Chiefs prepare for mobile ticketing

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Sports

March 28, 2018 - 11:00 PM

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs

ORLANDO, Fla. — Chiefs fans planning to attend Arrowhead Stadium in coming seasons should prepare for a bit of a change in how they think about their tickets. Team president Mark Donovan divulged during the NFL’s annual meeting that the Chiefs hope to go to 100 percent mobile ticketing in the near future.

Donovan said all of the Chiefs’ single-game tickets were distributed that way over the second half of last season, and so were all playoff tickets purchased by non-season ticket holders for the home wild-card loss to Tennessee. By the end of the season, 40 percent of those attending the team’s games entered using their phones instead of using paper or printed-out tickets, he said.

“It forced (fans) to adapt,” said Donovan, who added the Chiefs implemented the change so they could test the technology before ramping up efforts to get fans to download tickets digitally in 2018.

Donovan said the Chiefs hope to see the number of mobile-ticket users increase to 70 percent next year, largely because the team plans to promote the method more in hopes of expediting fans’ entrance to the stadium.

Interestingly enough, Donovan got to see first-hand last season how much faster the process is when fans use their phones instead of paper options.

“I spent about an hour and a half at our last home game last year as a ticket-taker because I wanted to see how it worked, and it was awful,” Donovan said with a chuckle. “But once I figured out how to scan … paper tickets, they’re a pain in the butt. It’s hard, they’re wrinkled, they’re wet. The phones are the best. They read a lot quicker.”

Donovan came away from the ticket-taker exercise, which he did at the CommunityAmerica Gate at Arrowhead Stadium, convinced that digital is the way to go. He also felt a real appreciation for those who do the job.

“It really hit me — that ticketing staff, those people at that gate, some of them had been in there 20 years,” Donovan said. “Fans were coming in and they would choose their gate by the ticket taker. They’d go, ‘Hey!’ and high-five and do their handshakes. I got to witness that and see the value in that.”

But that’s not the only change coming to potential ticket buyers this year. Donovan also announced the Chiefs have decided to expand the popular Bud Light Gameday Pass, which debuted last season. They sold out those 2,000 tickets — which were mobile-only and provided fans with randomly selected upper-deck seats the day of the game — in a matter of weeks

Donovan said the Chiefs haven’t finalized how many Bud Light seats they will attempt to sell in 2018, but he is comfortable projecting “more than double” the number of seats they made available that way last season will be sold that way this season.

“The demand was incredible,” Donovan said. “And it worked really well.”

Donovan said the Chiefs’ season ticket sales at the moment are right where they expect them to be in a league where fewer people are opting for season-long commitments to their favorite teams.

“Across the league, you’re seeing some reduction in total season tickets,” Donovan said. “Last year we went down a little bit in season tickets, but we went up in total tickets sold, and that goes back to the fan.

“My son and my daughter — 13- and 15-year olds — probably will never be a season-ticket member to a professional sports franchise. There is a much larger portion of the people we’re talking to do today who are going to be ticket-holders to the Chiefs who are going to be less likely to be season-ticket members.”

That helps explain why, in an era in which more people are choosing to stay home and watch games on high-definition televisions, the Chiefs continue to focus on fan experience and value in hopes of luring people to Arrowhead.

“We’re getting a lot better at selling single-game tickets,” Donovan said. “There are teams in this league that I talk to a lot that have strategically, every single year, reduced the size of their seating, and they’ve done it because they want the experience to be better, because they want to create more opportunities for different experiences. So they take out seats to create a social platform. But you’ve got to continue to drive value there.”

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