Is it Time to Bend Your Customer Loyalty Program?

Did you read Kevin Helliker’s article “Loyal Fans Are Batting Cleanup” in the April 30th WSJ? Actually, it was the second to the last paragraph that caught my attention:

“Like a few other teams, the Royals are bending the golden rule of season-ticket sales, which awards the best seats to those with unbroken longevity. Long-time holders who bowed out of Kauffman Stadium this year can retain their priority status for 2010 by going to as few as 12 games in 2009.”

The Royal’s had expected to retain 90% of their season-ticket holders; but the economy is wreaking havoc on their goal as the real number is coming in at about 75%. According to Mark Tilson, Royals VP of Marketing:

“I’ve never seen so many longtime customers – some with season tickets dating back to 1969 – saying they have no choice but to bow out this year.”

In my opinion, bending their season-ticket sales rules this year is a great move that will pay big customer-loyalty dividends in the future. In my blog post “How to Engage the 2009 Customer Mindset” I touched on today’s cash strapped consumers “sensitivity to total price – not total savings.” I also noted that under the current economic conditions, it was a good time to “unbundle your products and services and stop trying to force the customer to buy the complete package.” The fact that the Royals will give their customers an opportunity to retain their priority status for 2010 is truly showing their fans that they understand the current economic situation. Terry Loose, a season-ticket salesman for the team stated:

“I’ve literally had my customer’s say it came down to buying the tickets or feeding their families. I told them to feed their families.”

Although I live in the Cincinnati Reds backyard, the Kansas City Royals’ get my vote for major-league customer focus.

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