Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Interpreting BC's ticket sales push

BC launched a "Father's Day Kickoff Sale" Wednesday. Like other recent efforts, I applaud the push by the Ticket Department, but worry that BC's aggressive marketing is a sign of a bigger problem. I know that football ticket sales are down again. There is always a decline in years in which BC doesn't play Notre Dame. But the trending is worse than previous non-Irish seasons. Then there are the season ticket renewal anecdotes.

The scenario goes something like this. BC Season Ticket holder let his/her tickets lapse. After ignoring email reminders, they get a personal call from the ticket office mentioning they can still have their seat(s). In most cases the calls are ineffective and the ticket holder declines to renew. [IF YOU HAVE A SIMILAR EXPERIENCE PLEASE SHARE IT IN THE COMMENTS.]

Now comes the Father's Day sale. Considering the season is two months away, I think it is too early to start major discounting. What does that signal to your most loyal customer base? Like any situation with slack demand, BC has to be careful how much they devalue their own product. BC put this sale in a limited window, but I have a funny feeling we will see more sales as the season approaches.

If you ask Gene why sales are lagging, he will tell you the economy, television and secondary market reselling have contributed to the decline. Those are factors. So is the gameday experience and the product on the field. I wish I had a simple solution but I don't. My fear with the front loaded home slate and the low expectations, we could see our lowest attendance figures since the early days of TOB.

Because there is no simple solution, I think BC is stuck dumping tickets at low prices. It may offset things a bit. In the long run, I hope all the factors are recognized and BC does a better job rebuilding the game day experience. Winning is the best sales driver but so are relationships and expectations. BC needs to rebuild relationships with their most loyal fans. And BC needs to coach Spaz into being a better face of the program. If those things don't change, BC will be giving tickets away soon.


cwm2005 said...

I have received multiple emails (including father's day) and two personal calls from the ticket office. I'm not renewing season tickets based on the home schedule, and that alone. The two games i'm most interested in attending are FSU on Thursday and Northwestern on Labor Day weekend. I can't attend either, and i'd assume many casual fans in the Northeast (i'm in NJ) are in similar situation.

I expect i will go to the TOB bowl, and that's it. I also expect to re-up on season tickets for 2012. So, i don't see it as a pandemic, just a crap schedule coming off a disappointing year in a down economy

geigs said...

i did not renew my tickets for several reasons:

1) last year i had to purchase more expensive seats that weren't by my friends cause their seats were "sold out." wasn't happy, but i purchased since i wanted tickets.

2) a couple weeks later i got one of these promotional emails offering tickets in the same section i couldn't originally purchase tickets in cause they were "sold out." i was quite upset and wrote an email to the athletic department. i got a couple calls/emails and received stock answers/excuses. THEN, i went to the gate for the first came and my ticket was denied. luckily my friend had an extra ticket so i could get in. after yet another call with an AD rep, i was told the worker at the gate made a mistake. clearly not a good start to the season.

3) towards the end of the season, tickets were on groupon at deep discounts. my friends and i with season tickets wondered how we could be so stupid to buy season tickets at full price when our game day experience and access to cheap (and even free) tickets were the same.

the result??? i clearly did not renew my season tickets. i have given not so nice responses to the numerous calls/emails i've received about renewing. ATL is right, the AD department has a LOT of work to do. why would i buy season tickets when i can either buy single game tickets at face value or can wait and buy the same tickets at deep discounts with these promos? what am i missing here? am i taking crazy pills????

eagleinexile said...

I got my "reminder" a couple weeks ago, and unfortunately I am a non-player as I reside on the West Coast, I am lucky if I get to 1 game a year.

There are several factors at play here, some previously mentioned (down economy, bad home schedule), but the real reason is that this administration lost sight of the makeup of BC's fan base.

The fan base is threefold: Students, diehards/alumni, and casual fans. Travel expenses and the economy kills the casual fans, the Students are a lock, but then there are the diehards/alumni.

