With the April 30 launch of the anticipated Smashville Rewards program, NashvillePredators.com took the opportunity to sit down with Chris Parker, Predators Executive Vice President, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, to learn more about the program that helps Predators season ticketholders earn points toward great rewards.
NashvillePredators.com: These days it seems as if most people are familiar with—or already involved in—rewards programs through interactions with airlines, credit cards and the like. What’s your sense of how popular such programs are?
Chris Parker: Rewards programs in general are very popular right now. People look for ways in which they can further benefit from their buying patterns and behaviors. So whether it’s at grocery stores, airlines, credit cards, hotels, or online shopping sites, everybody wants to know that they’re going to get some value-added benefit for repeat behavior like coming to that location or site. So absolutely, the programs continue to be more and more successful, more and more prevalent. And more and more companies, therefore, are getting involved with some type of rewards program.
NP.com: Why start a Predators rewards program?
CP: The simple fact is that we’ve got such a loyal fan base, and we want to continue to provide that loyal fan base and that growing fan base with an opportunity to receive not only the best prices when it comes to tickets, but also the best benefits. And the way you offer the best benefits is through a rewards program. So the season ticketholder who has two season tickets or four season tickets, they can accumulate points, relative to their purchases. Those points can then be transferred. They can buy other tickets to Predators games. They can buy concert tickets. They could exchange them for merchandise or concessions. They can use them for once in a lifetime opportunities—a ride on a Zamboni, a meet-and-greet with a player, an autographed item, tickets to one of our Foundation initiatives like the Gala or the golf tournament. It’s somewhat limitless in terms of the opportunities that can be presented through the creation of an awards program.
NP.com: How unique is this concept among sports teams?
CP: It is very unique. There was a period of time about five or ten years ago in which a rewards concept did appear in sports, but not to the extent that it has now. This is a robust, best-in-class platform. We’re one of the first in professional sports to do it. The model here is very similar to that of an airline or a hotel. So for season ticketholders who participate in and subscribe to a rewards program like that, it’s going to feel very familiar. You’re going to see how to accumulate point. It’s going to be very easy to understand how you redeem those points, how you assign those points, how you transfer those points. It’s very simple, very straightforward because you’re likely already used to it. And we’re talking with and utilizing one of the best-in-class partners for the creation of this template. It has tremendous expandability over the long term so I think we’re very, very excited about what this will mean to our season ticketholders first and foremost, but then what it will mean for our organization in other areas and other options down the road.
NP.com: How can season tickeholders earn points?
CP: At the end of the day, the program is designed to reward season ticketholders for doing virtually anything and everything associated with the Predators and Bridgestone Arena. So whether it’s the renewal of your season tickets, or the action of going out and adding a Fifth Third Bank checking account or credit card, or coming to a bunch of concerts at the arena, or supporting our Predators Foundation—all of these are ways in which you can earn points. So again, it is that loyalty, that repeat behavior, that belief in what we’re doing as an organization that allows the season ticketholder—the fan—to continue to earn points for all of their commitments across a myriad of opportunities to support our organization.
NP.com: How can they spend points?
CP: If you want to redeem points on a regular basis for discounts on concessions, or dinners in the Patron Platinum Club, you can absolutely do that. Or if you want to pick up a handful of hats at the Pro Shop for some customers, that’s easy. No problem. I would call that one of the regularly scheduled activities that you would expect with a rewards program. More importantly, if you want to save up points and you want to use those points to provide your son or daughter with a Gnash birthday party, you’ll have that opportunity. If you want to provide a customer with a suite night, if you want to entertain a group, you’ll be able to accumulate your points and redeem them for a suite night. If you want to do that once-in-a-lifetime thing for your husband or wife—a ride on a Zamboni, a meet-and-greet with a player, an autographed item—you’ll be able to accumulate those points and those will exist both in an auction form as well as in a standalone form. Then you can redeem X number of points for an autographed player item. All of that’s going to be possible. And clearly you’re going to see a lot of the regular stuff—the concessions and the merchandise—but you’ll see a lot of the auction and once-in-a-lifetime point redemptions as well.
NP.com: How do you see this program growing?
CP: I see that this is a program that ultimately we can take and expand from season ticketholders into group buyers, into individual buyers, and we can show people, very much like an airline or a hotel that says, “You just stayed at our hotel. If you had a membership with us, this is how many points you would have earned.” Or, “You’ve just flown on the airline five times and had you been a member, here’s how many points you would have earned—essentially a free ticket.” We can do the exact same thing with this platform for people who are individual concert or individual Predators ticket buyers. And I ultimately see this as being an expandable program that allows us to help solicit, recruit and develop season ticketholders lon