By DON MURET
Published December 01, 2008 : Page 11
The San Francisco Giants have signed a deal with a software company that enables them to change single-game ticket prices at any time.
The club hired QCue to help find the right price for selling 2,000 seats in AT&T Park’s outfield bleachers and upper deck, the last ones to sell for Giants games, said Russ Stanley, managing vice president of ticket services and client relations. Stanley declined to disclose the financial terms, and as of last week the two parties were still negotiating the length of the contract.
QCue, a one-year-old firm based in Austin, Texas, connects its system with Tickets.com, the Giants’ ticket agent. QCue joins Stratbridge, Eloqua and other data managers that teams use to crunch sales numbers to determine the right price to sell those tickets in low demand.
QCue’s formula, similar to Stratbridge’s, plugs in factors such as team performance, opponent, starting pitchers, weather conditions, day of the week and gate giveaways. The Giants will use those results to raise or lower ticket prices as late as the morning of a game for tickets purchased online, at ticket kiosks, by phone and at the box office, Stanley said.
The plan early on is to adjust prices once a day for every home game. “We have the potential to change every price in those [seven] sections every day,” Stanley said. “We could go up or down. There may be a day we do multiple changes and we have that ability.”
The price change will most likely be 25 cents to $1. The Giants believe even a decrease that small will make a difference as they attempt to move slow-selling seats without alienating season-ticket holders who pay full price for their seats, Stanley said.
There are other clubs reducing ticket prices on game days to fill seats, said Matt Marolda, founder of Stratbridge. Marolda, whose company has deals with 40 teams and leaguewide contracts with the NBA and NHL, declined to identify specific clubs.
Stratbridge was among the first to develop computer programs to help pro teams implement dynamic-pricing strategies before and during the regular season. “No teams are as aggressive as the Giants,” Marolda acknowledged.
The Colorado Rockies, whom the Giants talked to before doing their deal with QCue, use a less analytical form of dynamic pricing to fill Coors Field’s 50,449 seats.
The team does not feed boutique software into its Paciolan system (soon to be known as Ticketmaster Irvine) but does rely on historical data and team performance before setting prices for single-game tickets, said Greg Feasel, the Rockies’ senior vice president of business operations.
“We have so many people who live and work downtown that wait longer to make a decision,” Feasel said. “A lot depends on the weather.”
Depending on day-of-game demand, the team lowers its price by about $1 for seats in the upper deck and $4 to $6 for other seats when the Rockpile, the popular family section above the batter’s eye in center field, sells out.
Kids younger than 12 and adults older than 55 can buy tickets for $1 in the 2,300-seat Rockpile and others pay $4 to sit there. “We don’t want to lose those fans waiting in line if they can’t get those tickets,” Feasel said.
In San Francisco, QCue tested its software without selling tickets at the end of the 2008 season, and identified a three-game series in early September against the Diamondbacks for which the team could have decreased prices slightly to move tickets.
“It gave us a good feel for how this would work,” Stanley said.
The Giants were out of the divisional playoff race and “there wasn’t a whole lot of demand” for those games, said QCue CEO Barry Kahn.