When working in the ticket sales department of the New York Mets, I sold full-season ticket packages to local businesses. I soon noticed that companies that purchased baseball tickets typically fell into two categories:
Elephants: Some companies bought full-season ticket packages knowing that many of these tickets would go to waste. Why did they buy them? Because the buyer wanted the special perks and benefits that came with buying a large volume of games. (More on that below)
Rabbits: These companies bought smaller packages to maximize ticket utilization and limit waste. These companies wanted to make sure that every ticket was put to good use, and they were willing to forgo the perks and benefits enjoyed by elephants.
On the surface, it’s easy to see why each kind of company approaches tickets as it does, but neither approach is ideal because both rest on an unspoken assumption that once you exceed a certain number of tickets, waste is inevitable.
Let’s be honest: baseball is different from other sports. The season consists of 81 home games compared to only 41 in the NBA and NHL, and a mere ten in the NFL (including preseason). Also, baseball is often played in long stretches, known as home stands. The Mets played nine consecutive days on four different occasions in 2016. You won’t see that kind of stretch in any other sport. Determining a client’s availability to attend events can be tricky enough; the large number and frequency of baseball games can make it feel even trickier.
Elephants spend money on experiences because they know that live events are a powerful way to drive new business and deepen relationships with current clients. In addition, many companies incentivize employees with baseball tickets. Considering that a typical baseball season is comprised of 81 games, companies may have valid reasons to not use all their tickets. But planned non-usage is fundamentally different from letting tickets go to waste because the process for obtaining them is impossibly complex or because they are being improperly allocated to employees for their personal enjoyment. This is waste, plain and simple, and companies that hold a large volume of tickets make a mistake when they assume a certain percentage of their tickets will inevitably fall victim to it.
Maintaining visibility and control of a large number of tickets can be impossible with traditional tools like Excel and email. But with the advent of software-as-a-service solutions, companies can take control of their tickets using advanced systems specifically designed to handle the complexity of live event management.
In their quest to make every ticket count, rabbits deliberately limit their ticket holdings to a number they believe can be managed through their existing process. But this costs them potentially millions of dollars in missed opportunities. Not only are they limiting their ability to deepen client relationships, they are also missing out on an entirely different set of experiences. Teams save the best perks, benefits, and discounts for companies that purchase a large volume of tickets.
For example, many MLB teams give full season ticket holders early ballpark entry, special invitations to exclusive events like player meet-and-greets, opportunities to throw out the first pitch, and access to every home playoff game. Imagine the kind of impression attending such an event can make on your clients. Yet by suppressing their ticket holdings out of an understandable desire to use them efficiently, companies completely miss out on these incredible events. Of course, taking your client to a standard Tuesday night game has its own charms, but how about going the extra mile and getting him down onto the field to take batting practice? Businesses can really set themselves apart by treating their clients to an unforgettable class of events and experiences.
Holding a large number of tickets doesn’t mean companies are doomed to waste them.
Waste and misuse happens when companies try to manage tickets with traditional tools like Excel and email—tools that just aren’t up to the job.
I know lots of elephants and rabbits and worked with them for years. I saw these problems firsthand and it’s why I do what I do now at InviteManager working with companies to make tickets easy and prove the ROI. If your company owns baseball tickets or is looking to invest, avoid the mistakes of the elephants and rabbits.
Chris Moffett is part of InviteManager’s New York sales team, but his favorite place to be is at the ballpark.