TicketCo increased digital ticketing at Kilmarnock FC from 15% to 85%
By Gregg McEwan, Head of Marketing and Commercial Operations at Scottish Premier League club Kilmarnock FC
It is a special year at Kilmarnock FC as we proudly celebrate the 150th anniversary of Scotland’s oldest professional football club. We have used the anniversary to continue to engage with our community and further build the Club brand. We needed to take the club in a new direction commercially and bring it into the 21st Century, while respecting its history.
Partnering with TicketCo for ticketing and event payments has been a key part of our progression and the impact has been instant and remarkable. A huge 85% of our tickets sales are now done via cashless digital transactions, up from just 15% before.
Digital transformation and ticketing simplicity
Partnering with TicketCo has revolutionised ticketing at Kilmarnock and I can envisage TicketCo disrupting the football industry across the UK and Europe.
We have made it brutally simple to buy tickets online, by introducing the TicketCo platform. You can now do it with six clicks of the mouse, or even less using your smartphone. It is cutting edge tech and I’m delighted with the impact it has had at the club.
Our tech savvy supporters have embraced it and they have helped educate fans who aren’t as keen on the shift, along with our community engagement team. We have now got supporters who never purchased tickets in advance buying them on their phones. They love the convenience.
Fans embrace TicketCo
Most fans used to pay cash at the turnstile. Now we no longer sell tickets for cash on the turnstiles. We have a pod for people to buy on the day, as we cant alienate the supporters who will decide to walk up on the day. this is a massive area in football, and clubs can’t make it difficult for fans who decide last minute to come along to matches. People don’t like change and a ticketing system must to be subtle and user friendly, otherwise people won’t use it. We spent a lot of time customising the TicketCo system and making sure it was effective for football fans. Our fans are the lifeblood of the club, so we had to get their buy-in to the system and they have embraced it.
Currently, 85% of our ticket sales are done digitally via TicketCo, either online or on the app. It is an incredibly high figure. Last season it was the complete opposite, with just 15% of sales taking place online. It has turned our ticketing purchase experience around and the change has surpassed the expectations of the Board and senior management team.
As mentioned above, the demand for cash tickets will always exist, because football has always had a ‘walk up’ crowd of people who decide to attend a match at the last minute. They wait to see what the weather is like and other deciding factors before attending. So, we have retained the cash option in order to best maximise attendance. Interestingly you cannot do that at a music concert, but having worked in that industry, the supply and demand rules are very different. We must respect our market.
I was attracted to the TicketCo system because it is efficient, quick and mobile friendly for customers. As a Club, we need to provide easier access and make it as simple as possible for fans to buy tickets for the match. Through the online ticketing system, we are now able to offer a fast and simple solution for fans to purchase tickets to come and support Killie. The e-tickets mean that there is no need for printing, as fans can simply use their smartphones to gain entry via the turnstiles.
The TicketCo system allows us to ensure that we have implemented a platform that is future proof. It made commercial sense to invest in a system that will still be in use in 5 to 10 years’ time, as cashless purchasing is increasing year on year. TicketCo is always improving as its in-house tech team work on new functionality and the latest trends.
Additionally, commercially we have improved fan access to our games and tickets. The success of the partnership means we can now have serious conversations internally on how we can use tech in other areas of the football club to improve further. This is becoming more apparent through our new membership programme, which allows us to offer fans with season tickets and privileged seats access to on demand tickets ahead of others.
Tech delivers operational improvements
Having a modern ticketing system has also enabled us to plan and operate more efficiently. For example, when asked for expected attendances, they systems figures are now likely to depict a more accurate estimation. The stadium flow is also shown in a real time basis, so that our safety team can monitor access more closely. Operationally we are now able to plan match-days better in terms of how much staff and catering is required. Additionally, we have created more capacity in our ticket office team to help with other duties and removed the burden of handling so much cash.
Exciting brand that can transform football
We conducted a competitive pitch process to source the right ticketing and payment provider for us. TicketCo was the most exciting brand we met. The user experience is simple and that was a big tick, along with the ability to upsell. TicketCo struck me as being contemporary, progressive and adaptable and our first impressions have proved to be right.
TicketCo adapted and adjusted the system for us to support some bespoke items we required. We worked hard together to make sure that the system was effective for commercial football operations, considering the extensive measures that needed to be in place to combat issues like access control and infiltration. Having worked in the music industry previously, the modern approach to ticketing here is somewhat pioneering. Football is an industry that is adapting to change and TicketCo is an exciting brand that will transform ticketing in the football industry.
Partnering with TicketCo formed part of our modernisation strategy in the summer. We wanted to improve the matchday experience at Kilmarnock FC and as part of that have refurbished the hospitality suites and created new packages. We have also had our best-selling home kit since the 90’s. We also wanted to improve attendances and engagement levels. So, we created a new website that is quick, modern and fresh. Once we had done that the new ticketing system was the next piece of the jigsaw. TicketCo fitted into our strategy of being modern, while not forgetting tradition and allow for reduced cash gates, which must remain in football in order to meet on the day demands.
Building a club database
Now we have a great platform to build from. Via the TicketCo system we are building our own database that the club has full control over. This will enable us to analyse supporter behaviour and trends and create bespoke offers. We also plan to introduce a loyalty scheme and begin to utilise TicketCo’s ‘up-sell’ function which will enable us to offer other items for sale along with tickets at the point of sale. The future proof technology means that in time, we will be able to maximise the full potential of the system. We owe our supporters a massive thanks for embracing the new system and having the patience to persevere with the changes this brought with it. The increase in online sales / usage to 85% shows that commercially this has been a worthwhile exercise and we are delighted to be able to offer our fans more exciting developments soon.