Frustrating. Time-consuming. Infuriating. Futile.

We could go on, but those are just a few words that describe some of interactions with sports teams when we’re trying assisting a corporate client with buying tickets. And we are talking about a specific system some teams are using for buying – the deposit system.

The deposit system can be done very effective and yield great results forcing buyers into inventory they might not have looked at originally, upselling to more events while providing a customer the inside track.

At Ticketnology, it’s our job to help our clients better manage their corporate event ticket programs, whether it’s NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB season tickets or tickets for the next Taylor Swift show. We do whatever it takes to ensure our clients can attend the events they want (and help them resell or donate tickets they can’t use). We frequently interact with team sales representatives who handle B2B premium season, series or single event tickets — and often, those transactions could be far more productive. In addition to a lack of consistency across different teams, the sales processes are inefficient — and ineffective, leaving many fans behind — the very fans teams need to survive.

Now don’t get me wrong – some teams, have it nailed down and the execution is flawless. They understand the corporate customer journey and they want it to be the successful. That first touch point is critical to earn a corporations trust and loyalty. And companies are very loyal to teams and organizations that prove this early on.

Here’s a Recent Ticket Deposit Transaction Gone Woefully Wrong:

About 90 – 100 days before a team’s opening game, we contacted its sales rep to buy a premium suite for three specific nights for a client. The rep indicated we could proceed with the $15K sale but then placed us on hold and told us he couldn’t sell us just three suites. The team had been performing well, and its tickets were in high demand. We asked about purchasing a series or season tickets instead but were told they were sold out of those allocations. So single ticket inventory was available, but not season or series. Then, the only “solution” he could offer was for us to pay a $1,000 deposit for each of the three games — and the deposits would instantly be refunded if anything went wrong.

Scratching our heads, perplexed that we could make deposits for specific dates but not buy tickets in a package and within a reasonable timeline to the start of the season, we agreed to pay the three $1K deposits. The rep gave us a time slot to book the tickets, which occurred about 2.5 weeks later. When the call came, he told us no premium seating was available for our three dates, but they had non-premium group seats — a no-go for our client. Stunned and annoyed, we asked him to process our refunds. We then received the “I need to talk to my manager to see if I can process them” answer. Oh boy, that was not the answer we were expecting or were we okay with.

The Bottom Line: Where Is the Customer Focus?

We realize this futile experience wasn’t the sales rep’s fault — he was only following the confusing, ineffective process he was given by his employer, the team management. But, the bottom line is as a buyer, we were misled, our time was wasted, and we ended up empty-handed. Plus on the team operations, the poor person in finance, who is now processing refunds to upset clients. Where do those payment processing fee’s end up – in the sales departments budget?

Nonproductive transactions like this that are beyond our control prevent us from providing premium white-glove service to our clients. And for every tough experience like this, we have ten rockstar teams whom we work with. The teams wo have adopted new policies are retaining more and more corporate buyers.

Customers are becoming increasingly accustomed to instantly booking events, making online purchases and receiving fair refunds. Consumers, particularly the younger generations, yield tremendous buying power and will expect — no, demand — better customer service. The deposit system this close to a
season doesn’t make a lot of sense in the operations process for a team. The mindset that a deposit system increases demand of other ticket products is flawed by how many clients they are losing in the heartbreak of not having inventory for as many deposits as they accepted. Imagine all those refund process fee’s being used to enhance the customer journey in the buying process from the beginning.