FC Barcelona ticketing by Emilio Sabadell

By March 13, 2014
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On February 28 Mr. Emilio Sabadell -Operations Director of FC Barcelona and ESSMA Board Member- talked about his ticketing strategy during the Universitat Pompeu Fabra Ticketing Seminar for experts and students in Spain. Below you will find a brief summary of his insights.

FC Barcelona used to have difficulties when talking about ticketing, as almost 85% of the capacity of the stadium belongs to members for the full season. This situation is unique in the sports industry, so the club needed to develop its own “ticketing engineering”. This situation has been a problem for several years, but since 5 years ago the club commenced a strategy to reverse this situation.

Even considering the lack of available tickets to sell, FC Barcelona today is the second club in generating revenue for this concept in Europe. Last season the club invoiced 45 million euros for this concept. The key was to improve the match day ticketing systems plus the renewal of other services offered. The “Camp Nou Experience” -which is the visit of the installations and the museum inside the stadium- has become the club’s ticketing superstar. Indeed, during the last years the Barça Museum has been in the top 5 most visited in Spain, not only for sports but also compared to history and art museums. The ratio from the ticketing coming from FC Barcelona is 65% from the match days, 33% from the “Camp Nou Experience and the other 2% is from other sports such as basketball or futsal.

FC Barcelona used to sell 50% of the tickets available directly, while the rest was delegated to ticketing intermediaries. Since the last years however, the decision was to invest in its own digital channels as the main conductor. Another innovation in the ticketing management of FC Barcelona has been the implementation of the technology known as “Seient Lliure”(empty seat in catalan). The “Seient Lliure” is an internet and mobile app which allows members who hold a seat to free it with an absolute flexibility, having all the information and feedback of the transactions in real time. With the use of this tool the liberation of seats increased four times in the last five years bringing more revenue to the club, because of the opportunity to sell these tickets to tourists.

FC Barcelona is still doing great efforts with its offline channels: the idea is to set up different selling points near the touristic places of Barcelona. With this strategy, the club has become a key reason to visit the city. The last step recently taken was closing a partnership agreement with international tour operators. So far this season, the sales coming from this channel are estimated around 2 million euros, an income that is absolutely new for the club.

During the presentation, Emilio Sabadell accepted FC Barcelona is just at the start its evolution in ticketing: he has set the tone for the development of the following concepts to stay on the right track:

  • Price management staff and professionalization based on a dynamic model that considers temporality, just the way airlines are working now

  • Transition from paper ticket format to digital ticket

  • The clubs must acquire an accessible policy about secondary markets to retake the vision and take control of this lost revenue

  • Integrate the B2C and B2B channels into an intelligent system based on a strong database, applied to CRM and Business Intelligence. Definitively moving to Big Data Analysis

  • A highly organized access control which facilitates the match days and helps in the security actions, saving a lot of money in optimization of operations

  • Continue the development from the local ticketing philosophy to an international ticketing service

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