Making ticketing smoother and more efficient
By Gregg McEwan, Head of Marketing and Commercial Operations at Scottish Premier League club Kilmarnock FCFootball ticketing is complex, but fortunately there are clubs out there who are investing time and efforts into making it smoother and more efficient. Like the Scottish top tier side Kilmarnock FC, who have partnered up with TicketCo with the goal to develop The Digital Ticketing Assistant – where everything you need is only one click away.
In this interview Kilmarnock’s General Manager Gregg McEwan explains why the club have chosen this path, and how they think it will benefit Scottish football.
When Kilmarnock FC decided to go all in on online ticket sales a few years back, the impact was both remarkable and instant. From a modest average of 15% digital transactions, the oldest club in the Scottish Premiership suddenly saw an average of 85% digital tickets for their home matches at Rugby Park on the west coast of Scotland.
TicketCo increased digital ticketing at Kilmarnock FC from 15% to 85% was the title of the first-person piece Killie’s Head of Marketing and Commercial Operations back then, Gregg McEwan, wrote to explain this success. His story was published at the TicketCo blog on March 2, 2020, only a few days before Covid struck and changed the world as we knew it up until then.
During Covid Kilmarnock FC also was relegated to the Championship for one season, but now they’re back in the top tier and their fans are back at the stands. Life is back to normal. Or is it?
We’ve caught up with Gregg McEwan to check.
Strong growth amongst those under 21
“There have been lots of changes within the club since 2020,” says Mr. McEwan who is a living proof of these changes himself as he’s now General Manager at the club.
“We have made changes within the staff, identified new sponsors and partners, and maybe most importantly: we have made vital changes to our demography.”
“We used to have a following of fans with a rather high average age. There’s nothing wrong with that, but to succeed in the long run you need to recruit a young fanbase as well. Today our fastest growing segment is those under 21, which is good for us commercially, as it helps futureproof the club.”
“Another thing we’ve succeeded with is to grow our fan base outside of Scotland. We now have a significant following in countries such as Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany and America, and even though we don’t see these fans regularly at Rugby Park, they are strengthening our brand and contributing to the massive uplift we’ve seen when it comes to our merchandise sales overseas.”
According to Mr McEwan, Kilmarnock is now selling over 7,500 shirts yearly compared to 2,500 only a few years back. With scarfs, gloves, and a wide variety of products on the top of that, alongside the bespoke Killie LTD range, the retail offering is now an important part of Killie’s revenue mix.
The 5 biggest obstacles of sports ticketing & how to overcome them
The importance of storytelling
“What all of this comes down to is basically storytelling. You need to be more than just a successful football club to succeed commercially as a football club today. You need to be a great storyteller, you need the right channels to communicate through, and you need the right products and sales tools to utilise your brand.”
“Wrexham AFC is probably the prime example of just this within British football right now. They’ve gone from being a National League side with an average of 3-4,000 attendees to becoming a global brand. Through social media we have a dominant outreach in the Ayrshire district, with over 94% reach within the area. These figures come from being able to correctly target the area and ensure our media output is both entertaining and informative. This in turn has a positive impact on the club commercially and helps us protect the longevity of the Killie brand.”
“One of the things we are focusing on now is to strengthen our revenue production via upselling on the top of our match days tickets. This is something I’m confident our fans are ready for. 90-95% of our season ticket holders are using their mobile phone as their season ticket, so they are open to modern ways of purchasing and collecting tickets and goods. We have a duty of care to our supporters to try and improve the purchasing process from start to finish in every aspect of the buying journey.”
Digital away tickets
“Another great improvement we’ve recently tested with great success at Kilmarnock is digital away tickets. This is a product that most ticketing managers across British football will admit is strongly desired, but isn’t always easy to implement or manage. For our League Cup semi-final match against Celtic at Hampden Park in January, TicketCo helped us map the entire away section as a pilot project to test out digital away tickets, and it worked out well, ultimately reducing the hassle our fans would face to secure and purchase their tickets.”
“We have a strong partnership with TicketCo, and we are really appreciating the relationship. As one of TicketCo’s bespoke innovation partners we have been working closely with the company and its people for years, and we look forward to watching the relationship continue to grow in years to come. Our common goal is to develop a modern, robust system that will be efficient, user friendly and reliable for our fans, and we are slowly but steadily getting there – one step at the time.”