The Charlotte Hornets are moving to a ticketing system that will rely almost exclusively on smartphone technology for the 2019-20 season.
It’s a switch similar to what the Carolina Panthers made, which caused initial adjustment and hassles for some season-ticket holders. However, the Hornets used mobile ticketing as an option last season and a large portion of the fan base already has used it.
“Most of them moved in that direction. What we decided to do this year is not give them the option, but to go completely away from the printed tickets and the PDFs,” Hornets president Fred Whitfield told the Observer.
The Hornets said their research showed about 45 percent of season-ticket holders used mobile ticketing regularly and 90 percent had used it at least once to enter Spectrum Center last season.
Fans need to have a smartphone and have downloaded the Hornets app to access tickets. Whitfield and Jacob Gallagher, the team’s longtime ticketing specialist, said there will be limited exceptions to the mobile-ticketing policy, such as sales to large groups, suite holders and some game-day sales.
“We’re not going to turn away people who want to see the Hornets,” Gallagher said of extenuating circumstances.
Gallagher, the team’s chief revenue officer, said mobile ticketing shouldn’t complicate fans transferring tickets or posting them for resale, as they have online in the past.
The team plans information sessions with season-ticket holders and will work with customers who don’t have smartphones. Gallagher said there are fail-safe processes in place to look up accounts should there be a breakdown of the team’s app or a mobile data network outage in the future.
‘We don’t see” a difficult transition, Gallagher said. “That started last year when we really gave our fans the the option of it. We rolled it out, let them ask the questions, and taught them how to do it step-by-step. We did that groundwork last year, but we’ll do it again, reaffirming what we did.”
The Hornets had success the past few years encouraging fans to download and use the team’s app for luxuries such as express food orders and food and merchandise discounts at games.
Gallagher said this ticketing decision was about efficiency and security (against threats such as counterfeiting), not about data-mining customer habits.
“We already have that capability (via team-app usage) to build stronger and more customized relationships with our fans,” Gallagher said.