Looking to capitalize on the game day demand, or lack thereof, for some tickets, baseball’s San Francisco Giants will reportedly launch a dynamic pricing initiative next season where they set walk-up ticket prices on the fly.
The plan would allow the team to change the price of a ticket, up or down, for anywhere from about 25 cents to $2 based on how well or how poorly certain seats are selling, according to BusinessWeek. Currently, only about 2,000 upper deck tickets, which are traditionally tougher to sell depending on the game, would fall under the plan.
Dynamic pricing has long been a staple of the airline and hotel industries, as companies change prices for airfares and rooms based on the season and demand. But, the Giants would be the first Major League Baseball team, and perhaps the first big-time North American sports team, to implement such a plan.
Not that teams have not been kicking around this idea for some time. In fact, teams have been using a form of dynamic pricing for years by charging more for some games and less for others. For example, the Boston Red Sox might charge more for tickets when the New York Yankees come to town than what the Sox might charge when the Seattle Mariners play at Fenway.
The difference is that those prices are set before the season, whereas under the Giants plan they intend to change prices for some tickets in real time. Live Nation spoke about the ability to implement dynamic pricing for live shows when it introduced details of its new ticketing operation earlier in the year, and the former senior director for ticketing for the New York Mets also once expressed interest in exploring the concept.
“We’re going to experiment with this a little bit in a few sections of the park,” Giants team President Larry Baer told BusinessWeek. “What this really is, is the ticket business is changing dramatically and quickly. There’s a chance we might wake up
10 years from now and tickets will be priced according to demand, like the airlines.”
Overall, most Giants ticket prices are staying flat or dropping slightly for 2009, according to the team, which failed to reach 3 million tickets sold for the first time in nearly a decade.
How the new dynamic pricing model will ultimately affect ticket brokers is unknown, but in the short term brokers will likely see little difference because the plan is only for game-day sales and the pricing changes will be minimal, partly because the Giants are only using the program for a small percentage of seats.
“The team raising or lower prices a couple of bucks means nothing,” said one broker who doubts the new system will have any immediate impact him or his colleagues. The Giants will study the program at the end of the 2009 season before making any changes to it for 2010 and beyond, but the uncertainty of the current economic landscape would likely keep the team from doing any too drastic.
“Now, if they actually really understood what they were doing, probably in a couple of years, they would change the pricing far more significantly. That will happen at some point and that would spell trouble,” he added.