Reinventing Sales: Rentals, Renewals, and Ancillary Revenue

Customization. Flexibility. A La Carte. When hearing these words, we typically are at a restaurant, on vacation, or buying a car. But being able to build something from scratch and “make it your own way” is more prevalent in the sports world nowadays.

Customers and businesses that once utilized suites on an annual basis are shifting more towards flexible options. Yes, consumers are still buying full-term leases, but it’s becoming more of the norm for stake holders to purchase a rental, or a package of suites and premium products for events and games that they wish to attend. It’s much easier to pick and choose options based on preferences, rather than focus on giving away certain games or have suite nights go unused because of too many events.

Traditional suite leases are becoming more of a chore for a customer, rather than enjoyable “real estate” in the arena. Renewals are getting tougher in this landscape as well because consumers don’t want the task of going to all events and games. Being on the team side for over five years, I saw when buyers were presented with programs that they were able to customize, build out, and be flexible with. Those buyers would purchase those suite programs they created and come back year after year. It also allowed for a much easier opportunity to upsell the specific client when they were enjoying their package that they built with the help of a team associate.

Teams that adapt to the rental model being a main focus for their business are seeing increases in suites that are purchased for events, buy in from their whole staff, and easier transitions to upsell opportunities with the buyer. Here are four avenues that some of the early adapting teams are utilizing to create revenue opportunities within the suite rental world.

Leverage Concerts and Ancillary Events

Buyers are more consumed by music and pop culture events nowadays than some sporting events. Top-tier shows and artists can sometimes demand five-figure suite rental deals for a one-night-only experience. Not only will customers pay for it, but they’ll do so at a premium that will increase ancillary revenue on an event.

These events will sometimes even be the highest grossing suite rental opportunities of the year. Embrace the events that come to your building if you’re able to utilize your suite inventory. These areas of focus will build-out sales opportunities for your sales teams and can sometimes lead into bigger package conversations, especially when the price of one event is at such a high margin.

Customize Suite Packages

Teams have started to lower the barrier of entry for suites with consumers. Instead of having only full, half, or quarter suite leasing options, teams are now leaving it up to the buyer to customize a package. One area that I’ve seen success in is creating “suite flex” options. Having a few options that range in price can make a buyer go from purchasing one to a few events to opting into a suite package that allows them a flexible spending account to use throughout the year.

Most of the time, the buyer will want to purchase some of the bigger games and concerts. Therefore, they go through the account credit quickly, and it leaves opportunity for the sales team to upsell the client into a bigger program down the road or cross-sell them into another product offering.

Upsell Opportunities

With more buyers coming on board with customizable options, it makes sense to create a robust upsell strategy for that specific prospect to hope they climb the ladder for bigger types of partnerships in the future. On the team side, we used to have upsell events that strategically were during different parts of the year that would leverage suite rental buyers into purchasing or at least thinking about a bigger package with us.

One example of this was using our tier-one concerts to invite our top buyer accounts out to enjoy the show, have some food and beverage on us, and talk further about extending or building on the partnership. It was typically successful and started the conversation in an organic way.

Buy-In from the Entire Sales/Business Operations Team

Having buy-in and continuous training on your most premium offerings is critical for total adoption and greater revenue chances for your organization. If you can have the whole team sell suites for any event, you should invest some time and resources to make sure your team is equipped to pitch and sell your best inventory effectively and confidently. Belief in product and confidence in sales ability is key.

Overall, suite rental sales strategies are a big factor in growing revenue streams year over year. It’s essentially “team performance proof” because generally the suite buyer profile is more inclusive of buying to entertain clients or use as a business tool, so the actual performance of the team is typically not a deterrent.

Equip the sales team with knowledge, create unique sales opportunities, and have an intricate strategy on how to take these buyers to bigger options, and you will see great results as the landscape continues to change in sports business.

Josh Belkoff ( is the Sr. Director, Recruiting & Development at Sports Business Solutions.