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Buffalo Sabres rewards mobile loyalty members for stadium purchases

Professional ice hockey team Buffalo Sabres has bumped up its benefits for loyalty members by awarding them for purchases made at participating HarborCenter vendors.

The loyalty program Sabres Fan Advantage initially launched in October as a mobile application that gives fans the opportunity to save on merchandise, tickets and other fan experiences. By extending the partnership to HarborCenter vendors, fans can more easily rack up points.

“Any time you can put a loyalty program and its functionality on a mobile device, you give your program members the ability to earn, track and redeem their rewards at any time,” said Vanessa Horwell, founder and chief visibility officer at ThinkInk Public Relations, Miami. “Loyalty programs in 2014 started to shift away from plastic, card-based programs toward the mobile environment, and we’ll no doubt see much more of that happening in 2015, including the incorporation of mobile payments, digital wallets and the like.”

More ways to save
Fans using the rewards program can earn points by scanning codes on tickets or receipts from merchandise and concessions purchased at First Niagara Center, as well as by entering keywords announced during broadcasts of Sabres games on MSG.

The points can be redeemed in a store within the application for team merchandise, game tickets and fan experiences, such as meet-and-greets with players.

HarborCenter is a facility in Buffalo, New York, owned by the Buffalo Sabres that is used by numerous hockey and other commercial tenants.

The new HarborCenter enhancements include 10 points for spending between $25-$50 and 25 points for spending more than $50 at Food and Sport. Users will be awarded 10 points for joining a clinic session and 50 points for joining a development program at Academy of Hockey.

For each visit to Impact Sports Performance, users will receive 10 points. Lastly, users will receive 10 points for spending between $25-$50 and 25 points for spending more than $50 at Ice Labs.

In addition to the new point-earning opportunities, HarborCenter items and experiences will be added to the redemption store in the coming months.

Sabres Fan Advantage is available for free on iOS and Android devices. Points can be earned and redeemed through June 30, 2015.

Sporting mobile
Hockey teams are seeing how important mobile is to their fans, prompting them to opt for mobile solutions to provide the best customer experience.

For example, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ installation of Wi-Fi at Nationwide Arena gives the hockey club’s fans high-speed wireless connectivity on any mobile devices in the arena, which also boosts fan engagement with the sport.

The Jackets, who play in the National Hockey League, hired Mobilitie, a Newport Beach, CA provider of wireless infrastructure, to install the high-density WiFi system. The network, which allows fans to share information via their social channels, and enjoy in-venue entertainment, was premiered during the Blue Jackets home-opening contest against the New York Rangers on Oct. 11 (see story).

Even more recently, the National Hockey League prominently featured daily sports fantasy Web site DraftKings on its mobile Web site and application as it leveraged the correlation between fan engagement and fantasy sports.

DraftKings, which has long offered a mobile version of its NHL game, now will receive prominent brand placement across the NHL’s digital platforms, including, NHL Mobile and the NHL’s Twitter and Facebook properties. The move enables the NHL to boost its outreach to fans who increasingly heighten their sporting event experience on mobile and are active in the booming daily fantasy sports market (see story).

No matter the channel, hockey teams must prioritize fan loyalty, and mobile loyalty is now a good place to start.

“Fans’ loyalty to their favorite teams is an around-the-clock experience,” Ms. Horwell said. “As most fans across most demographics are now equipped with some form of mobile device, they will benefit not only by being able to earn rewards for their activities, such as buying merchandise, tickets, etc., but they’ll like have more access to their favorite teams and a number of related sporting vendors.

“Teams likewise will find that apps like these have far greater revenue-generating potential than traditional email marketing, for example, and they can reach out to fans at any moment with on-the-go information about the team, its players, the game or season at any particular time,” she said. “Doing so will undoubtedly engender more loyalty among the fans.

“Mobile apps can also be powerful tools to help teams stay in touch with fans during the off-season, extending the team-fan relationship beyond the regular season with ways to keep them engaged, informed and interested year-round.”

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York