The key to long term sales

Mike Crandall, Sandler Custom Growth Solutions

If you’re a Thunder season ticket member, you might get asked questions by your account manager about how many dogs you have, how old your children are and when your wedding anniversary is.

These questions are all typical of the relationship-building strategies the Thunder uses when someone buys a new season ticket. That account is turned over to the Thunder’s customer retention department. Their responsibility is to find out as much information as they can about that customer.

“We want to know who their favorite player is, who their favorite opposing team is. What schools do they follow? What type of food do they like? Do they have dogs? What are their kid’s names? When is their birthday and anniversary?” said Scott Loft, Vice President of Ticket Sales, Retention and Database Operations for the Oklahoma City Thunder. “We want to know everything about them that they’re willing to share. The reason is because we going to count on that personal relationship to keep ticket sales up.”

“Our account managers might have a pre-game social at one of the restaurants around Chesapeake Energy Arena and invite ticket holders who enjoy that style of cuisine,” Loft says. “Or on a Saturday afternoon they’ll get their season ticket holders who are all OU fans or OSU fans and watch a game at a popular restaurant or bar. Or, we’ll provide dinner in one of the rooms at the arena before a game and if we’re serving Italian food, we’ll invite the ticket holders who love Italian food so everyone feels comfortable.”

If a season ticket member tells the team that Serge Ibaka is their favorite player, rest assured the fan is going to receive a happy birthday ecard in their inbox from the Thunder Serge Ibaka. Plus, on major milestone events like birthdays and anniversaries, their account managers might even deliver a cupcake to the ticket holder’s seat.

These relationship-building strategies are why the Thunder has a 5,000-seat waitlist for season tickets. “We’ve been fortunate enough to renew over 98% in the last 4 years and continue to grow our waitlist, but that’s not going to last forever,” Loft said. “We have to connect with our customers hearts and keep relationships strong when ticket sales start to drop. You have to think differently you have to find different ways to sell.”

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