ATL rightly pointed out that the Gameday experience is lacking. This is a result of years of bad policy moves. Bad tailgating rules combined with poor treatment of your loyal base equals bad ticket sales. The diehards/alumni of BC are particular and smart. They will not piss money away for a crappy afternoon when they could do something else or watch on TV and have a better tailgate at home.

This has nothing to do with on-field performance. In the 80's or 90's, people would have gushed over a Bowl team in a "rebuilding year". This has everything to do with greed and lack of appreciation.

Bosgal33 said...

Plain and simple, we didn't buy season tickets because it the game day experience isn't fun anymore.

Getting to the stadium, the on campus experience, and the attitude of the staff from top to bottom, ruins the day.

I'd rather pick a good away game or two. You get to experience great game day atmosphere, see a new place, and support the team in a way that it desperately needs.

Big Jack Krack said...

I renew mine every year, even though I live in Columbia, SC. I don't want to give up my 50 yard line seats - and I also want to support the players in spite of the administration. I admit that it is costly, but once I don't care about the players, I'm gone.

But I must say, this was all predictable and Gene has completely missed the boat on taking care of his fans on gameday.

Sept. 3 Northwestern – 12:00 p.m.
Sept. 17 Duke – 12:30 p.m.
Sept. 24 Massachusetts – TBA
Oct. 1 Wake Forest – TBA
Nov. 3 Florida State – 8:00 p.m.
Nov. 12 NC State – TBA

If the Duke, Wake Forest, Florida State and NC State home games don't excite us - here's my question. Are we happy with the move to the ACC? I have been very surprised the last couple of Clemson games in Chestnut Hill to see so many empty seats.

Game day experience has to be one of the primary reasons. Why can't I have a "picnic style" tailgate on the Brighton Campus? It's reasonable to say no cookouts, but unreasonable to say no sandwiches and beer and wine for family and friends to socialize and get into the spirit.

Gene doesn't have a clue and should have renegotiated years ago. We are losing out to HD TV.

I am very disappointed in Gene's leadership on this issue.

One other thing - WINNING AND EXCITING FOOTBALL might put fans back into the seats.

BaldEagle90 said...

Bad schedule. Bad parking. Complete hassle. Limited fun.

Newton, Boston, and BC make it a crime to tailgate. So I have to park, with my kids, on the other side of the reservoir and basically go to a bar for a pre-game activity. Or get shuttled like cattle (on a very slow shuttle) back and forth to Needham.

The fan fest at the rec plex is fine and a decent solution for the kiddies, but the overall experience drags.

And this home schedule - I don't think ESPN12 would broadcast these trash games. Horrible.

Bottom line - it is NEVER an issue to get a ticket to a game you really want to see. So why buy the season package?

Michael said...

geigs and BaldEagle90 hit the nail on the head. Why buy season tickets when you can get tickets for face value or less closer to the dates of the games.

Graduated last year and 9 of my friends and I who live in Boston decided we'd all get season tickets together. Two other friends decided not to and just try and get tickets to the big games. They went to V.Tech, Notre Dame, and Clemson by buying tickets face value or less and didn't have to fork over the dough for the Kent State-esque games. All of us who bought season tickets felt like idiots.

Fast forward to this year- all of us are going to play the wait and see game. Will get to go to any games we want to this year and save boatloads.

EagleinNYC said...

I gave up my season tickets a few years ago, because simply there was no reason to keep them. I live in NYC, and go up to a game or 2 a year. Btw the Ticket Exchange, or Stubhub, or friends, it’s not hard to get a ticket. In fact, I’ve never NOT been able to find a ticket - even to the ND or Florida State games.
Add to that the pathetic game day experience overall (I know that’s more on Boston, than it is BC, but still) and its more reason not to float hundreds of dollars on Season's.

With the new "Master Plan", once Shea Field has dorms, and is gone for tailgating, I fully expect it to get even worse.

CT said...

