Head of Ticketing Operations, Lynne O’Reardon, talks to us about the Away Season Ticket membership scheme.
Q] Tell us about the Away Season Ticket Membership scheme?
There’s been some misunderstanding regarding the scheme since we went out to supporters with information on it earlier this week.
In essence, it’s not a new scheme. It’s a revamped version of what we had before – with improvements.
We’ve had the Away Scheme for many years but this enhanced membership is a much more efficient service.
Q] Who is it open to?
It’s open to previous Away Scheme members for £25 – the same cost they’ve paid over the past few years.
For new members who want to join, it’s £40, subject to having a home season ticket.
For me, it’s important to open it up to new fans who want to experience the buzz of matchday on the road.
Q] What are the main advantages of the scheme?
The main advantage for me is that it gives autonomy to our supporters – it takes advantage of new technology to allow supporters to self-manage their account.
During their window, they would sign into their account through the on-line box office and then select and purchase their ticket at the away game.In previous seasons – back from 2003/04 onwards, they would provide us with their details and we would complete the transaction on their behalf.
There were many disadvantages to this. Fans had their account debited at a time they weren’t always ready for, expectation that ‘best available’ seats would be provided wasn’t always met and if fans wanted to be seated together this wasn’t always possible.
The fan can now select their seat and choose who they sit with, because the power is in their hands.
Selecting the concession price applicable to the supporter is another advantage ensuring price reductions available are enjoyed.
Also, if there was a game you were unable to attend, you’d then have to return the ticket for refund – but now you can choose which matches you attend proactively rather than cancelling reactively.
There’s ease of use for fans – and also, from my perspective too, it’s a better use of resources for Ticket Office staff.
The only consideration for the fan is that it will require more time-management. They will have to keep an eye on their specific windows. But we are committed to help with that by sending email reminders of the dates the priority windows open and close so benefits far outweigh.
Q] Were they any other reasons for the updated scheme?
The new scheme followed consultation with away ticket fan group, it needed an upgrade and enhancement and we’re confident we have delivered that.
As I said earlier, it also improves efficiency within the Ticket Office.
It was very time-consuming previously to go through a spreadsheet with names, fan IDs, credit card numbers – it was a painful system, we’re just improving and enhancing the whole process.
Q] Will there be tickets left after the Away Season Ticket Membership windows?
Absolutely, yes, there will be.
There will be a cap that ensures a high proportion of tickets are still available even extending for some matches to members and general public.
At present, just over 400 have signed up to the scheme.
The smallest allocation we’re likely to receive is 1,500+ for somewhere like Brentford.
With that game, we will have structured priority windows following the Away Season Ticket Scheme window.
Rest assured, there will be tickets that filter down to further priority windows, home season ticket holders will still be prioritised based on away attendance for the bigger games.
Q] What if someone joins just to buy Baggies and Blues tickets?
This is a simple one to answer.
We will be monitoring the scheme incredibly closely and, if it becomes obvious that members are only interested in buying tickets for the ‘big’ games on the road, they will be removed from the scheme without refund.
We will not allow anyone to abuse the scheme in that way. It wouldn’t be right for the rest of our fans and we won’t accept it.
On the same note, if away season ticket members are buying for other games and then selling them on to ensure they stay on the scheme, they will be removed too.
Q] Why all the noise on social media?
Last season, if you wanted to join the Away Scheme you had to have been to matches in the previous campaign as there were new opposition - Burton for example where the allocation is very low however previous years we always permitted new applicants.
If you want to be a home season ticket holder, great. If you want to be an away season ticket holder, great.
We are giving fans the opportunity to support the club, home and away. It’s the club they love.