September 24, 2014

Season Ticket Packaging

My 2014-2015 Wizards season ticket package arrived in the mail yesterday afternoon. Or more accurately for me, it arrived when the front desk staff in my condo building felt good and ready to tell me, which meant it really arrived at just after 10 pm last night. Despite the fact that I rarely seem to get up early enough any more to have spare time before I take my walk to work, I picked it up this morning as soon as I saw last night's email from my concierge in my inbox. It was just too much to resist. I love the day this package shows up. It means that the start of the new NBA season is pretty darned close. As I write this post, the first preseason game is only 12 days away!!

Over the years, the arrival of this day has been pretty exciting. One of the thrills of opening the FedEx package from 601 F Street each fall was seeing what the tickets looked like. Which players were deemed important enough to have their mugs printed on the tickets and the graphic design of the tickets could provide anywhere from 10 minutes to hours of entertainment for this Wizards-starved fan. I think the 2011-2012 tickets showing only the then new unity hand and monumental ball logos were the worst ever while the 2003-2004 tickets which featured a unique design on each ticket featuring (I think) every player on the roster were the best. Of course, two years ago, the Wizards eliminated any joy of checking out the new tickets by going all electronic. I lamented this fact last year; no need to re-hash that again this year.

The paper tickets disappearing two years continued a general downward trend in season ticket packaging and presentation that has proved disappointing over the years. I realize I'm not really buying the objects that come in the season ticket package that shows up in late September or early October each year. I'm really getting the chance to see my team play on 41 nights at Verizon Center over the next few months. On a good year (and last year was a good year) they may play more than 41 games at home, and I'm not talking preseason here. But it is nice when there is some thought applied to the packaging. This year the package contained a credit card sized access card preloaded with the tickets, a quick overview of how to use the electronic tickets and a few lanyards and pins. If I can't get something to touch and hold and look at inside the package, it's a nice consolation if the wrapping is interesting or thoughtful.

I first bought Wizards season tickets right before the 2000-2001 NBA season; my tickets that year showed up in an envelope with little fanfare. I assume I bought them after season tickets had already been mailed which accounted for the crappy packaging I got for my $410 investment in Row G of Section 402 of Verizon Center.

The next year, though, my season tickets showed up in a cardboard locker-like box, complete with my name on a sticker on the front of the "locker" likely pasted on by someone on the Washington Sports and Entertainment staff. Kind of low budget but better than a plain envelope. The Wizards followed that season's tickets in 2002-2003 by delivering my season ticket package in a paint can, complete with the words "Inside: Everything You Need to Get Into the Paint" on the lid, which you had to pry open with a screwdriver, just like a real can of paint. Now this was pretty cool. It's really corny and what the hell am I going to do with a paint can? but at least someone over there at the Washington Wizards is thinking about the consumer a bit.

Those two years (especially the paint can) represented the gold standard of Wizards season ticket packaging in the last 15 years for me. Sad, but true. I still have both the "locker" and the paint can. You can repeat the previous sentence if you want although I won't. After those two years, I started to wonder what the heck I was going to do with these things. I'm a collector by nature so I want to hang on to these things in some useful way. After the season ticket holder party before the 2003-2004 season which offered fans the opportunity to get stuff autographed by the players, I finally hit on the idea of getting the season ticket packaging autographed by the entire team as a memento of the hoped for good times to remember the season by. This worked great in 2004-2005 and 2005-2006, when the season tickets arrived in a large embossed cardboard box. I managed to get a number of great signatures on both of those boxes which I still use as a backdrop for some of my bobblehead collection.

Folders: the worst!!
But after 2005, the quality of the packaging went way down, basically devolving into an oversized envelope with a packet of tickets and a folder containing the critical information you needed to understand the benefits (besides the tickets) of being a season ticket holder. The folders contained the slogan that the marketing folks came up with to pump hope into Wizards fans for the current season, like "Ready to Rule" or "Go All In". Some of the folders had the year of the season on them, which provided a perfect reminder and context for the signatures I inevitably tried to get on the folders, but other than that they were mostly completely disappointing.

This year's tickets (sorry, no tickets) showed up in a old fashioned kid-style metal lunchbox, which is way better than the no effort folders that we got for years and years. I am so happy to see those things die in favor of something more substantial. This continues a two year trend (can two years be a trend?) where the season ticket packaging is starting to get better and it is very welcome (last year was a pretty well made cardboard container with the new "DC 12" season ticket holder logo). I'm not going to get super excited about the lunch box; I'll give it essentially about a B-, especially considering the Wizards promotional schedule has included several lunch boxes in the last 10 years or so, but it's making some effort to make us long time season ticket holders feel like the team thinks about these things. I'm not sure I'm getting my lunch box signed by the players, but I might; It would be nice to continue the tradition I started 10 years ago. Congratulations, Wizards, you are making progress in this department. Keep going. Let me know if you need help.

Lunch box: huge step in the right direction.

1 comment:

  1. Haha, that's strange. I have no problems with the guys who work the fron desk of my condo ( at all! Maybe it depends on the place you stay at.