I think everyone is right. It's hard for BC to be seen as a big-time football school when there's a hard cap on people's ability to make Saturdays a legitimate college football experience. With a small stadium to begin with, it's twice as embarrassing not to be able to fill every seat. I think Spaz could help a little by channelling his inner Jags "they have to play us" mantra, but those same gameday 3rd party ticket prices would go up if BC had a star or two who made you want to see him in person. Even the wine and cheese crowd wants to see Pujols bat in the 1st inning or see Lebron's physical stature in person. Not watch our offense get 189 yds of total offense.

Winning is obviously the ultimate marketer, but style matters when every game is on your HD TV and beer is an arm length away.

Erik said...

I renew my tickets every year because I sit with my Dad and we have okay seats and we like to be able to sit in the same seats every game. And also because I love BC football and I want to support the program. I always know that I can get one-off tickets to every game for a fraction of the cost.

I pony up with friends for a tailgating spot so I get a decent gameday experience. If I didn't have that and couldn't afford it on my own or in a small group, I would probably skip the season tickets and just get tickets every week through the $10 sales.

As I said, I DID renew my season tickets and I still got a call on my call, and a call at my parents house (last lived there in 2000) asking me why I didn't renew. I also even bought 2 extra seats for 5 games. So there's a disconnect going on there.

mod34b said...

BAD game day experience is #1 reason for sales decline. Economy is a big #2 reason. People in New England are very worried about $$$ matters presently.

Not great or intersting team is probably #4 or #5 reason. BC had many lackluster teams over the years, but the crowds still came to game day. Those games were fun because the tailgating pre-game was more fun. Wish that wuz still the case.

I can deal with bad parking (I just park on Beacon (bring $4 in quarters) and take a cab up, or the T, better than Needham parking). But the lack of a fun game day experience makes me prefer to watch the game on TV.

I wish BC would just host a massive cocktail party on Shea field with cash bars everywhere. Pop up a few hospitality tents and crank up the Murphys. All people would need to bring is cash and ID. No renting tailing gating spots, no schlepping food and beer. School would make a bundle, it would be a fun party and everyone would luv it.

I guess for some reason this is just not possible. WHY? They have a bad (and highly depressing) pre-game party in the plex, why not make the party outside and make it more lively and more fun.

As for the schedule this year. Horrific

Sept. 3 Northwestern – 12:00 p.m. (12 noon on Labor day weekend -- no one is going to this one)
Sept. 17 Duke – 12:30 p.m. (Duke -- who ever cares about Duke football ... nobody is going)
Sept. 24 Massachusetts – TBA (blah; no reason to go)
Oct. 1 Wake Forest – TBA (blah, blah .. Riley Skiiner games were great, but these guys really suck now, but I might go to this one)
Nov. 3 Florida State – 8:00 p.m. (exciting!)
Nov. 12 NC State – TBA (should be a good one!)

Patrick said...

Through a mixed bag of bad business decisions, the Athletic Department has pissed off its loyal customers and made absolutley no effort to expand its customer base.

Over the past decade, the price of the game day experience has skyrocketed. The cost of tailgating spots has more than doubled, and it does not go unnoticed in my lot that 1/3 of the spots are empty, 1/3 of the spots are filled by regulars, and 1/3 of the spots are filled by BC giving away the pass to friends of the school (ie. professors, administrators, etc.). As recently as 2000, if you bought 4 season tickets, you were guaranteed a parking spot on campus in the Comm Ave garage. Now, if you buy 4 tickets, you are guaranteed nothing --- despite the fact that there are thousands of newly available spots on the Brighton campus. I have absolutely no idea what the logic is behind that decision, but there are plenty of local alumns with young families who would love to bring their kids and their kids' friends, but who can't justify the whole bus it to and from Needham experience. Can't blame 'em.

BC has a decent product. It's not great football, largely thanks to our horrific offense. But it's a decent atmosphere and its the closest anyone in the Boston area is going to get to big time football without wasting a Sunday in traffic to/from Foxboro. But there are absolutely ZERO steps taken to appeal to the average sports fan. They can't tailgate. They have to suffer the B line or walk from the D line.

