Ticket sales, group sales, selling groups, group tickets, NBA, sports business

The Group Sales Spotlight: Sacramento Kings

August 13, 2020

Recently, we caught up with one of our partners, the Sacramento Kings and specifically their head of Group Sales, Michael Ramos. We were interested in learning more about some of their successes over the past year, and what led to that success. We also dove in on COVID-19 and got some of his advice on what to do during these difficult times that we're in. We've put together a summary of that conversation below, hope you all can find some take-a-ways here! Stay strong out there and let's stick together, we'll get through this.

How the Kings are growing their "Heritage Theme Nights"

The Sacramento Kings have grown multiple heritage nights into some of their largest group outings. They first introduced the nights back in 2008, following the lead of the nearby San Francisco Giants.

In creating successful nights, Michael and his team have focused on all of the following:

  • 1. Strong rep involvement throughout the entire process

  • 2. Getting buy-in from other departments to amplify the night

  • 3. Including multiple elements into the night for the community and fans

  • 4. Understanding the vision and goals of the community and implementing that throughout the game

  • Some of the larger nights that Michael and team host each year are:

  • -Native American Night

  • -Filipino Roots Nights

  • -Serbian Heritage Night

  • -Sikh Heritage Night

  • -Lunar Near Year Night

  • How do you get buy in?!

Getting buy-in from departments outside of sales has improved over time and as a result, each group night has grown exponentially. Michael and his team work internally with marketing, game operations, corporate partnerships, data analytics and basketball operations to make these nights happen. Each department plays a role and each is a part of the larger vision meetings in planning the nights each year. Helping everyone see the impact it makes on the community, the game experience, and in revenue gets everyone on the same page. It's important to ensure all parties are aligned and working towards one common goal.

What else are they doing to grow these nights?

  • -The larger nights now have a corporate partner as the presenting sponsor of the night.

  • -Marketing helps with targeted ads on Facebook, choosing targets within that community that also show an affinity for basketball. These serve as leads for Michael and his team to follow up on.When opportunities appear for performance groups, those opportunities are worked on with game operations.

  • -Packages for these nights typically include a ticket and a t-shirt/hat for the fans.

  • -Michael's team is encouraged to be involved in the community all year long through festivals, dinners, and other events. Building a long-term relationship and trust is key in growing the nights over time and showing an authentic desire to be a part of the community and stand out from the crowd!

  • The Kings are open to growing additional Heritage nights and new ideas but want to make sure they have the contacts that will help educate them on the best way to execute a new night. The internal champion is key, finding someone to spearhead the initiative is vital. It is a fine line to make sure the nights are done in the most authentic way possible to represent the heritage they are celebrating. Each should be customized and you shouldn't take a one size fits all approach to each one. They don't want to feel like just another group.

COVID-19 advice?

  • 1. Take time to reflect and ask questions of yourself and others on your team. Evaluate your skills, and stick together as a team.

  • 2. While it is hard because we are distanced and not seeing each other everyday, it is even more important that we continue to ask people how they are doing.

  • 3. Take time to learn and get better. Michael has been listening to books and podcasts, as well as working on his golf game!

  • 4. Be positive! Reassess your goals and spend time with your family and support system to ensure you're staying in the right mindset.

  • About the authors:

Denise Sicheneder is the Vice President of Sales and Service at Spinzo. Spinzo is used by all major sports leagues, colleges, venues, and one-time events. With its unique pricing and social technology, the platform allows clients to sell more tickets, faster, and more efficiently across a broad spectrum of sales including group tickets, single game tickets, season tickets, suites, plans, deposits, and merchandise sales. Spinzo is known for its total flexibility and top-notch client service. Denise runs all business development and client retention for Spinzo. Prior to that she worked as a consultant and also spent 12 years working in team sports with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Hawks. You can learn more about Denise on LinkedIN here.

Michael Ramos is the Director of Group Sales & Hospitality at the Sacramento Kings. He started his career at the San Francisco Giants and has spent the last 12 seasons with the Kings. He has a Bachelor's Degree from San Francisco State in Marketing & Management. He was born in Fresno, CA and some fun facts about him. He loves Duke basketball, he has a twin, and he loves to travel. He's also a group sales specialist and is always open to connecting and helping others. You can learn more about Michael and connect with him on LinkedIn here.