Providing Raiders fans with full digital experience
The benefits of digital ticketing stretch far beyond the realms of simply cutting down on matchday queues and providing supporters with a smooth purchase experience.
In ice hockey, digital ticketing allows clubs to grow and develop their existing databases, it encourages last-minute sales, helps to reduce enquiries from fans and allows for simplistic and instant reporting.
Raiders Ice Hockey Club (IHC) has joined a growing list of clubs including Swindon Wildcats, Sheffield Steeldogs, Bees IHC and Oxford City Stars by partnering with TicketCo, who provide supporters with easy-to-use cashless ticketing.
Chief Executive John Scott explained turning digital has revolutionised how supporters connect with the club via stress-free admission and HD quality live streaming, which Raiders provide too.
Here, he explains more.
Raiders’ partnership with TicketCo was established in February 2021 after several months of discussions when the club decided to live stream its Spring Cup fixtures which were held behind closed doors due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The Spring Cup was a huge hit among domestic and global viewers, which led Raiders to broaden its partnership with TicketCo by providing fans with a cashless, mobile-first, digital ticketing solution.
“I struggle to buy a pair of socks without reading several online reviews,” joked John. “I’m a cautious purchaser, so understanding TicketCo’s services and how they would positively impact Raiders was important to me.
“Our fanbase has grown from under 200 supporters each week to close to 1,000 at its peak. An efficient ticketing provider is therefore an essential part of making matchdays run as smoothly as possible.
“Having a location to direct fans towards to purchase tickets is also an important part of marketing the games and adding that all important ‘buy here’ link is essential as you attempt to entice them to a game with images and multimedia hooks.
“This is our first season with TicketCo and we are delighted with the results thus far.”
Raiders play in the NIHL National League, British ice hockey’s second tier. The club also operates a second team in the NIHL Division One South.
Tickets for both teams are available via the TicketCo website and mobile app. Ticket buyers are sent QR codes in emails and text messages which are scanned at turnstiles to allow for a quick and efficient admission process.
“At a recent game, we had 300 fans scanned in before our doors even opened,” said John. “Before our partnership with TicketCo, those 300 people would have had to queue outside the rink and hope they could get scanned in time before the warm-ups started. That was extra stress on the scanning team as well as inconvenient for the fans.
“Using the TicketCo app, we can have a dozen stewards scanning fans in all at the same time if we wish. If there are any issues, the TicketCo team are straight on the case even though we play on Sunday evenings.
“The response from our supporters has been great, we’re very pleased with the smooth experience from the club and fans’ points of view.”
Hybrid ice hockey
Raiders have live streamed their games for several seasons, but it was not without issues and those problems peaked during the Spring Cup when streaming became so vital and viewing numbers exploded.
“Streaming was so important to the club when we competed in the Spring Cup amid COVID-19 restrictions back in February,” said John. “Before we partnered with TicketCo, our stream was a disaster – we are not happy to admit that but it is unfortunately true.
“For supporters unable to attend the game physically due to health, travel or financial reasons, they are able to pay £10 and watch the game on their TV at home. The stream is available to view in 249 countries worldwide and features a full commentary team, graphics and replays.
“Other clubs in the competition streamed via TicketCo so we made the move and within two days we were able to provide our supporters and fans from visiting teams with a trouble-free cost-effective streaming solution.
“Since partnering with TicketCo, I don’t recall one complaint from supporters. It’s why we decided to provide our ticketing for fans attending games physically via TicketCo too.
“Having everything under one roof is very helpful for the club and our fanbase.”
A ‘no brainer’
John believes clubs not exploring the power of live streaming and its ability to upscale fan engagement on a global scale are missing out.
He added: “I don’t understand why teams would choose not to stream. Don’t get me wrong, you cannot beat watching sport live – especially ice hockey.
“But there is a whole new audience to tap into via live streaming. This could be supporters on a global scale, away fans who cannot travel or even your home supporters who might not be able to get to the rink for several reasons out of their control.
“Rinks also have a finite capacity for physical fans in the building. When that ceiling is reached then streaming can provide that extra fan base that otherwise would need a bigger building.
“While distancing is still in our minds, streaming can provide the more cautious fan with their hockey fix from the comfort of their favourite armchair. Some say coming to a sporting event like ours is a habit and having a streaming service allows that habit to be kept alive.
“It’s important to remember this pandemic isn’t over either, and fans who have COVID-19 or those isolating cannot attend. Without streaming, they would not be able to support their team.
“All our fixtures are filmed for analysis and league review purposes, so we might as well make our production available to the public.”
Live streaming should be viewed by clubs as a fresh opportunity which does not detract from the product physical supporters experience.
Raiders IHC has welcomed between 40 and 50 viewers onto its stream for each match this year. For John, that represents £400 to £500 the club would not have previously had and money that can be invested back into the team.
He explained: “I don’t believe streaming games costs the club bums on seats. At this moment, we understand some people are still hesitant to attend live sport in the company of hundreds of people.
“It’s why all our season ticket holders can swap their physical ticket for a streaming pass to any game if they wish. Live streaming has granted supporters greater flexibility.
“Viewing figures are growing steadily and it’s adding hundreds of pounds to the club’s account each week that we otherwise would not have had.”
Buy your tickets now!
Physical and digital tickets for Raiders IHC’s next home game against Swindon Wildcats on Sunday, November 14, are available to purchase now.
Face-off is at 5.15pm.