The Orlando Magic are innovating the season ticket membership with their unique virtual currency, Magic Money. This unique offering gives fans the freedom and flexibility to personalize their season ticket experience, transforming what was once considered a rigid product into a more adaptable and valuable opportunity.
“We’re transforming what was tickets to every game to a customizable membership that starts as tickets but can be flexed into better seats, a bigger block of seats, dinner at our club-level restaurant, experiences, retail merchandise or whatever you want it to be,” said Jay Riola, Magic EVP Strategy & Innovation.
The Development of Magic Money
Magic Money began as a pilot program in the 2014-15 NBA season. During this initial phase, fans could only use credits for unused tickets to upgrade their seats. However, over time, Magic Money has evolved into a comprehensive virtual currency that offers fans a wide range of benefits. Now, fans can use Magic Money to not only upgrade their seats, but also purchase additional tickets, concessions and merchandise or gain access to various team events such as press conferences, player autograph sessions, locker room tours and more.
Working in collaboration with Ticketmaster, the Magic continue to look for ways to elevate the fan experience and improve the efficiency of their organization.
Today, Magic Money is a collective effort between the Orlando Magic, Ticketmaster and Shift4’s VenueNext. Within Account Manager, Ticketmaster facilitates the flexibility of returning and upgrading seats while communicating the fan’s Magic Money balance to VenueNext for in-venue purchasing at Amway Center. Additionally, with Ticketmaster, fans can return and upgrade their seats, all from the Orlando Magic app.
Understanding Fan Preferences
“The development of this innovation really came from customer insights that we learned through analytics,” said Riola. Using ticketing data and predictive models, the Magic are striving to understand what really impacts a member renewal, as well as the initial purchase.
Through fan surveys and CRM data, the Magic found that the most common reason for not committing to a season ticket membership is because there are too many games to attend.
“We saw the number one behavioral predictor of whether a season ticket holder renews or not is ticket utilization. Understanding this, we felt we should give our members a better way to utilize their tickets for games they can’t or don’t want to attend, instead of just telling them to resell or give them away.”Paul Moletteire, Magic Vice President of Ticket Operations
With Magic Money, the organization is gaining further data visibility into the preferences and behaviors of its fans. By utilizing a virtual currency, the Magic create a digital footprint of what their fans prefer and how they use their membership. “It’s a great touchpoint tool for us. We use it to better understand our fans individually and to create target segments for marketing campaigns,” said Riola.
The Magic can pinpoint fans with high Magic Money balances and send them an email or push notification to encourage them to upgrade seats at certain games. Additionally, the team’s retail stores have noticed incredible business during the last month of the regular season as fans use their remaining Magic Money balance before expiration.
Retention rates have improved, especially with younger-tenured fans. The Magic have also seen higher adoption rates, meaning fans either returned more games or were active in managing their account using their Magic Money.
“I love being a season ticket holder. The advantages are amazing. Magic Money is a tremendous benefit. If you decide you aren’t going to attend a game, you can turn your tickets back in and get Magic Money. You can build your fund to upgrade your seats, purchase the abundance of “experiences”, treat yourself to the courtside club lounge, or buy food, drink and/or souvenirs. Magic Money is like having extra cash in your pocket.”Elaine Stewart, Magic Season Ticket Holder since 2019
In 2022, just over 50% of the Magic’s season ticket accounts returned games, with most returning between one and five games. In certain situations during the 2022-23 NBA season, the Magic increased revenue by selling the returned tickets at a new market value.
Continuous Innovation Alongside Ticketmaster
The Magic experimented with bonus return opportunities during the 2022-23 NBA season, where fans received more Magic Money when they returned their tickets for the most popular matchups.
These bonus returns were an instant success, and the Magic have been working closely with Ticketmaster to fine-tune and apply them on a larger scale. In the 2023-24 NBA season, the Magic plan to implement the bonuses for specific price levels.
“The Ticketmaster team made this a turnkey solution. What normally would have taken hours is now done in a matter of seconds,” said Moletteire.
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