanbase in your community.
10. What kind of reporting will I get?
Running a professional team is impossible without the right data. You need to know who is purchasing tickets to your games AND who is attending. And you need to be able to create the right reports for your business. No two teams are the same. Look for a ticketing system that will allow you to get the data you need to understand how the business side of your team is performing.
You should also ask about contact information. When a fan purchases a ticket, will you be able to remarket to them throughout the season? Next season?