Some of the issues facing BC are not going to be changed easily, if at all. That includes the tailgating restrictions and the inherent parking limitations. But they're not even trying to work within the constraints they have. Everytime you see Gene interviewed he babbles on about how we have more tailgating time than we had 5 years ago. We also have more obnoxious police officers giving us a hard time --- for drinking a beer that many people paid $3,500 for the right to stand in a parking lot and drink. I mean, c'mon. Not surprising that many people fail to justify that in difficult economic times.

That also applies to the ticket situation: I view my tickets as a donation to BC and nothing more. I know I can get tickets to literally any game on campus, and that includes games against ND, and Fla. State, and even USC when they come down the road. But I like my seats because I grew up sitting in them. It's not an ecomically rational decision, and these are mostly economically rational times for people.

EaglesBro said...

I complain as much as anyone about the gameday experience, lack of empathy from the administration, etc.

However, for myself and most of my friends it comes down to the schedule this year. Why pony up $150 for tickets when I can buy them for $10 a piece (minus FSU)? If there were a few more games where I thought I'd have to pay face value or higher, I probably would have renewed. Also, even for the biggest games it's pretty easy to sit wherever you want. Plus, I'd rather donate the extra $100 than use it to buy tickets -- at least I'll get credit for it from BC.

strongarm95 said...

I've renewed my season tickets because I see it as a way that I can make a small donation to BC every year. Like most everyone else I will not be going to most of the games this year. I live in NYC and the one game I really wanted to see, Florida State, they scheduled on a Thursday night, which will be impossible to make. While it will probably pull good ratings, I don't know that it will be great publicity for BC when they pan across a half full stadium.

For me the #1 reason I see for season ticket holders not renewing is the game day experience, as many others have noted. If it was up to BC I'm sure they'd be ok with having no tailgating at all. They say the neighbors are tying their hands, but how hard do they really try to fight for extra tailgating time? I would venture to guess not at all. My friends and I travel to an away game once a year and in comparison to every other school we’ve been to, the tailgating at BC is downright embarrassing. We went to Clemson a few years ago and tailgated before and after the game. The only reason our tailgate ended was because we ran out of beer, many hours after the game (it was dark out).

And if anyone has ever had the “privilege” of spending thousands of dollars to get a spot on the Shea penitentiary lot, you how much fun it is to tailgate there. Boston police continually “make the rounds” looking to bust underage drinkers or people who look like they might be having fun. We were told once that we couldn’t play beer pong, even though we weren’t drinking! We were the designated drivers just passing time until our families were ready to go. It’s also fun to be rounded up before game time. The cops show up in full force in squad cars and on horseback to force everyone in to the stadium. I’m actually surprised they aren’t in riot gear. They might as well put up guard towers to complete the effect.

Ian said...

While I agree that the game day experience can improve quite a bit, it really has no bearing on my renewing my season tickets every year. I would love to be able to go set up camp early in the morning, eat/drink/play games for hours before and after the game. But that's simply not a reality for me.

I have two young kids who I am starting to take to games...asking them to sit through one half of football is a lot, nevermind a full tailgate. As they start to play sports/get involved in other activities, it will be increasingly difficult to get to games and get a full (albeit limited due to BC/Boston/Newton restrictions) tailgate in.

Despite tailgating and weak home schedule, I was planning to renew anyway. The 3 other ticket holders in my group felt the same way. BUT, feeling that ticket sales would go down, we took the opportunity to boost our Flynn Fund donations and get a significant seat upgrade, which isn't always easy when you want to keep 8 seats together. I also did this to get parking on Brighton Campus, which helps make the process of bringing my kids A LOT easier. Perhaps I'm in the minority on this, as I'm planning on being a long-time (lifetime?) season ticket holder, but I see opportunity in this. But I would like to see BC reward loyal ticket holders paying a premium over these discounted prices. This is one area the school has been terrible about over the years.

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eagleboston said...

