Last week we found ourselves having a lively debate with the Football League, The Women’s FA and a selection of football clubs.
The overall theme of the day was the future of fan engagement and a range of topics were up for discussion – from attracting the next generation of supporters, the value of dynamic ticket pricing and looking at the role that technology and social media plays in creating loyalty with fans.
To gain a better insight into the motivations behind ticket purchase and its influence on the fan experience, we decided to commission some independent research with Sportswise, the research arm of leading sports agency Goodform. With over 2,500 respondents to its Fan Panel research, we launched the results of the UK ‘State of the Nation Research’ at the event. To read the full press release on some of the key research findings visit our ticketing news site.
The research provided UK football clubs with a clear message, with the research revealing the two most important motivators when fans are buying a ticket are 1) securing the best deal and 2) securing their favourite seat.
More than 96% of respondents stated that cost was the most important factor when purchasing tickets
73% also welcomed details on deals and offers from venues in advance
72% of football fans stated the ability to choose their favourite seat was one of the most important considerations when purchasing their ticket
In addition to their favourite seat, fans always want to secure the best price with 97% saying they’d consider or take up early bird ticket offers to get this.
From my perspective, it reaffirmed our view of the importance of obsessing over every aspect of customer data. My question to football clubs attending on the day was exactly how much they know about who is sitting in each and every seat at their stadium at every match. I believe that the more information every club has about its fans, the more it can deliver a truly personalised fan experience that rewards loyalty with relevant discounts and offers.
The research created a forum from which we debated the issues of the day. It always strikes me how open and honest football clubs are willing to be with each other, wanting to share best practice and learnings.
Katie Holmes, Head of Ticketing at Leeds United Football Club, one of our customers, shared the club’s innovations in driving engagement with fans. She discussed their Grass Roots group ticketing scheme, a new initiative to encourage juniors from across the county to come to Elland Road. Ticket pricing strategy was at the heart of this to make it affordable for all to attend. Being part of the Grass Roots initiative gives juniors the opportunity to take advantage of reduced price tickets, with junior tickets from as little as £5, whilst earning cash back for their club or organisation. However, the spirit of the scheme was to ensure they actively participate in the matchday itself, so junior football teams parade around the pitch at half time, shake the giant shirt on the centre circle, the 1st team squad can be escorted onto the pitch and juniors have the chance to be the official ‘Guard of Honour’ as both teams enter the pitch.
Other clubs shared their experiences with dynamic pricing, and the benefit they saw in that model in the right situation, whilst others revealed insights into what worked – and what didn’t – when trying to meet the needs of families throughout the match day experience.
The event was held at St George’s Park, the FA’s National Football Centre in Burton-On-Trent, so we rounded off the event with a tour of the facilities, which were very impressive. The service was excellent and we’ll certainly be making a trip back there again to hold other events.
Ironically, our research coincided with clubs responding to the Premier League’s ‘Away Fan Fund’ which put this fully on the media agenda. As a result, I’ll be talking about our research on BBC Radio Manchester’s Football Hour next Monday, 28th October, tune in to hear some more lively debate. Of course, there’s always the risk that I’ll be put on the bench.
Mark Dewell, MD