This week on the XLIVE Interview Series we sat down with Russ Stanley, Senior Vice President – Ticket Sales & Services for the San Francisco Giants who had a historic run, winning the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014. Russ shared some insights into reaching new markets, ticketing technology, what keeps him up and night, and how the playoffs affect his job.
Can you tell us about the day to day roles and responsibilities for the Senior Vice President of Ticket Sales & Services for one of the most accomplished sports franchises in the world?
The best part about my job is that every day is different. Some days I am putting out fires and other days I am able to focus on long term planning. We manage all games and concerts at AT&T Park as well as our Spring Training Facility. Each day is full of challenges and I love it!
The Front Office marches in the World Series Parade and Civic Celebration in San Francisco on Wednesday, October 31, 2012.
How did technology change the ticketing industry landscape in 2017? Which technology came and which technology left?
We have been focusing on moving toward a digital ticket world. Won’t be long and all venues will be ticket-less. One of our major offseason projects, the ticketing team worked on was automating the comp ticket fulfillment system. We also altered and re-launched our Ball Park Pass which, is a monthly program that allows fans access to the ballpark but not a seat location.
For those who don’t know, can you explain dynamic pricing and how the Giants use it to sell more tickets and maximize revenue?
We use daily data changes to properly price our tickets. In 24 hours the team can win, the weather can change, starting pitcher announced, and sales will have occurred. All of these factors impact the price for an upcoming game. We have a pricing team that looks at opportunities daily and a great partner in Qcue. Their software allows us to manage all games in about an hour.
What are some creative and proactive marketing and sales efforts and tactics the SF Giants use to sell tickets and reach new markets?
We have a really creative Special Events team that helps turn soft games into big promotions. They have put together some fun theme nights that include Marvel comics, Metallica, Grateful Dead, and Star Wars. It really adds to the excitement at the ballpark.
What partnerships do the Giants have to help facilitate and increase ticket sales? With which ticketing companies do you work?
We partner with Tickets.com as our primary ticket provider. They help us deliver our ticketing initiatives and run our core ticketing functionality. We also use Salesforce as our CRM to manage customers, Qcue to dynamically price, Stubhub for our secondary sales, and Tableau for reporting.
What’s your job like in the offseason?
I think the off-season is the hardest. That is when all the planning for the upcoming season takes place, along with our sales and retention teams going at full speed. We start the first day of the off-season with zero tickets sold and try to hit 3,000,000 by opening day.
Many professional sports teams are seeing a decline in ticket sales to millennials. What are the Giants doing to reach this audience?
We rolled out “Ballpark Pass” last year. This provides fans with access to the ballpark for all games in a given month. Once in the park we provide upgrade opportunities and gathering space. We have found some fans want to come in and stay a couple innings then go elsewhere. They are consuming our product differently.
What do you think about some new ticketing startups who are using Blockchain to help with safety and security for secondary resale markets?
It is in its early stages but is gathering steam. This will be the future just not sure how quickly we see adaption.
Madison Bumgarner rides in the World Series Parade and Civic Celebration on Friday, October 31, 2014.
Does your job change depending on how well the Giants are playing, and how is your job different in the playoffs vs. the regular season?
The job does change based on team performance. We all look good when the team is winning. It’s when we don’t that we have to get more creative and try lots of new ideas. The good news is most of the executive staff was here when we were at Candlestick. If you could sell there you can sell anywhere!!
The job changes exponentially for each round of the playoffs. There is more demand and less inventory as we progress from playoff to World Series. Octobers can be crazy but it’s what we dream about. Fortunately we have had some experience so our ticketing staff knows what to do and delivers a great experience for our fans.
What’s the best part of your job, what’s the most challenging, and what keeps you up at night?
The best part was being able to be in a parade down Market Street with my parents! I also enjoy the family environment here. Some of my co-workers are also my best friends. We have grown up together. I never get bored or watch the clock. I stay awake at night thinking about what we need to do to be successful.
Can you give us a bold prediction for the ticketing industry in 2018?
How about Giants win World Series!?