The importance of returning fans
It’s almost that time of year in the NHL. You know the one. The time for the big season ticket renewal push. Emails going out, account reps calling, raffles happening, and a partridge in a pear tree. For fans, it’s the time of year when they weigh the opportunity cost of the expense, the benefits of being a ticket holder, and their level of investment in the team. For teams, the level of importance of this push can’t be overstated. In fact, there is a chance that it may be underestimated by some teams.
A 2018 Forbes article states that “it can cost five times more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing one.” What this means for a hockey team, or in fact any sports team, is that retaining your existing ticket holders is not only important because it guarantees at least maintaining a baseline number of account holders in the coming year that you can build upon. It doesn’t even mean that marketing costs are somewhat more controlled than if you had to make it up with new ticket holders. It means that the cost is monumentally higher in trying to attract new ticket holders than it is to keep the ones you have coming back.
The cost difference comes to mean a whole lot as far as profits. As that same Forbes article goes on to say, “increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.” This should be a huge point of consideration for a sports team deciding what portion of their budget they will spend marketing to existing season ticket holders as opposed to potential ones.
So what does this mean for the practical approach that teams should be taking in this merriest time of the year? Give your current season ticket holders as many reasons as possible to keep coming back. This means incentives, benefits, and making them feel part of the community, part of the team. This means making them feel important and appreciated. This means discounts and special events. Yes, there is a cost associated with all of this effort directed at them. But considering the comparative cost of trying to replace non-renewing fans with new ticket holders, it should be a no-brainer.