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Visual Analysis Boosts Celtics Ticket Revenue

Daryl Morey, senior VP of operations and information at the Boston

Among the three toughest challenges in optimizing business are analyzing your products, your market and your potential competitive responses, says Daryl Morey, senior vice president of operations and information at the Boston Celtics. Yet all three of these factors were pretty much off the table when Morey joined a new ownership and management regime at the professional basketball team in 2003.

"The product is the team, the market is Boston and competitive responses are fairly muted," Morey explains. "You sell most of your tickets to diehard Celtics fans and there isn't much price elasticity in terms of other sports teams or entertainment options."

To improve ticket sales, which account for 80 percent of the team's revenue, Morey needed a better sense of ticket buyers and sales trends. TicketMaster, the Celtics' ticketing vendor, offered synchronized data combining telephone and Internet sales, but there was no way to do real-time analysis other than crunching the numbers in spreadsheets.

To get a real-time view of sales, revenue and trends, Morey tapped StratTix from hosted service provider StratBridge. A customized version of the vendor's integration and analysis software, StratTix, is designed specifically for sporting and entertainment ticketing, and it provides multiple views for event marketing and sales analysis.

At the simplest level, the software gives the Celtics views of seats sold-or-not-sold (green or red) by game in the TDBanknorth Garden. A percentage-of-potential-revenue view reveals the extent of discounting based on group sales and one-off promotions. Snapshots over time reveal trends and responses to special promotions such as after-game concerts, ticket discounts and the ever-popular bobble-head nights. Multiple game views let planners see sales trends and revenues over, say, the last 10 games of the season.

Real-time visual insight has enabled the Celtics to promote more effectively and discount more judiciously. For example, multigame ticket packages were easy to set up in the preseason, but it was next to impossible once the season began and the arena was partially sold. "If we have a hot Lakers game and I want to package it with four other games on the fly, now we can easily find seats that are open across four games," Morey says.

Now in its first season of use, StratTix will make a "six-figure" impact on revenue, Morey says, but he adds that the visual history and analysis of this season's ticket sales will lead to even better pricing decisions for next season. For example, the team knew aisle seats sold first, but it didn't recognize the extent of the demand. The team also learned that seats near the players' entrance could demand a premium.

"Without a visual sense of who was coming into the building and where they wanted to sit, it was like playing chess without a chess board," Morey says. "You could play chess with written notations in Excel, but it makes a big difference if you can actually see the demand and the revenue trends."