How online systems simplified memberships for the Australian Open

Online and e-commerce play a hugely important role in one of the world’s biggest sports events, the Australian Open. Tennis Australia’s Memberships Coordinator explains how the organisation uses online systems and a payment gateway to manage its memberships.

Known internationally as the “Happy Slam”, the Australian Open tennis tournament is a highlight of summer Down Under. That’s especially true for Melburnians, who descend on Rod Laver Arena in droves, ready for a full day or night’s worth of world-class tennis and entertainment.

For James Rowett, though, it’s a different experience. He doesn’t see much on-court action or get to watch his favourite player, Roger Federer, hit up. Rowett is kept busy working behind the scenes for Tennis Australia as the Australian Open (AO) Memberships Coordinator.

What is an Australian Open membership?

Much like an AFL, NRL or A-League team membership, AO membership provides early access to tickets before the general public. There’s also a host of other benefits, including merchandise discounts, ground passes to the event, access to the members lounge during the tournament, discount court hire at Melbourne Park and, for tennis diehards, the opportunity to enter ticket ballots for the other three grand slams: Wimbledon, the French Open and the US Open.

There are three tiers of membership available – entry-level Game ($99 for one year), mid-level Set ($149 for one year) and top-level Match ($249 for one year) – which guarantees access to lower-level tickets for the tournament’s final five sessions, including the much sought after men’s final.

The Match memberships are currently sold out, with a lengthy waitlist that reflects the exclusivity of the top-level membership option. “It’s our most popular membership by far, and there’s only a small turnover – most people who take out a Match membership renew it year after year, as they want the lower level tickets for the final five sessions.”

Providing online access

AO memberships can be purchased online using a SecurePay payment gateway. Rowett says this gives customers the chance to review membership information and benefits and if they would like to go ahead and purchase a membership online they can do so by following a series of quick and easy steps.

Online access is also handy for the many international tennis fans who take out memberships. Rowett estimates that of the 10,000 primary members, around 75 per cent are Australian, with the remainder coming from overseas.

Navigating the world of online payments

Rowett says his experience of working with SecurePay has been a smooth one. “It basically just ticks along in the background. We’ve really only had one issue so far, which was resolved quickly. We always find SecurePay’s reporting system to be accurate and it balances with our accounts department each month.

“AO members are very open to the online booking service these days and they are very accepting of e-commerce – not only for memberships, but in all areas. It’s definitely the way forward for us,” says Rowett.

In fact, he foresees more of Tennis Australia’s systems and payment processes coming together online through one CRM portal, which has an existing relationship with SecurePay.

For now, though, Rowett has his hands full helping to grow awareness of the AO membership program and its benefits, largely through the Australian Open’s active and far-reaching social media networks.

“During the year we promote AO memberships on our social networks – FacebookTwitter and Instagram – and we also have TV coverage during the Australian Open and Wimbledon thanks to [event sponsor] Channel Seven.”

And Rowett’s tip for the 2015 tournament? “Nick Kyrgios is good to watch. There are so many young guys coming through. Look out for [Bulgarian] Grigor Dimitrov – that’s who I’m keeping my eye on ­–­ and support Casey Dellacqua for the women’s title.”

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