Leafs turn to cloud for executive ticket tracking

Sports builds rapport among Canadians of all stripes. And for big corporations that bring customers to games, it also helps build business relationships.

Whether the millions companies spend on tickets and boxes is worth it, however, is a question that some executives find hard to quantify.

To help prove they’re making a good investment, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., the company that owns the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, has just subscribed to a Web-based ticket and expense tracking system to be offered free to its enterprise clients.

California-based Spotlight Ticket Management Inc. said this week MLSE is the latest sports organization to acquire its SpotlightTMS system, which lets premium suite holders enter and track their ticket inventory, monitor whether or not tickets have actually been used and, ultimately, decide whether it was worth it to purchase them.

“The teams recognize that certainly the most popular organizations do a great job of encouraging corporate sponsorship and suite ownerships, and often long-term relationships,” says Richard Dym, chief marketing officer at Spotlight. “[But] at the end of the day, companies need to earn a return on their investment.”
Executive suites at the Air Canada Centre, where the Leafs play, are much sought-after venues for executives to mingle, network and most of all, keep their clients happy.

SpotlightTMS, says Dym, can provide a way for the team to help “their most important customers to really track the value of their investment in the venues and also…to help them with any compliance requirements around those tickets.”

For large companies buying tickets in bulk, part of determining this value means figuring out exactly how many of the tickets are used. If they don’t, they risk wasting a lot of money, Dym says.

“It’s kind of fascinating. Just to give you an idea: annually about $16 billion is spent by businesses on sports entertainment tickets, and that represents in the neighbourhood of 24 million tickets. But the fascinating number is about 40 per cent of those tickets go unused. It’s really pretty incredible when you think about it.”

Part of the reason for this is due to the sheer volume of tickets that need to be tracked. In the past, companies would use more basic methods like spreadsheets for inventory. But this has proved inefficient for companies that want a better grasp on the big picture, he says, something SpotlightTMS can provide.
The NHL’s Calgary Flames offers Spotlight to its executive customers at the Saddledome, including oil services giant Halliburton Co. “Before Spotlight our system of collecting information and distributing tickets was very labour intensive,” wrote Jennifer Holm, senior marketing specialist at Halliburton in Canada, in an e-mail message.
“It consisted of a central person responsible for updating a spreadsheet with current events, e-mailing select managers about upcoming events and entering who attended into spreadsheets.

“Spotlight provides a central depository for all this information,:” she said. “We have the ability to capture the frequency of departments and employees using the suite, what clients we are targeting and if this relationship-building translated in to increased sales for us.”

Dym says the software works by letting people in an organization request a specific ticket after viewing available inventory, which is updated in real time. Once approved, the tickets can either be sent electronically or delivered to the person who requested them.

“And then, following the event there’s a follow-up mechanism that goes out to whoever requested the tickets to have them come back and say, ‘ok, yes, this person actually attended the event,’” he says.

Dym says his company counts “37 professional sports organizations,” including NHL, NFL and professional basketballs teams among its clients.

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