FAU Doubles Women’s Sports Ticket Revenues in Y1 of Staff Specialization
April 29, 2016
Selling women’s sports is a challenge, but is also one of the biggest opportunities for growth at many collegiate properties. Coaches for these sports are often responsible for selling group tickets to their games and curating events for their programs. They are focused on their primary objective of developing their team, not ticket sales, which is why success in this area has been minimal.
Michelle Christie, Women’s Athletics Specialist for Aspire’s Florida Atlantic University (FAU)’s Fan Relationship Management Center (FRMC), is responsible for selling all women’s ticketed sports.
“In the past, coaches had to do a lot of work promoting ticket sales, but now we can take it off their plate,” Brian Treiser, Director of Ticket Sales & Service for the FAU FRMC said. “We constantly share ideas and communicate. It takes the pressure off of them knowing we are committed to selling women’s sports.”
Coaches responded when they saw the increase of butts in seats and deployment of successful marketing tactics for their programs.
“Coaches want to see the hustle and work ethic as if you were an athlete on their team,” said Christie.
In the first year of FAU implementing a Women’s Athletics Specialist, the FRMC doubled women’s ticket sales revenue.
“The coaches started opening up and referring groups to me instead of handling it all themselves,” Christie said. “Coaches typically have the closest relationships with potential prospects, and it really helps me build personal relationships with the groups when the coaches are referring them to me, as opposed to building a relationship through a cold call.”
It was intentional to locate Christie close to the coaches in the athletics building to build that bond. She is in the same building as the women’s soccer and volleyball coaches and the daily, face-to-face collaboration between Christie and the coaching staffs are crucial.
Aspire holds bi-weekly meetings with the coaching and marketing staff to brainstorm ideas for selling women’s sports to the community. It allows the team to align their strategies to drive the needle on attendance and exposure.
“We’re always picking the brains of coaches for what they see on the road from other schools promoting the sport,” Treiser said. “We take what other programs are doing well and tweak it for FAU.”
The first year FAU had the specialized role in place and dedicated to selling only women’s tickets there was a rise in women’s soccer attendance by 188 percent.
In 2015, FAU’s women’s soccer team had its most successful season since 2005, which included nine home games. The Owls had a “league night” for each home game where a particular youth soccer league in South Florida took over the stadium.
- The ball girls for both halves were selected from the ‘group of the night’.
- The group participated in the international walkout.
- The group played a mini-game during halftime.
- There were prize packs which included tee-shirts and future game tickets.
- There were raffles involving the group being hosted at FAU Soccer Stadium.
Many youth leagues added two individual tickets per player for FAU soccer as a part of their season registration fees as an incentive. This was an easy way to cultivate the connection between the university and local soccer programs.
“We use one league coming out as leverage to encourage other associations to attend. We educate them on how the FAU women’s soccer program can be an added value to their organization,” Treiser said. “One league ended up purchasing 1,500 tickets.”
The immediate benefit for FAU and the FRMC is the ability to capitalize on these new relationships by cross-selling these buyers to other sports.