In an effort to boost sales revenue, the Athletic Association recently decided to outsource ticket sales to a local marketing agency, the Aspire Group. Despite a recent increase in season ticket sales for the upcoming football season, sales have followed a declining trend for several years now. Last fall, the AA only sold approximately 24,000 out of the 36,000 season tickets available to the public.
The Aspire Group, which has managed a similar program at Arizona State University, is expected to lead efforts to boost ticket sales for both the football and basketball teams. They are expected to maintain call centers and communication lists to solicit recently graduated students, alumni and Atlanta citizens to become a part of the Tech community by supporting athletics. The deal is expected to bring in over $2.2 million in the next three years.
The company is headed by Bernie Mullin, former president of the Atlanta Hawks and Thrashers and a prominent figure in the field of sports marketing. Dan Radakovich, Director of Athletics, explained the reasoning behind the decision.
“We decided to go with Aspire because of the different methodologies and ideas they have to boost ticket sales. Plus, to do this on our own would be very difficult since we’re in a recession, and hiring staff and taking care of the logistics would be very difficult financially,” Radakovich said.
Radakovich noted that having a company that dedicates full time to selling Tech products should improve ticket sales significantly. However, Tech is expected to retain control over ticket plans and the pricing model. The deal is expected to be a commission-based venture for both parties, and although the agreement is expected to last for three years, both parties will reserve the right to evaluate the contract on an annual basis.
“In the past we’ve had people who have sampled our offerings but didn’t necessarily go for the full pack of tickets. With this deal, we want to get those people interested in buying season tickets and then broaden our appeal to the rest of the Atlanta area,” Radakovich said.
Over the past few years the AA has tried to expand ticket sales through various TV, radio, and newspaper ad campaigns. However, those programs did not achieve the desired results as sales continued to wallow. As a result the AA experienced over $3.5 million in budget cuts and recently laid off a dozen employees.
Representatives from Aspire are expected to start working on Tech’s campus in mid-June, with a staff of about 15 people. Many of the changes that will take place as a result of this deal will largely be behind the scenes, not affecting the student viewing experience in any way.
“This deal is purely on the marketing side, but we do have a lot of new plans for the upcoming year in terms of student tickets,” said Radakovich.
While this deal is not going to affect students, Radakovich noted that in a separate initiative the ticket sales for the upcoming football season would be handled through an online system. Students will now be able to reserve their tickets online during the week of the game, eliminating the need to submit student vouchers and pick up tickets at the ticketing office. Students interested in sitting in a block seat arrangement would be required to pay a premium fee of $35. In addition, Buzzcard access will be implemented at the gate for all students. According to Radakovich, this will expedite the ticketing process both during and before game day and make it easier for students to get tickets to games.