A ticket to the New York Yankees vs the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.

How Online Eligibility Verification Benefits the Sports Industry

Posted on Sep 25, 2015 · 5 min read

Recently, teams like the Seattle Storm, the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the St. Louis Blues have been testing programs to offer exclusive student or military offers online. While preventing fraud and protecting truly exclusive offers is still the most common reason that organizations like the PGA TOUR, Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain Resort and the American Century Championship choose to implement online eligibility verification solutions, awareness of the additional benefits is growing. In addition to gating offers, reducing costs, and increasing attendance, working with a verification service provider can also create a better user experience for fans.

Eligibility verification software prevents fraud by ensuring that only qualified customers can redeem special offers online, via mobile, or at the box office, opening up great opportunities. Online eligibility solutions also solve several pain points for venues by eliminating the need for third party marketing communities or ticket consignments, and reducing bottlenecks at ticket booths. With the right online eligibility verification solution in place, ticketing platforms and venues can increase attendance and create a better customer experience for patrons.

Implementing online eligibility verification creates a VIP experience for fans while lowering overhead. Many venues see the value in giving complimentary tickets, incentives, or special treatment to select audiences, but the logistics are a nightmare. In order to get military or student pricing, most fans are required to buy their tickets in person at the ticket booth so that they can show ID. However, there are dozens of types of military ID, and many students’ ID’s don’t even have an expiration date, requiring ticketing employees to review credentials on-site creates long lines, and even longer waits. Some venues and resellers like BestFanTickets.com have tried using third-party marketing communities to sell tickets online, but these require patrons to leave the online shopping funnel to validate their status on a site where they will receive marketing messages for other venues’ promotions. Using eligibility verification software online or through a mobile app makes it simple for qualified customers to buy their tickets or season-ticket packages online, without leaving the shopping experience, and without getting distracted by competitors’ offers.

After being verified online, qualified customers can receive custom, personalized vouchers or tickets that can’t be re-sold but can be printed at home or shown on a smartphone at the gate. Birdies for the Brave issues verified military personnel customized vouchers for select PGA TOUR events that they can print at home and show at the gate. The complimentary or discounted vouchers also give verified members of the military community access to Birdies for the Brave Patriots’ Outposts, live concerts, and fly overs. Because the military attendees were pre-verified online before the event, tournament organizers knew how many fans to expect, and sponsors like Humana and GNC, who provide free food and beverages for the Outpost hospitality tents, were able to plan accordingly.

Online eligibility verification also helps venues’ marketing teams. Because fans’ eligibility can be verified before they can redeem a special offer, marketers can publicly broadcast the offer far and wide using PR and social media. In close-knit communities like the military community, college campuses, or schools, word spreads fast, and it is easy for a special offer to go viral. 81 percent of service members learn about exclusive offers through word-of-mouth, and 98 percent of college students find out about student pricing through social media like Facebook or Twitter. After introducing online military verification and ticketing this year, Richmond International Raceway sold out of their military appreciation tickets two weeks before the event for the first time ever. In previous years, the raceway required military customers to get tickets through offices on military bases or show up at the ticketing booth with military ID in hand. With online verification and ticketing available, the process was so simple and demand so great, that Richmond International Raceway actually introduced a brand new, exclusive package to keep up with demand. Venues that already offer military pricing to active-duty service members by selling tickets on military bases can expand their reach by working with a verification solution provider to verify veterans, military retirees, National Guard and reservists online.

Other racetracks like Auto Club Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway have found that online verification simplifies and speeds up admissions at the gate and streamlines the process for fans. The Florida State Seminoles, the Oregon Ducks and over one hundred other colleges and universities offer student discounts by using ticketing platforms like Paciolan that can verify college student enrollment by working directly with the college or university. Pre-verification is instant and easy for customers, and an improved user experience increases repeat attendance. It also lowers overhead for venues and removes the pain point of consignment by pulling directly from inventory. One speedway reduced their cost by over $1.50 per student and military tickets in 2014 by selling those promotional tickets directly.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Terren in Virginia

Jake Weatherly by Jake Weatherly