Jake Kearns is the Head of Key Accounts, Sales at SeatGeek, where he leads initiatives related to new client partnerships across the company’s supply business. While at SeatGeek, Jake has helped rightsholders across leagues and organizations continue to evolve in today’s mobile-first world, structuring and negotiating partnership terms with some of the most well-known and valuable sports teams in the world, including the Dallas Cowboys and AT&T Stadium.
In just over six years, he’s established exclusive partnerships with four NFL, nine MLS and five NBA teams. He also secured partnerships with SeatGeek’s first NHL team and several other sports properties, including the PGA of America, Fiesta Bowl and Mubadala Citi Open, helping SeatGeek become one of the most prominent names in live events.
Before joining SeatGeek in 2017, Jake worked as a Strategy Associate with KPMG, specializing in Corporate Due Diligence and Mergers & Acquisitions. He graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.S. in Human and Organizational Development.
What was the genesis for SeatGeek?
At its inception, SeatGeek was a search engine that allowed consumers to search across many ticket sites. Over time, the company grew and evolved, and in 2016 we entered the primary ticketing market, signing clients like the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans.
Throughout its evolution, SeatGeek has focused intensely on fans, launching many industry-first features that make it easier and more affordable for fans to attend events. Examples include Deal Score, our ticket rating technology and Rally, our event-day operating system.
How did the relationship start with the PGA of America?
We started talking to them in 2021. They were looking for a new ticketing technology partner that would help them take more control of their data to better understand golf fans across all tournaments. Running ticketing technology for a golf association is very complex.
There are many different tournament operators and a fan interested in attending the Ryder Cup might be different than one attending the Senior PGA Championship.
Our deep repository of data helps PGA of America inform their marketing efforts and create more personalized tourney-going experiences.
What differentiates SeatGeek from other competitors?
Our technology. We’re not a promoter and we’re not just a ticketer. We are a technology company first and foremost, so we usually resonate with teams, venues and organizations with more of that disruptor mindset.
They want their fans to have the best event-going experience. We also have the highest Net Promoter scores of any major ticketer and the highest percentage of Gen Z purchases to the total user base.
Why get involved with golf?
We see tremendous value and growth opportunities in golf. The sport has an increasingly diverse fanbase and organizations like PGA of America continue to modernize the experience.
You see the growth of interest in the game everywhere, from on-the-course professional tourneys to competitive socialization trends like TopGolf. Golf helps SeatGeek interact with an even broader fan base.
Will there be ticket number limits any one person can buy for such premium golf events?
With high-demand events like the Ryder Cup, our partners at PGA of America do an exceptional job ensuring that golf fans have fair access to these experiences.
While the exact mechanics of how this is orchestrated is still being defined, we love collaborating on best practices to ensure the process of getting tickets is seamless and as fair as possible.
Companies routinely tout the importance of customer service. Define the term and the approach followed at SeatGeek?
For too many years, ticketers treated fans like a transaction. We saw value in building a longer-term relationship through our technology and customer interaction.
Our top goal is to create a product so good that a customer never needs to reach out to us, but if they do, we want to make that experience the best it can be.
We’re focused on creating an experience that is fast and seamless, human and helpful. You can see our success in this area in our Net Promoter Score, which is one of the highest in the industry.
What role does customer feedback have and can you specify a time when customer feedback was implemented in future company actions?
We use a ton of consumer insights to inform our strategy. We continually test and update our products to meet customers’ needs and wants, ensuring we stay current with consumer trends/demands. We also use surveys and user interviews as a feedback loop that folks across functions of our company use to guide decision-making.
Fans and customers are our north star and we embrace their feedback to ensure we continue to make SeatGeek the most obvious place to find event tickets.
The biggest challenges facing SeatGeek – short and long run is what. And what strategic responses to each are being carried out by the company now?
Our underlying motivation at SeatGeek has stayed the same: (1) ticketing has historically not acted in the best interest of the rightsholder, and fans that it should benefit; and (2) technology has the power to change that.
We entered the industry as a challenger brand, disrupting the status quo at every turn through innovative technology and products.
At the end of the day, we believe fans will decide the future and investing in that fan experience will continue to be our foremost priority.
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