Tackling Ticketing: How the Military Bowl Wrote a New Playbook with Tixr

April 29, 2024

Ushering in a new chapter of modernization and innovation, the 2023 Military Bowl presented by GoBowling.com embraced a full-scale digital and mobile revamp for a more memorable game day.

There's nothing quite like Bowl Season—that thrilling winter endcap to the college football season when teams from diverse conferences across the United States rally in a series of festive, high-stakes clashes.

Among these postseason spectacles, the Military Bowl stands apart not only as a prestigious year-end contest but also as a vibrant celebration of patriotism, service, and community. Hosted at the storied Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, MD and broadcast worldwide on ESPN, the annual Military Bowl is intimately tied to honoring and supporting the United States Armed Forces.

Promising an exciting showdown between teams from two prestigious football Bowl Subdivision conferences, the event also includes activities designed to pay homage to service members and bolster the welfare of active-duty and veteran military service members, most notably through Patriot Point, the Military Bowl Foundation’s 294-acre retreat for wounded, ill, and injured service members, their families, and caregivers.

Saluting Tradition and Progress

As planning began for the 2023 face-off, it became evident to the bowl’s organizers that its legacy ticketing platform was failing to meet the event’s evolving needs.

On top of challenges with mobile ticketing and transfers among partners and sponsors, the Military Bowl’s 2022 event struggled with chargebacks (in the tens of thousands). In addition, while ticket sales had been relatively stable, reporting limitations made it more difficult for its marketers to establish a clear picture of purchasers and attendees.

Eager for a modern ticketing system that could dynamically enhance its back-of-house operations and service to its partners, sponsors, and fans, the Military Bowl adopted Tixr with open arms and excitement for change. Twin ambitions drove the switch: to completely reimagine their offerings and propel the event into an exciting new era of fan engagement and technological innovation.

Taking Back Command and Control of the Fan Experience

Working with our strategic Client Success and Creative teams, the Military Bowl first zeroed in on building a custom-branded, mobile-friendly Tixr event page prominently featuring the Bowl's signature aesthetics. Using our Carousel layout, designed for navigating complex events with diverse offerings, the Military Bowl could elegantly sell more than just seats for the first time.

“The true game changer was Tixr's new fan interface, which revolutionized what we were able to offer our patrons in an elegant, intuitive, visual way,” said Lauren Schram, VP of Military Bowl Foundation. “For the first time, we could put the Military Bowl brand front and center and provide seamless access to everything from tickets to accommodations and exclusive tours in advance.”
2023 Military Bowl Tixr event page custom-branded with Military Bowl aesthetics

In 2023, both new and returning buyers experienced what a modern, dynamic purchasing experience should be like. Whether seeking general admission standing room tickets, reserved seats, or luxurious suites, customers found the simple navigation and immersive seat map both easy to use and appealing, with over a 6% conversion rate as compared to the ticketing industry average of 1-2%.

Eye-catching visuals complemented the descriptive text, enticing buyers to explore the full range of offerings beyond simple admission, from parking and hospitality to activities and hotel packages. Relevant Add-ons suggested before checkout — based on what buyers had already selected for purchase — further increased cart value and lift in realized revenue.

2023 Military Bowl interactive Tixr seat map to select reserved suites

Not only did interest and engagement among fans hit a new high, but overall sales soared — up 360% from 2022. Remarkably, non-admission related revenue jumped 377% from the previous year, making up 19% of total revenue.

Testing New Winning Sales Strategies and Tactics

Wanting to make the most of our sophisticated feature set, Military Bowl creatively experimented with a variety of advanced Tixr performance tools including Tixr Waitlist and Tixr Rewards to drive incremental sales and mitigate risk. Unsurprisingly, the trials with these advanced tools paid off, adding nearly 10% additional lift in realized revenue.

2023 Military Bowl hotel offerings with Tixr Waitlist triggered

Before committing resources behind new hospitality packages, Naval Academy tours, pub crawls, and hotel bundles, Military Bowl activated Tixr Waitlist at onsale to test the demand for in a risk-free way. Credit card pre-authorization gave Military Bowl dual abilities to validate intuition and de-risk decision-making while securing funds at the same time, should the team choose to activate the offerings.

“These expanded offerings played a key role in boosting overall revenue, demonstrating Tixr's capability to not only meet but exceed our financial targets and elevate the entire event experience,” added Schram.
2023 Military Bowl Tixr Rewards incentive packages

Military Bowl also experimented with ways to boost ticket sales by offering cash-back incentives through our built-in peer-to-peer marketing tool, Tixr Rewards. Fans were eager to share their personalized links with friends and family, driven by the promise of escalating perks at set sales thresholds. This strategy was both cost-effective—yielding $22 for every dollar spent—and fully-automated. Tixr Studio issued reward payouts as partial refunds post-event, requiring no manual effort or intervention from Military Bowl staff. 

Outflanking Operational and Analytical Inefficiencies

Military Bowl dramatically reduced manual processes by deploying our Reservations and Fan Transfers features. Through Reservations, Military Bowl automated the allocation of reserved seats, allowing competing schools to manage ticket distribution directly—much to the delight of both universities and their fans. Activating Fan Transfers further streamlined the process, enabling ticket purchasers to seamlessly transfer their tickets to other Tixr accounts, significantly reducing the reliance on box office staff. With a remarkable 16% of all tickets transferred, Military Bowl saved time and demonstrated that simple solutions can lead to substantial efficiency gains.

Inside Tixr Studio, its marketing team unlocked a veritable gold mine of comprehensive analytics, extensive reporting, and actionable insights that illuminated attendee behaviors and preferences across first-timers and loyal fans. In-platform charts offered a vivid snapshot: spectators arrived from over four countries across three continents, with the majority—more than half—being in the 45+ age group.

In 2023, chargebacks at the Military Bowl were dramatically reduced from tens of thousands of dollars in the previous year to a single $45 dispute, thanks to strategic partnerships with our data science, finance, and fan support experts. By leveraging advanced data algorithms and risk detection tools, coupled with exceptional service, together we reduced financial issues and greatly improved customer satisfaction.

Marching Forward into 2024

Last year's tremendous success wasn't just the result of putting our advanced tools and features to the test; it was a testament to the Military Bowl’s openness to experimentation and willingness to change. What we achieved together showcased the power of embracing technological innovation and fan-focused strategies.

Looking ahead to this December, the Military Bowl aims to leverage the insights and advancements that have proven successful, while exploring new opportunities to further enhance the fan experience. The future of the Military Bowl looks as bright as ever, promising another year of excitement, community, and impactful support for our service members and their families in 2024.

Interested in experiencing the transformative power of Tixr to modernize your ticketing and back-of-house operations? Schedule a personalized demo with our team of experts today.