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Monumental Sports uses fan data to increase ticket sales via cloud platform

Washington Capitals fans (Credit: Getty Images)

  • Initiative designed to further monetize collated information on Capital One Arena visitors
  • Wizards and Capitals owners better able to offer personalized promotions to fans and guests
  • Since October, more family packs for Wizards games sold than in entire 2018-19 campaign

Monumental Sports & Entertainment – the ownership group of the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals, the National Basketball Association’s Washington Wizards and the Capital One Arena – has successfully further monetized its ever-increasing fan database with its new Cloud Fan Insight Platform.

Introduced ahead of the current NBA and NHL seasons in October, the Insight Platform is the result of three years’ work by Monumental’s business intelligence unit. It builds on the ownership group’s data warehouse, created in partnership with data management company SSB, to form an in-house cloud-based platform which pulls together data from ticketing partner Ticketmaster, food and beverage partner Aramark, and merchandise partner Fanatics, as well as customer relationship management (CRM) platform Salesforce and email management tool Eloqua.

All this information, which is updated on an almost daily basis, is narrowed down into a myriad of tagged sub-sections, such as Demographic (gender, age, etc.), Behavioral (email opens, how tickets are purchased, etc.), Consumption (number of tickets, concessions purchased, etc.), Preference (seat location, merchandise sizes, etc.) and Insight attributes (predictive around future purchase).

As a result, Monumental executives have been able to provide more personalized promotional offers to fans and guests in a far quicker and more efficient manner than in the past. With a click of a button, for example, Monumental can offer family passes to a Capitals game to all guests who have attended a Disney show at Capital One Arena in the past year, or sell a Wizards co-promotion with Budweiser to guests who have recently bought beer at the venue.

If ticket sales are lower than hoped for an upcoming game, Monumental can now send out multiple offers to fans depending on their needs and likes, rather than one blanket message to everyone in the database as previously happened.

With increased efficiency, Monumental has increased its sales-focused email sends by 265 per cent year on year, with increased unique opens up by 153 per cent and clicks up by 95 per cent. In turn, ticket sales have risen as well. As of mid-January 2020, Monumental sold more family packs for Wizards games for the 2019-20 season than the entire 2018-19 campaign.

“We made a big investment from a people and cost perspective to build out the initial warehouse and the thing we were trying to get out in front of which is the ‘now what?’ question. Which is, ‘OK, we’ve brought in all this data and information in one place so now what?'” Adam Heintz, Monumental senior vice-president of business intelligence, tells SportBusiness.

“We wanted to figure out ways to monetize it, to sell more tickets, to sell more food and beverage. For example, one of the things we aimed to do was: if we could improve the [per capita] fan spend in the arena – on food and beverage, and merchandise – by $1 then that is worth in excess of $1m in incremental business to the company each year.”

Heintz says Monumental is exceeding expectations with the initiative already. “I’m very happy with the progress we’ve made and with the number of offers we’ve been able to get out to fans,” he says. “The really big success is driven by the teams and how well they perform and what we want to do is put ourselves in a place where we’ve set up the ecosystem where in the Capitals’ case, capitalize on as much success as possible and maximize revenue. For the Wizards [who have under-performed this season]…when the team is in a better place we will be in a good place to upgrade those plans to full or partial plans.”

Washington Capitals fans (Credit: Getty Images)

Co-promotions with commercial partners

The Insight Platform is similar in structure to the ‘Executive Huddle’, the SAP-powered venue-management platform at the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium, which pulls data from nine streams – including attendance, parking, food and beverage, retail, ticketing and social media – to interactive dashboards in a specially-outfitted suite.

The Executive Huddle allows Levi’s Stadium executives to visualise every aspect of stadium operation and respond to issues or opportunities in real time.

“The Executive Huddle is a little bit different,” says Heintz. “Ours is intended to capitalize more on the whole database. We have several million records in our system of people who have come to games, come to events, signed up for various emails and our goal is to maximize the revenue and get as many people to experience the games, the teams, the events…What the folks in San Francisco have done is create that game day war room; ours is intended to be more of a marketing insight platform.”

The Insight Platform has additional commercial benefits, such as the co-promotions with Budweiser, which have enabled the beer company to target fans more directly. Heintz believes other Monumental sponsors will want to get involved in these targeted promotions, which increase the efficacy of the partnerships.

“That is another output which is a real positive that has come out of this…we see a lot of opportunity there,” Heintz says. “A similar case can be made to all the consumer brands that we work with, like Pepsi and Geico and others, to really target and get in front of the audiences that they want to.”

Going forward, Heintz and his team will look to use the platform to better target high-value customers, knowing exactly what their likes and purchasing habits are, as well as potential fans.

“For example, there could be season-ticket member who is at risk of not renewing their season ticket and we can see that they are a merchandise purchaser and noticed they bought a youth hockey jersey and a slightly bigger one the following year,” Heintz says. “If I can get out in front of that and drop the next size up jersey at that person’s seat before a game, these kind of surprise and delight experiences can really help make experiences better and build a more permanent and emotional relationship.”

There has been widespread interest in the Insight Platform both from other NBA teams, like the Chicago Bulls, and outside the league. Heintz gave a presentation on the initiative at the recent NBA Sales and Marketing Meeting in Miami, while NHL teams, Nascar and even some Australian Rules football teams have reached out to Monumental to find out more.

Monumental – which is owned by Ted Leonsis, the billionaire former AOL senior executive – includes many other sports properties, such as NBA 2K League’s Wizards District Gaming and the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. The Insight Platform is ready to be used for the ownership group’s properties, as well as future ones.

“In building this system, we’ve allowed it to be scalable so we can add new properties. If the group were to go out a buy a new thing that we will participate in then we’re all set to continue to scale that upwards,” Heintz says.

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