When you think of industries ours can learn from, it’s hard to avoid the world of professional sports.
We both have seasons, we both have exciting days, we both have not-so-exciting days, we both want to create loyal fans around a central brand, we both sell single-event tickets, and we both sell season-long packages.
But it’s on that last point – season passes/tickets – where professional sports leave skiing in the dust with the experience they offer.
Because in all the years I’ve held a season pass, I’ve never had this status celebrated and elevated like this.
— Matt (@nosoupforgeorge) March 2, 2016
Wait, maybe that’s a really clever, ahead-of-the-curve team at the Athletics, right? Maybe not.
When your 2016 Mets season ticket package shows up in the mail pic.twitter.com/2E3zIgbXEF
— Brian Zinser (@Zinserbrian) March 16, 2016
— Dr Rajiv K Singal (@DrRKSingal) March 7, 2016
But, maybe it’s just baseball where there’s a lot of money and resources, right? Well, maybe not. Turns out, one of the sports that’s going all-in on this idea is none other than Major League Soccer.
— Dave A. (@Ammiratad) February 26, 2016
— Ricky (@Horseytweets) February 23, 2016
— Iris (@IM7507) February 22, 2016
Someday, season ticket package-arrival day won’t be the high point of the Union season … right? pic.twitter.com/PZQjoJFwEr
— Steve Moore (@Smoore1117) February 18, 2016
True, there’s a bit more money in NYCFC’s bank account than Mountain Creek’s, but if we look at the patterns behind the scenes I think we’ll see something we can learn from.
- Designed to make them feel more valuable than single-ticket buyer (feeling of importance).
- It’s not a pass or pack or ticket, it’s a membership or club (exclusivity).
- Something unique to wear and/or decorate with to represent this status (creates identity and gives evidence of status).
- Delivered well before the season starts (prolong experience, capitalize on pent up demand).
In other words, professional sports teams design not just a season-long product, but a season-long experience and identity that helps these fans feel valuable and important starting the second they buy their pass.
With the patterns identified, we can separate what they did (which you may not be able to afford) from why they did it (which, with a bit of creativity, you probably can).
Some ideas in that regard.
#1) Special Days for Passholders
Killington has a history of doing this at the ultimate time: opening day. I love this. Even just giving passholders early access to a specific lift each day could be huge in this regard.
What does this do? Creates exclusivity.
#2) Unique T-Shirt or Hoodie Only Passholders Get
What if you printed something fairly inexpensive like a T-shirt or beanie that had some sort of wording/branding specific to passholders. Even just your logo with an integrated, all-caps word “PASSHOLDER” printed on a brand-color shirt or hoodie could be more than enough.
What would this do? Create an identity and a way to show your status within it.
#3) Special, Pre-Season Delivery
And while you’re at it, what if you stuck their pass (or a reminder if you need their photo) and t-shirt and other elements of being a passholder (more on that later) in a custom box or envelope that was something passholders would look look forward to receiving each fall (and be so excited they’d tweet about it when they did)?
What would this do? Expands the season passholder experience.
BONUS) Print Evidence of Passholder Benefits
You know all those perks – the discounts, the buddy passes, the partner tickets – you list at the bottom of your pass page? Those are amazingly valuable, often carrying more value as a whole than the pass itself.
So what if you put those on glossy, nicely designed cards? Or a magnet or calendar that lists key dates throughout the season that will not only remind them of all the value within their pass but constantly remind them to use it? Said another way, what if that coupon you could share with a friend actually was a coupon you could share with friend?
Lots of Possibilities
If there’s anything that baseball and soccer and other professional sports can teach us, it’s that there is a lot untapped potential within for loyalty and experiences within our most loyal group of customers.
With a little planning, design, and cost, this value can be unlocked simply by the way we deliver the product these customers have purchased.
Published March 17th, 2017 by Gregg Blanchard.