Academic journal article Sport Marketing Quarterly

Expectations, Industry Standards, and Customer Satisfaction in the Student Ticketing Process

Academic journal article Sport Marketing Quarterly

Expectations, Industry Standards, and Customer Satisfaction in the Student Ticketing Process

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study explores the effects of expectations and industry standards on customer satisfaction in the student ticketing process in intercollegiate athletics. Data were collected from 378 students attending three NCAA Division I institutions, and an experimental design was used to determine which type of expectations best predicted customer satisfaction/dissatisfaction and how information about industry standards affected satisfaction levels. Findings suggest sport customers make satisfaction judgments based on what they think should be in a policy rather than what they think will be in a policy, indicating marketers need to work to understand what students would ideally want in a ticket policy. Further, students' dissatisfaction lessened when presented with additional information about how the policy fit within industry standards; therefore, sport marketers need to educate sport consumers about industry standards in order to keep them from developing unreal expectations.

Expectations, Industry Standards, and Customer Satisfaction in the Student Ticketing Process

A widespread concern among intercollegiate athletic marketers is how to increase student attendance at various events. At first glance, student attendance does not seem to be a problem as student sections at places like Texas A&M and LSU easily fill each fall Saturday for football, and students camp out for days to get tickets for Connecticut and Kansas basketball games. However, these institutions are a small sample of the over 300 schools participating at the NCAA Division I level, many of which struggle to attract students to their events (Brutlag-Hosick, 2004). This problem is especially troubling for schools that depend on student attendance to reach overall attendance goals (e.g., schools who need to meet attendance requirements to remain in Division I-A for football) or to generate excitement at games. In addition, the lack of student attendance can cause problems in the future, as university athletic departments will often target these current students later as alumni ticket buyers and donors.

Given this environment, it is important for athletic departments to focus on student satisfaction with the policies used to distribute tickets to students. Specifically, there is a need to understand how policies can be developed that will both attract interest from students and reduce the dissatisfaction that often accompanies the student ticketing process (Beam, 2005; Henline, 2004; Nathans, 2005). The lack of research in this area is particularly disconcerting for two reasons. First, athletic departments across the country offer a wide range of policies to distribute tickets for athletic events, which creates a high potential for dissatisfaction. For example, athletic departments have various policies concerning price of tickets, location of seats, number of seats available, availability of reserved seating, seating priority, method of acquisition, etc. Given the number of options available related to each of these items, it is critical to better understand student views on ticket distribution. Second, little research has examined student satisfaction with athletic ticketing. This oversight is troubling, as customer satisfaction influences customer retention (Bolton, 1998; Mittal & Kamakura, 2001), purchase intentions (Cronin & Taylor, 1992; Innis & La Londe, 1999; Mittal, Kumar, & Tsiros, 1999), customer loyalty (Fornell, 1992; McDougall & Levesque, 2000), and willingness to refer (Cronin, Brady, & Hult, 2000; Rust, Zahorik, & Keiningham, 1995).

Customer satisfaction is often defined as a comparison of expectations against a process or outcome (Oliver, 1997). When the service encounter exceeds expectations customers are satisfied, but when the service encounter falls below expectations customers are dissatisfied. The majority of research in this area focuses on how marketers can increase the quality of service in order to exceed expectation, but less research has addressed the other factor in the equation: expectations (Coye, 2004). …

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