Major League Soccer (MLS) has kicked off a new season with expansion into new cities and growing fandom. Yes, it’s an exciting time for soccer clubs in the U.S., including FC Dallas. The team has experienced increased attendance over the last four years, but they also know that success isn’t guaranteed.
“Dallas is a great sports town, but it’s also very challenging with multiple professional teams competing for fans’ dollars,” said Kris Katseanes, vice president of ticket sales and service for FC Dallas/Toyota Stadium. “To succeed, our fan engagement efforts need to be innovative and relevant.”
“Keeping fans happy and introducing a new ticketing system don’t always go hand-in-hand, but Veritix (now AXS) offered us a self-service model with 100 percent control over our messaging, ticket offers and data,” said Katseanes. “The platform best positions us to own the relationship with our customers.”
With only a few home matches under its belt on AXS Ticketing, FC Dallas has already transitioned nearly 70 percent of season ticket holders and fans from paper tickets to AXS Ticketing’s Flash Seats® ID-based digital tickets. With Flash Seats, FC Dallas’ fans now have the ability to manage their tickets online and enter Toyota Stadium with their electronic ID (driver’s license or credit card) or the Flash Seats mobile app without the hassles of traditional paper tickets.
The move from paper to digital tickets
So what are the secrets to FC Dallas’ ability to transition fans from paper to digital tickets? Katseanes shares the three keys to the team’s success.
1. Provide upfront communication
FC Dallas realized that a major ticketing change would cause some anxiety among fans, particularly season ticket holders. Therefore, the club was extremely upfront about their move to digital tickets and communicated information in late 2014.
“Nearly four months before the season started, we notified season ticket holders that instead of receiving their ticket booklets, all tickets would be available online through their Flash Seats accounts,” said Katseanes. “Fans could view their tickets ahead of time, giving them plenty of time to get familiar with the new experience.”
2. Address fear and dispel it
FC Dallas invited season tickets holders to attend a pre-season game at no cost to them so they could practice using Flash Seats. The event was the perfect platform to showcase the convenience of digital tickets and address fans’ fears and concerns as they entered the game.
Additionally, FC Dallas’ sales staff hosted in-person and phone call sessions with fans to answer their questions and/or set up their Flash Seats accounts.
“Digital ticketing is the wave of the future, and we need to take advantage of innovative technologies that will enhance our customer experience and move our business forward,” said Katseanes. “But we also realize that we need to help our fans adapt. You can’t make a change like this and expect people to embrace it overnight.”
3. Promote alternative solutions
For FC Dallas’ home opener at Toyota Stadium, about 70 percent of fans (a total of 8,500) entered the event using Flash Seats, which drastically reduced box office lines and will call pick-ups. However, instead of swiping their ID (a credit card or driver’s license) to enter the stadium, nearly 60 percent of those fans entered with the Flash Seats mobile app.
“For the first match, there were a few fans who were concerned about scanning their credit card or driver’s license when entering the stadium, so we promoted the Flash Seats mobile app as a less invasive option,” said Katseanes.
FC Dallas isn’t even halfway through their first season with the new ticketing system, but they’re experiencing tremendous results due to the amount of time and effort they’ve put into ushering customers through the new process and technology.
“It’s natural for people to worry about change, even if it’s ultimately an improvement,” said Katseanes. “The best thing we can do is coach them through the changes and offer multiple opportunities to help them adjust.”