In the shadows: Behind every ticket

Impact Media strives to bring you as much information as possible on your club. The players on the field are crucial, but the club is also about passionate women and men that take care of every aspect of the organization. In this space, we’ll introduce you to some of these people who play in the shadows.

Last week, thousands of Impact supporters were delighted to pull a marvellous parcel out of their mailbox: their 2017 Bleu-blanc-noir season ticket. And behind every one of their smiles are non-stop efforts in the office.

Antoine Chevalier, Manager, Ticket Operations, and Julien Lavoie, Assistant, Ticket Operations, work alongside the Sales and Marketing departments. They make sure that every aspect of the logistics related to tickets, from programming to printing, from the generation of barcodes to the processing of requests from within the club, is well taken care of.

But their busiest period, their ‘marathon’, revolves around season tickets. Every year, from the start of the renewal window in July to the following month of April, they’re planning for the next season. “Every day, we’re thinking about what we can do better the following year,” says Chevalier. “Right now, we already know that we have to improve this thing or that thing in 2018 – the delivery of parking passes, the printing or the design for the tickets, for instance.”

With so many packages, sending the tickets out is already a heavy task – which occurs after several other tasks have been completed in quick succession. For one thing, throughout the season, Ticket Operations proactively keep their lists up to date: every member, every address, every preference. Tickets sent out by mail or picked up at the stadium? Just one member card, or a booklet of tickets? Everything must be covered.

Before the end of the season, the Marketing department knows where its campaign is headed for the following season. As soon as certain themes are implemented for good, work can start on the design of the booklet and tickets. “As far as the 2017 campaign goes, we figured out that the word ‘True’ can be developed into various taglines,” explains Geneviève Harbec, Senior Manager, Marketing. “These taglines ended up on the tickets, and the marketing campaign for each game matches what appears on the ticket.”

Brainstorming on how the ticket will look is more time-consuming than actually designing it. Marketing works in close collaboration with Julie Daigneault, Graphic Designer and Creative Manager, to generate a stunning design in mere weeks. Getting confirmation on the dates and weeks to be printed on tickets takes the longest, as it all depends on discussions between clubs, league and broadcasters.

Once the tickets are fresh off the presses at printers D. English, packages still have to be assembled before they’re sent out. “This season, a local soccer team helped us out,” Chevalier says. “Players from the Olympique Repentigny’s senior AAA women’s team handled and built the packages, following our checklists. We had to put together over 3,000 parcels in a single weekend – Saturday and Sunday, 9 to 5, and they’re in the mail on Monday morning.”

Of course, as this is manual labour, a few mistakes are bound to happen. It is up to Ticket Operations to address these at the earliest opportunity. Still, Antoine Chevalier feels that 2017 has been an excellent year on that account, as lessons were learned from the previous season. “It was important for us that everything go smoothly this year. The ticket sales representatives give us feedback from the calls that they’ve been getting, and members are satisfied.”

Along with the tickets, a number of freebies find their way into the supporter’s home. Club partners may, at their own discretion, offer some kind of promotion to members. But one constant has been that the Bleu-blanc-noir includes a souvenir in the parcel – usually a scarf for the season. Designed by Julie Daigneault, it remains a popular item, especially for collectors. Other options may yet be explored – a souvenir book was the gift to members in 2013 –, but surveys among the Impact membership tend to confirm just how well-liked scarves are.

In other cases, parcels sit in the small room behind Julien Lavoie’s office, waiting for members to pick them up. And it’s not just season ticket holders that come by his Stade Saputo booth; even though supporters can now do pretty much everything over the Internet, some still enjoy coming down to the ticket office. “A lot of people love when they get here and can hold the tickets in their hands,” Lavoie says. “They’re clad in Bleu-blanc-noir from head to toes and they talk soccer with me for a half-hour. Half of them then go to the boutique. Faces become familiar. Otherwise, we see a lot of tourists, and I give them directions, too.”

This being said, cards will become more and more prevalent than tickets, as the Bleu-blanc-noir is shooting for a paper-free stadium, as much as possible, in the coming seasons. “We understand the issue for businesses and partners, so we’ll stay flexible when it comes to tickets that they want to give away to clients,” Chevalier says. “Right now, 20 percent of members hold cards, and 80 percent want tickets. And when they try the card out, people never go back.”