With live sport in the UK gearing up for a staggered return and hopefully fans to follow close behind, we wanted to give you an update on how we are planning to get everyone back with a bang when it’s safe.

Understanding fans, their needs, apprehensions and also their excitement helps drive our strategy and provide clients with solutions that service their fanbase.

Proprietary Fan Research

Since the beginning of the pandemic, our international research team have conducted weekly fan based surveys to over 4,000 fans to help guide our ongoing methodology and help our clients and wider industry peers understand more about what fans are feeling and expecting from clubs and event organisers. As we all know every week there are clear changes to environment, situation and sentiment, but the key findings to date are positive and clear in terms of expectations when fans return: 

  • 93% of fans will return to live events 
  • 10% expect to attend even more events when they return
  • Live events are the number 1 lifestyle purchase fans will spend their money on when they can
  • 83% of fans request cleaner venues when the action returns

Cleaning is a key factor in helping with the return of attending events. Hand sanitiser stations and clean venues are stronger safety procedures for attendees over temperature controls and face masks.

We have no doubt that when live returns the appetite will be there. A key example is in New Zealand, which have gone to level 1, meaning no restrictions, and we are already seeing that Super Rugby will see over 30,000 attendees this weekend at the Blues v Hurricanes game.

External research

To support everything we’re researching internally, there’s been some great external research that continues to feed our ongoing strategy. Some key highlights from across the sport and event industries include:

@BVA_BDRC have highlighted there would be widespread support that a return of televised sport would lift the mood of the nation in their consumer sentiment report.

Sports marketing agency and our third party partner @goodformgroup have been releasing regular industry updates. Some of the key findings suggest fans are apprehensive to return but will do and swiftly if the right safety procedures are followed.

Interestingly @twocircles have highlighted that the cyclical consumer behaviours have now been broken, so grabbing their attention is going to be more important than ever now they have a new routine.

Ticketmaster Sport Tools

Understanding markets and consumer behaviour helps to feed our ongoing strategy to support clients but it’s important we also provide practical and useful solutions. We’ve responded quickly to market demands with a host of tools and services to help navigate upcoming challenges, whether that’s social distancing, cancellations or getting your name back in front of the right audiences.

Scaling tool

Ticketmaster Sport Scaling Tool

We are starting to roll out our Scaling Tool to clients. The tool allows commercial modelling and planning of stadium price categories and bands, and this is perfectly suited to plan for social distancing scenarios such as 2m or 1m guidelines, pods or other alternatives. Coupled with the ability to load any plans directly into our XR platform , we think this is an invaluable aid for outlining scenarios in the short term and implementing them in the long term. As part of our COVID-19 recovery plan, we are delighted to announce that all of our clients will have access to this tool for free until the end of 2020.

Refunds – Waive or donate
We have implemented the ‘waive or donate’ function as part of our new refund service. This is to give you more options for fans to choose what they want to do in result of a refund: 

  • Fans entitled to a portion of the season ticket refund can of course return this to account for use at a later date against their season ticket for next year
  • We have added functionality that allows fans to donate to a club cause or waive a refund to support the club
  • Finally, and most excitingly, from Q3 this year, fans will be able to keep any credit returned to their My Account profile from refunds or ticket exchange to use on any club ticketing portal for example their season ticket, single matches, memberships or upgrades

COVID-19 has posed many challenges for professional sports clubs, none more so than the daunting task of refunding all ticket, membership and season ticket revenues. Sussex Cricket and many other sports club have received overwhelming support from their fans requesting to donate their ticket, membership and season ticket purchases back to the club, this outreach of financial support will be the bedrock of some clubs surviving this pandemic but most do not have a platform to manage it.

This is where Ticketmaster came in, they listened to the problem and with guidance from Sussex Cricket quickly developed a mechanism to allow our fans the option to financial support their beloved club. The whole project from inception to delivery of the working mechanism took three weeks and since going live on Monday 8th June we have seen a great take up. We hope all Ticketmaster clients can benefit from this work and the world of sport can be back full operational in the not too distant future, ensuring clubs globally can give back to the fans who have supported them during one of their greatest hours of need.

Mark Judges, Commercial Director, Sussex County Cricket Club

Digital Tickets: As the future is increasingly contactless, our digital ticketing offer is perfectly placed to transition and maintain limited touchpoints within the stadium for physical fan contact while increasing fan confidence.

Physical tickets: We know fans can’t get to games and whilst the game is on TV but behind closed doors, fans may still want that commemorative ticket either from this seasons ‘behind closed doors’ games or from historic games of note you might want to offer. In addition, as the requirement for contactless is increased and our digital ticket fulfilment is maximised, we believe that much in the same way the music industry has gone with digital and physical copies of albums, we could see the same appetite from sports fans…

Marketing Support

Throughout this period we’ve been highlighting some of the key work from across our client base including live streams, virtual events, memberships, streaming packages and anything in between.

When we are allowed to let fans know we are back (albeit most won’t need much help) we will be ready focus on getting season and match tickets into the hands of fans as quickly as possible. Also worth bearing in mind is those current ‘non-fans’ who are looking for live entertainment, are ready to be brought into the sports club environment.

We think this represents a great all round packaged offering to help everyone get back to having fans in stadium as soon as possible when safe and also help navigate these unprecedented times for our clients.

For any questions please contact us and we will be more than happy to talk about anything highlighted and any challenges you may be facing.