The beauty of subscriptions
In the photo: Jessica Goodfellow, Head of Customer Success at TicketCoTicketing managers all across the UK fear what next season might hold for their season ticket sales. Will the cost of living crisis boost churn? Nobody knows, and a subscription model may be just the remedy needed to stay ahead of the curve.
How can football clubs find new ways of selling season tickets to their most loyal fans when a lot of these fans are stressed financially and maybe cannot afford a full year's payment in one go?
According to Jessica Goodfellow, Head of Customer Success at TicketCo, subscriptions similar to how you pay for your Spotify or Netflix account is one possible and easily accessible solution to this challenge.
“By breaking up the season ticket price into 12 monthly instalments without including any third party credit card company or similar, the club gets to keep all the revenue and the fans can spread their cost throughout the year,” is her sound advice.
We’ll hear more from Jessica later on in this article. Prior to that, let’s look at where it all started.
A huge success from the start
Season ticket subscriptions are not a new concept. In fact it’s several years old, and the first known football club to offer this service to their fans was the Danish top tier side FC Copenhagen - who launched it back in 2018.
For this pioneer achievement, FC Copenhagen’s Ticketing and Customer Service Manager Mikkel Bjerre was shortlisted for the Unsung Heroes Award during Ticketing Business Forum 2022. Earlier this year he visited TicketingPodcast.com where he shared the club’s experiences from five years of offering subscriptions.
“From the beginning it was a huge success, much more that we had dreamt of and much more than we really dared to hope upon. It was especially the age group of around 15 to 24 years old that really started to purchase subscriptions. They had never purchased a season ticket before,” said Mr Bjerre.
“And that just really proved the case almost from day one, that this was something that really had some potential,” he added.
The subscription model also showed a massive positive effect on the club’s churn.
“What we saw already from the first winter break was that the churn rate, which for us means people unsubscribing, was really, really low. This has just continued throughout the years we have been working with subscriptions. The churn is really low because people are really loyal,” Mr Bjerre explained.
Please listen in here for the full podcast episode with Mikkel Bjerre
Big success in Norway
Another Scandinavian country with very positive subscription experiences is Norway, where TicketCo previously has tested the concept with pilot customers and now have launched it for everyone.
The first Norwegian top tier club who went “all in” on subscriptions was Viking FK, historically one of the most successful clubs in Norwegian football, and also one of the largest with a stadium capacity of 15,900.
They decided to make this their only available season ticket solution in their 2022 season, even before the product was fully developed, and they were richly rewarded.
“Viking+ has been a slam dunk for us, and the reception has been absolutely incredible. We have an increase of more than 20% compared to last year,” said Viking FK’s Marketing Manager Kjartan Salvesen back in April 2022.
“We now have a season ticket base of more than 5,000, which is very positive and an important foundation for our club. We still notice a demand from people who want to make use of Viking+ since this gives them access to their very own seat throughout the season for a small monthly fee,” he added.
Season ticket subscription is the future
To fully understand what their fans think about the Viking+ subscription model, Viking conducted a survey in November/December last year. Almost 1,000 replies were registered, and they showed some remarkable results.
- Compared to previous years the club saw a significant increase in first time buyers
- 70% of the respondents stated that they are happy with their subscription
- Only 10% are displeased
When interviewing a random selection of their 1,000 respondents, the most common advantage highlighted was the possibility of being charged a modest sum each month instead of one yearly payment.
For families in particular, this was mentioned as a massive improvement compared to Viking’s previous season ticket model.
TicketCo’s subscription model
After having spent all of 2022 developing, testing and fine tuning the product in close collaboration with clubs such as Viking FK, TicketCo launched subscriptions as a full-fledged feature for the start of the 2023 Norwegian football season.
The effect was overwhelming.
“The 2023 season was kicked off at the start of April, and it has shown remarkable strong numbers all across the Norwegian top tier league where all the major clubs now are offering subscriptions to their fans,” says Jessica Goodfellow.
TicketCo’s Head of Customer Success stays in close contact with all of these clubs, and she can’t see any reason why UK clubs shouldn’t have the same success with subscriptions.
“Massively increased sales in the middle of a cost of living crisis is extraordinary, and the ability to break up the season ticket into 12 monthly instalments may very well be just the remedy needed to offset the impact of the crisis,” is her conclusion.
“This recipe has proven to be a success in Norway, and it is now being made available for UK clubs who fear what the future might hold and want to offset churn by converting season tickets into affordable subscriptions.”
All that remains before a UK market launch of TicketCo’s subscription model is some fine tuning for UK specific requirements. This will be done in due time before the start of the 2023/24 season.
Also worth mentioning for those who might consider a subscription model but may be scared of the big change it entails is the fact that some of TicketCo’s Norwegian customers have released subscriptions for specific stands only.
“This is a great way of easing into the solution without going all-in. One of our Norwegian clubs have for instance chosen subscriptions for their standing supporters only. This way they are introducing flexibility and alternative offerings for their different groups of fans,” says Jessica.
Briefly how it works
The subscription feature will allow you to sell season passes through a subscription model, meaning your ticket buyers can pay monthly for access to your club’s fixtures and events.
“Subscriptions are built on top of the season pass feature, so you will first need to create an event, which is attached to a season pass, and then you can attach a season pass to your subscription,” says Jessica.
“Access to the subscriptions feature also includes tools to help you monitor your subscriptions, such as a history or journal window for each individual subscription, a dashboard where you can track overdue payments, and options for your ticket buyers to check their subscription status,” she adds.
A key advantage of the subscription model is that the season pass will not need to be renewed each year, meaning the ticket buyer can hold onto the same QR-code and reference code for multiple seasons given that they remain subscribed. Experience has shown that this radically will reduce churn.
When it comes to user friendliness, Jessica sees no reason to worry.
“The subscription QR-code and reference code can be scanned in on the TicketCo admin app, just as you would with a regular season ticket or matchday ticket. Moreover, the user scanning the item will be able to see the subscription status, thus ensuring that only your active subscriptions are allowed access to your events,” is her closing argument.
If you’re an existing TicketCo customer and want to learn more about subscription, please contact or support here
And if you you’re not a TicketCo customer but want to consider a swap to be able to utilise subscriptions and kill churn, please contact our ticketing experts here.