Man, some of you are the biggest whiners I have ever seen. You are bitching about the home schedule? It starts off with Northwestern, a Big Ten team that runs a very exciting offense and they match up with us academically. I admit Duke on paper is not exciting but they could very well knock us off. UMASS is an in-state team that should draw a lot of interest. Then you have Wake Forest, a game that always, always goes down to the wire followed by Florida State on Thursday night and then TOB comes back into town with NC State. Lots of great story-lines, teams that match-up with us and the opportunity to see the greatest defensive player in BC history. What more do you want in a schedule?

hsk said...

I don't believe that this has anything to do with schedules or ticket costs. It is the game day experience that is driving people away. I was a season ticket holder from NJ for many years, but opted not to renew this year. It is simply not worth the energy. Over the past two years in particular one feels like they are trespassing when entering Alumni. Between the neon green goons who hate everything BC and are everywhere in the stadium, the State troopers, Boston Police, and BC Police the atmosphere is completely suppressing. I am waiting for the helicopters to hover overhead. And that anyone would subject themselves to the "Needham experience" is beyond my comprehension. I am a product of the late 70's, God only knows that I witnessed some awful football as a student. Yet, the atmosphere then was festive despite the results, granted alcohol flowed like water, but I do not believe that one can blame it all on the lack of it today. BC marketing and athletics need to get their heads together quickly because this has the opportunity to only get worse. Newton and Boston, as well as BC need to realize that BC football is good for the local economy. Build it and they will come, but at this point they are driving us away.

Katie said...

mod34b, I love your idea of a massive tailgate cocktail party on Shea Field. I went to the Champs Sports Bowl in 2007, and BC hosted an alumni tailgate where they served sandwiches and had a cash bar. I don't understand why this couldn't happen during the regular season on Shea Field. I remember the bowl tailgate being $20 or something (worth it even if only for the shade!) but if BC charged maybe $5 or $10, they would make a fortune and it would be a great way for fans to congregate before the games. They could even have a "tailgate games check-out area" where you could pay a dollar to get a BC bean bag toss set (since no one would be able to pull one out of their cars). They could even use the grills from the concessions stands in Alumni to make the burgers and dogs, appeasing the Newton and Boston neighbors.

Walter said...

This was a very fun comments section to read through - it's very telling to read through everyone's comments and realize that, overall, there is obviously significant room for BC to do a better job.

I had season tickets last year but don't think I'll have them this year as a result of law school beginning. In terms of value, I thought they were worth the money. We paid $170 total for a season that included ND at home. I've seen some people claim they got even those tickets for face value, but face value for that game was 50 bucks I believe or something close. So really, if the home schedule features a big name opponent, the cheap season tickets (and I still really liked out seats) are worth it.

My hunch is just always to blame brighton/newton for the tailgating restrictions, but it would be interesting to find out just how much truth that holds.

Attendance bugs me the most of any problem that could actually be solved. I don't care if they had to literally give the tickets away. A full stadium for every game - no matter how it's accomplished - would pay off more in the long term vs the constant, CONSTANT, criticism our fanbase gets in the current sparsely attended system.

Bravesbill said...

Hey Big Jack, I didn't know you were living in Columbia, SC. I've been down here for the last 2 years, although I'll be moving out shortly. It is a shame that BC's gameday experience isn't even close to being in the same league as USC, which supposedly has one of the lesser gameday experiences in the SEC. If I was remaining here permanently, I'd much rather buy USC season tickets that BC season tickets simply because the experience is so much better. I went to a few of their games last year against Alabama and Arkansas and it blew my mind. It's pretty much an all-day event no matter what time the game starts. Let's not forget about the great southern girls either...

almost_paul said...

I live 900 miles from BC, so season tickets aren't an option. However, I was all ready to schedule a trip to Boston for a home game in October and my wife was even on board. What could be better? Middle of the season, beautiful wheather in New England that time of year. Sounded perfect. So, I look at the schedule and wah wah wah ... ONE *!#%ing HOME IN OCTOBER??? We had a conflict October 2nd, so the trip was dead before it even got out of the gate. Thanks, Gene.