"The young generation wants more flexibility. So the question is: how can we serve this?"
26 June 2023
The MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg are looking back on a successful season in the easyCredit Basketball Bundesliga - the RIESEN made it to the semi-finals of the PlayOffs this year. Things are also going well off the floor: The RIESEN have been working with the EVENTIM.Tixx product platform since 2009. Starting with ticketing, the merchandising area is now also part of it. Together with Ticketing Manager Dennis Grudowski and Merchandising Manager Vera Seil, we look back on this time, talk about special events and which lessons will be taken into the next season.
Dennis, can you give us a general overview of your work in ticketing?
Dennis Grudowski: Sure, I'd love to. When I started here seven years ago, hard tickets were still the ultimate. Print@Home and mobile tickets were brand new and not very widespread. Digitalisation has certainly done the rest. It has to be said that we here at the RIESEN are always open to change and have always welcomed the new possibilities that exist - and even if you don't like to hear it any more, the pandemic has given us an additional big push here. Additional push comes from the food for thought we get from our consultant. The exchange is worth its weight in gold!
You have been working with Tixx for many years now. How do you rate the system?
Dennis Grudowski: Basically, the system is already very logically structured, especially since the backoffice update to Tixx6. The structures have become even clearer, click paths have been optimised and day-to-day business is faster as a result. But the personal contact with our consultant also makes our lives easier. I can always call or write an e-mail and really receive a sound answer or helpful advice extremely quickly.
What advantages do you see in the EVENTIM.Tixx platform for your fans?
Dennis Grudowski: In fact, we can respond to our fans individually. On the one hand, we can fully view and work with our customer data. There are no limits and we know our fans very well. In addition, we naturally ask ourselves the question "What does our customer want? This question already reveals major differences among our fans: season ticket holders are significantly older than single ticket buyers. While season ticket holders still prefer the plastic card, our single ticket buyers are fully committed to mobile tickets. With the Tixx product platform, we can cater precisely to these different and diverse needs. On the other hand, thanks to the white label solution of EVENTIM Sports, we have an online shop that is individually designed in our CI and always offers the right shipping option. With the start of the 22/23 season, we have also included the digital ticket as a shipping method - for the time being only for our sponsors on a trial basis.
And what do your sponsors say after a season of the digital ticket?
Dennis Grudowski: After a little time to get used to the system, our sponsors quickly got the hang of how to forward the tickets digitally and find the flexibility they now have very positive. The digital ticket is also highly valued internally: instead of sending out invitations for sponsors by hand, we now say: "Dennis, why don't you put the tickets for the sponsor in my account, then I can forward them?
Ok, for the sponsors, you have used digitalisation to facilitate the handling of tickets with the help of the digital ticket. Have you also identified needs in the other target groups?
Dennis Grudowski: Oh yes, we have. Unfortunately, the number of season tickets is decreasing for us as well. Although we can proudly say that our capacity utilisation in the league is always around 90 per cent, the effort per game is of course higher if you have to convince single ticket buyers to come back to the hall. That's why we asked ourselves - together with you - which models we could offer in addition to the season ticket. Because the younger generation also wants more flexibility. So the question is: how can we serve this? The result is a "swimming pool ticket". The fan buys X number of admissions with it and can use them flexibly. The key word here is flexibility, which we will have to grant in the short and long term, especially to our younger target group, so that they continue to come to our matches.
Season tickets are also an important target group. Do you also have the issue of flexibility that you have to fulfil?
Dennis Grudowski: With season ticket buyers, it's more mixed. Nevertheless, you have to create special incentives for them to convince them that a season ticket is a good idea for the next season. Even if the commitment of season ticket buyers is already higher, something always comes up and you don't make it to every game. Then the season ticket holders have the chance to sell on their seats via the integrated secondary market and don't have to pay for the game. Of course, one could say that the secondary market should only be opened as soon as the game is sold out. But we want to show the season ticket holder a certain appreciation.
You said that the change from haptic tickets to Print@Home and the addition of digital tickets were milestones for you as an association. Are there any other milestones that you were able to achieve with Tixx?
Dennis Grudowski: The sale of vouchers in the online shop was definitely another milestone. Before, the topic was always associated with a great deal of manual effort. Since the process has been digitalised and mapped in the shop, handling has become easier and more reliable. Fans no longer have to come to the office, but can buy their vouchers quickly and easily in the online shop. It was sometimes almost a bit embarrassing to tell people: "Hey sorry, you can't redeem the voucher online". In the end, if a fan came from further away, they had to send us the voucher by post.
Vera Seil: The topic of vouchers also leads on to another milestone, because these are not only redeemable in the ticket online shop, but also in our merchandising shop. Since last season, we have also been using the EVENTIM.Tixx white-label solution for our merchandising.
Could you outline why you decided to take the step of also running the merchandising via Tixx?
Vera Seil: The main motivation was to take the issue into our own hands so that we can be more flexible. We can offer projects like the UngehindertRIESIG T-shirt for our inclusion project in the merchandising shop for pre-order, so we only have to produce the quantity we really need. This is incredibly practical and we can work more sustainably.
Another advantage you offer us is your own single sign-on. The SSO was of great importance when we launched the new merchandising shop, because the majority of our fans didn't have to sign up again, but could simply log in with their data from the ticket online shop. This makes the experience in our shops as pleasant as possible for our fans and we also have insight into the merchandising activities.
What is your conclusion after the first season of Tixx merchandising?
Vera Seil: We started the first season as a test balloon. But we got to know the system intensively and found the optimal presentation of our products with the help of our consultant. I would say that we have established a good system that we can fall back on at any time. This leaves us time for the essentials, namely to think about which products we need more of next time, which trends we can take with us and can we become even more sustainable?
Now we have talked a lot about the actual state. Do you have plans for the future?
Dennis Grudowski: In any case, we want to use and expand the synergies of the products we are provided with even more. The goal is to become even more digital and to minimise expenses. In ticketing, we would like to expand the offer for our different target groups.
Vera Seil: Speaking of merchandising, we would next like to integrate a POS system so that stationary sales can be handled digitally. In the long term, we would also like to identify and offer target group-specific offers here.