SA Rugby has responded to the overwhelming desire to attend the HSBC Cape Town Sevens by introducing a new ticketing system designed to get dedicated fans to the event, while taking the stress out of the sales day rush.
Last year all the tickets available to the general public sold out in 44 minutes. Fans who had queued for hours for kiosks to open were left frustrated while those who chose the online route had to be quick on the finger or miss out.
The event – voted the Best Live Experience for the last two years at the Sports Industry Awards – was an overwhelming success but research by SA Rugby highlighted that the ticket purchasing experience left many fans disenchanted.
“We did a lot of research and the buying experience over the past three years has left many supporters frustrated and disappointed,” said Jurie Roux, SA Rugby CEO.
“When demand exceeds supply – as it does for the HSBC Cape Town Sevens – there will always be those who miss out, but we wanted to create a better and less random system to allow the true supporter to lay his or her hands on tickets.
“We are introducing a loyalty programme for this and future editions – which will put tickets in hands of dedicated fans – although it does come at an additional cost. But some tickets will also be available at the normal price through the lottery system.”
Roux said that the new approach had been based on research.
“We looked at international best practice for high interest sporting events such as the Olympics and single sport world cups and we surveyed the fans who were able to buy tickets last year,” said Roux.
“The response was overwhelming with 81,9% percent saying they would be interested in joining a loyalty programme. Of those an astonishing 93% said they would be prepared to pay a premium to ensure their entry and their seat!
“With those learnings we looked at how we could provide certainty for the most dedicated of fans while opening the door to more supporters to have a chance of purchasing, regardless of how quickly or slowly they were to log on to the website of our ticketing partner, Computicket.
“SA Rugby will even be contacting supporters who have purchased tickets to SA Sevens events in the past to prompt them to apply.
“We have deliberately kept ticket prices for the HSBC Cape Town Sevens low. The most expensive ticket last year was R300 for an unbelievable eight-hour experience, featuring the best Sevens players in the world and some really engaging off-field entertainment.
“This year the most expensive tickets will be R325 per day, while cheaper tickets will cost R250 and R195 per day respectively, which excludes loyalty programme charges.
“By registering for the loyalty programme, fans will be able to order up to seven tickets each – for an additional R75 per ticket. Not only does that ensure your ticket chances but successful loyalty members will have first right of refusal to purchase tickets to future editions.
“It does mean that the price has gone up this year but we will still be the cheapest Sevens tournament on the World Series.”
Here’s how it will work:
1. Log on to www.capetown7s.com and choose between:
a. Opting into the loyalty programme
b. Opting into the free lottery system
c. Bundle your tickets with travel and/or accommodation through SA Rugby Travel
2. Supporters will have until 12 September to register and make their choice of the loyalty or lottery membership programmes, or through SA Rugby Travel.
3. Supporters who opt in to the loyalty programme will be asked to specify how many tickets they would like to purchase (up to a maximum of seven) for an additional R75 per ticket.
4. Tickets will be available to loyalty members in all areas of the ground. Lottery tickets may only be available on level three (upper level) of the stadium, depending on loyalty demand.
5. At the end of the registration period, loyalty members will be emailed a personalised link giving them direct access to the ticketing system to select and pay for their tickets, including the loyalty fee.
6. That link will be active for two weeks for loyalty members to go online, select and purchase their guaranteed seats – the process will be hassle free as there is no “online rush” as experienced in the past.
7. Any tickets which are left over from the loyalty programme allocation will go into the pool for the lottery draw.
8. After the draw have taken place, successful applicants will be advised via an email link. They will be given 14 days to pay (at normal ticket prices). Tickets not paid for in that time will go back into the lottery.
“Currently, our most loyal and determined Sevens fans are at the mercy of their place in a queue or computer algorithms,” said Roux.
“Once sales open it is a game of chance. Unscrupulous re-sellers also use ‘bots’ to go online and purchase tickets, which then reappear for sale on websites at as much as ten times face value. And without any guarantee that those tickets will be honoured.
“We wanted to take a large part of that anxiety away from supporters who really want to attend the event.
“There are four million Capetonians and 60 million South Africans as well as overseas rugby fans and we only have 116 000 seats in total at the HSBC Cape Town Sevens, and there will be disappointed fans each year.
“But what we believe we will achieve with this new system is to give the really loyal and determined fans the very best chance to attend the event and help us preserve it as one of the best live sporting events in South Africa each year.
“Loyalty membership will bring other benefits in due course, such as guaranteed access to ticket sales for subsequent tournaments, while we are making sure that the event remains highly accessible to all, with tickets in the lottery section for as little as R195.”
Roux said that the new system would also allow SA Rugby to combat the online re-sellers of event tickets – who advertise tickets for sale even before they go on sale to the general public.
“Every year we warn supporters that purchasing tickets from unofficial online sites puts them at risk. They pay massively over the cover price for tickets that can’t be guaranteed,” said Roux.
“The new system will allow us to know to whom each ticket has been sold and if they reappear for sale through secondary channels we will be able to take action.
“The only agency other than Computicket which will have access to tickets will be SA Rugby Travel, who will have travel and hospitality packages available.”
Roux added: “The Cape Town fans are as big a part of the event as the players and have contributed to making the Sevens one of the highlights on the South African sporting calendar.
“We have introduced this new system to take away the anger, frustration and challenges of trying to be part of it.”
The site www.capetown7s.com is already live for registrations.