The Red Sox have really been making a big push to modernize the game experience for fans. Recently, they launched a rewards program that offers some unique experiences to season ticket holders.
Through the Red Sox Rewards program, season ticket holders are given a card that can act as a ticket, can be used to make purchases at Fenway, and acts as a way to earn points that can be used towards meeting players, playing a game on the field, or watching a game from owner John Henry’s seats.(John Henry also owns the Boston Globe and BetaBoston.)
The program was piloted last year with 500 fans. This year the program has been expanded to all season ticket holders. Reward points can be earned by going to games, buying goods at the park, and even by checking in while watching the game on NESN or listening to the game on the radio.
The greatest reward, given to the two fans who earn the most Red Sox Rewards, is an all-expenses paid road trip with the team where the “Fans of the Year” fly on the team charter for an away game. There are also “Fan of the Month” rewards as well.
“Fans can’t buy these experiences, they are only earned by Red Sox Rewards members by earning points,” said Tim Zue, the vice president of business development for the Red Sox and vice president of the Fenway Sports Group.
While winning an auction to park in the players private lot or to watch a game from inside the Green Monster are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, there are two aspects of Red Sox Rewards that have some real, everyday implications for fans.
The first has to do with the elimination of paper tickets. For one, each season ticket holder gets their own RFID rewards card that they can scan at any of Fenway’s gates for entry into the park.
As part of the rewards card ticketing system, season ticket holders can download a mobile app that serves the same purposes as the rewards card. This means that some fans going to Fenway to catch a game now need nothing more than their iPhone or Android device to gain entrance to the park, buy a couple Fenway Franks (or Tasty Burgers!) and a few Harpoons, and, as season ticket holders, add to their Red Sox Rewards points total.
The mobile ticketing app option has actually been in place since last year, and it is not just limited to season ticket holders. Anyone with a ticket can use the digital ticketing system.
That’s right, anyone with a ticket can turn their paper ticket into a mobile phone e-ticket. This is made possible by a partnership with Tickets.com and their product called MyTickets Mobile. Tickets can even be added to iOS device’s Passbook for a few Major League Baseball teams.
The second new initiative is available to both season ticket holders and fans with individual game tickets. Ticket holders now have the ability to share their tickets without having to physically exchange paper passes.
For season ticket holders, this makes the ability to split tickets a much simpler process. Whoever is in charge of the account can add partners to the Red Sox Rewards program; each shared season ticket holder get their own rewards card to purchase goods and earn rewards points. Most importantly, each card serves as a ticket for whichever games the account lead selects to upload to the card.
The entire process of sharing tickets among friends or splitting them among partners of a business account is made that much easier.
Even more exciting is the ability of ticket holders to “toss” their tickets to anyone they choose.
I have often been in a position where someone has had an extra ticket but couldn’t get it to me without meeting outside the park or coming out of the game to physically hand over a ticket. If people take advantage of the MyTickets Mobile product, this shouldn’t be an issue in the future.
The data gathered by the whole system also lets the Red Sox better understand fans’ behavior. Tim Zue said the team isn’t sure how they will use the data to improve the fan experience down the line yet.
As Zue said, “You get a better understanding of our customers, a better understanding of what their likes, dislikes, and habits are. A part of this is getting a better understanding of who are customers are, and understanding their preferences will help us serve them better.”
The Red Sox partnered with UK company Fortress GB Ltd., for the Red Sox Rewards program. The company also operates programs for English Premier League clubs Arsenal, Fulham, and Liverpool (also owned by John Henry) among others and MLB’s Washington Nationals and LA Dodgers.