Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tim Lincecum Is an E-Ticket Ride

An example of dynamic ticket sizing.

SoSG EK advanced the idea last year: Why not charge different ticket prices for different ballpark experiences? And that's essentially what the Giants have been doing this season. From The New York Times (via Deadspin):

The San Francisco Giants are experimenting with a possible solution — software that weighs ticket sales data, weather forecasts, upcoming pitching matchups and other variables to help decide whether the team should raise or lower prices right up until game day.

The Giants are the first major league team to test the software, which some industry analysts say could transform the way teams adjust to the ebb and flow of the season, not unlike how airlines, hotels and rental car companies — which also use dynamic pricing — adjust to changes in the travel industry.

Many teams have various ticket prices for the same seats, altering the dollar amount based on the opponent, the day of the week and the time of the year, but those variations are set before the season and not altered. The Giants, by being more fluid, are taking the concept a step further.

(No word on whether the Giants will offer refunds when Brian Wilson pitches.)

Although SoSG Sax has called this practice the rabbit hole of "dynamic ticket pricing," it's difficult to justify charging the same price for a Monday game against the Nationals as for a weekend game versus the Cubs. But does it make sense for the Dodgers?

The Dodgers already have a successful fixed-rate model with their All-You-Can-Eat options, but their increasingly complex ticket pricing scheme can be intimidating to the uninitiated. And those potential ticket buyers represent a large market that needs to be wooed with two things: a simpler pricing plan and cheaper tickets.

One advantage the team would reap from the variable model would be the ability to promote lower "get into the stadium" prices. The Dodgers currently charge the seventh-most expensive ticket in the majors at $29.66. But as recently as 2006, walk-up tickets cost as little as $6 ($4 for children under 12). It would be a marketing coup to be able to say that again.

So all eyes will be on the Giants' ticket sales throughout this season. Will the Dodgers see anything that could improve their ticket pricing structure, or will 2010 see the continuation of promotions like Mannywood and Dodgertown? Stay tuned.