How small business can learn from big sport

Small business can learn from ticket decisions taken by the GAA.  Unexpected bonuses, when passed on in the right manner, can buy a loyalty that it is hard to put a price on. Rob Hartnett of Sport for Business takes a look at the psychology of giving up revenue and the rewards it can bring.

Ticket prices for the replay of the All Ireland Hurling Finals on September were reduced from €80 to €50 in the stands, from €40 to €25 on Hill 16 and that a number of juvenile tickets were made available at a cost of €10.

It has been welcomed as a gesture towards hard pressed fans and is in keeping with the GAA ethos of remaining strong through catering to its club and community groups.

Ticket pricing for all major Championship games up to and including semi finals includes the family discount which means a family of two adults and three children could have attended any match this year for less than €100.  The Final is a different case but the demand for tickets for those two games of the year always far outstrips supply and for many the ability to attend falls into the ‘priceless’ category.

Attendances at matches have held up well through the recession as people set aside money to follow their counties, perhaps as a timeless escape from the harsher realities of life away from the sideline.

Ticketing policies have improved significantly through partnership with and the availability of sales through Centra and Supervalu stores.  This has expanded the reach and increased the value of a relationship with two key sponsors.

Why then is it important that the GAA has made the decision to reduce ticket prices.

As with any business loyalty and repeat custom have to be paid for.  Squeezing every penny with no regard for the ultimate cost is a short term solution and the GAA realise that a replay on the biggest day of the year is a bonus they can utilise.

The sport will benefit more from an equally strong demand on tickets for the replay as there was for the first game.  Empty seats after such a wonderful first occasion would make fans think that perhaps being there is not as important as the ads all year have told us.

The reality is that being there is that important.  Allowing people to do just that, and to bring the fans of tomorrow is an investment in the future, paid for by the flight of a well delivered free, deep into injury time.

Few businesses operate on the scale of the GAA but all can learn that giving something back to the customer when it is not fully expected will be appreciated and can yield a far greater return in the long run than the discount on the list price given up.

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