Tweet credited to Likkit Pocinwong

By Stephanie Steiner

February 20th, 2016

This was the first meeting with our new attendance bylaw in effect – four people called in.

We started our meeting with a presentation from Taylor Graham, Mikaela Purvis, and Megan West to cover mobile ticketing, Matchpass rewards, the new mobile app, account representative restructure, and voting.  The news:

  • Sounders invested heavily and built their own app.
  • Matchpasses for entry and pre-printed tickets were going away – entry was mobile only.
  • Matchpass points were going away. For a loyalty program they never really worked, and were a cause for constant frustration.  Charitable support was more aligned with the brand and with the priorities of Sounders Season Ticket Members.
  • Voting: delayed. All efforts being focused on start of the season. Once everything was ready, Primary Account Holders would be able to designate voters from within the app itself. As of this writing, it appears as though voting is still not yet turned on. Primary Account Holders will be able to vote now and start designating voters as soon as it is. The FO is concentrating their efforts on making sure mobile entry works to get people through the gates before they take on anything else.
  • Mobile App: heavy investment into communication with STMs and entertainment options.
  • Account Managers: restructured and reassigned by “neighborhoods” within the stadium. Since they’ll know which seats are vacant on matchday, they can go sit within their sections and be available.  Neighborhood parties being planned.
  • Buy It Now option within MatchPass to generate funds for charity, 1/3 of those funds directed by the Alliance Council to a cause.
  • Mikaela Purvis, Megan West, and Taylor Graham will partner as liaisons to the Alliance Council going forward.

It’s important to note that although several Alliance Council members had been beta testing the app for a little over a week by this point, this is the first we’d heard of ticketing being moved to mobile only.  The November meeting with owners included conversations about mobile ticketing, but not from any perspective of “only.”

After they left, we approved our minutes from the November 2015 meeting and then went around the room and briefly highlighted for each other why we nominated ourselves for the the Alliance Council.  We held our annual elections:

President: Stephanie Steiner (unopposed)

Vice President: Kristina Vaughn (unopposed)

Secretary: Cameron Collins (unopposed)

All three of the above are on the Executive Committee – President and Vice President are automatic.  Also elected to the Executive Committee were Martin Buckley and Daniel Roe.

We then moved into a conversation about our workgroups, we changed the names of some and added a few more.  I left one off inadvertently (women’s attire), but since it’s already been created we don’t need to vote it into existence – it already exists, we just need someone to lead it.

We have far more workgroups than our twenty-three members will be able to manage, we will have to prioritize them as the season goes. Our groups are:

GM Vote – write our language into Charter and Constitution

Member Eligibility – Do we want to charge people to join the Alliance? Is $125 too much or too little? What about S2 season ticket holders?  Partial Seasons?

Supporter Group recognition

Alliance Council Visibility – blog, social media, Pre-match table: all included here

Community Outreach – also included here is charity partnership

Scarf Vote

MatchPass – program has been entirely restructured, not sure what will be needed here

Kit (we are done with jock tag thru 2017, next chance to be involved is 2018)

Annual Meeting Questions – does this need to be a workgroup or just take volunteers at the time?

End of Year Meeting – already have a full team here

Season Ticket Holder Giveaways – scarf or?

Presentations from the FO – doesn’t need to be a workgroup, can just work with Stephanie to get onto the agenda when the agenda can accommodate the time

Constitution & Bylaws – rewrites, what language and concepts should change – get out to Alliance for a vote in ’16

Budget – build awareness of the Alliance Council, members stop spending own money

Seating Expectations – will discuss all issues related to seating in stadium.

Women’s Attire – Sounders attire still not right for women fans

Our last conversation of the meeting was about Season Ticket Members’ request for greater transparency, specifically the request that we publish our votes by member. The greatest complaint was about the number of people who have abstained. In the end, we have decided not to publish the votes.  The reasons surrounding that are that we are not a governing body, we don’t get to decide what the Sounders do.  We can merely make recommendations.  And our members have been harassed – sometimes even from other council members.  We had a lengthy conversation regarding the desire for more information and more perspectives being made available to the Alliance.  It’s too early to say if that will result in more views being expressed in the Opinions section, I hope so.

That summed up the first meeting.  We got feedback later from our call-in members that the Batphone worked fine, so that’s good.  We moved it up and down the table to keep it near the person who was talking – not always convenient, but not impossible to maintain.

And then a week later I went to bed and forgot to turn my phone off.  Like any girl from Italian lineage, when a phone keeps blowing up into the wee hours of the morning, I got up and went downstairs with heavy heart to learn the dreaded answer to the only question that could cause an iPhone to dance explosively across the countertop: Who died?  Luckily, I learned no one had.

What happened instead is that last December, some ditzy broad (who looks exactly like me) thought it would be an awesome idea to introduce season ticket members to the Alliance that they’re a part of. What a novel idea – an introduction!  That introduction went out in the season ticket member packages that also introduced the words mobile only.  I turned my phone off.  I went back to bed.  I did not sleep.  In fact, I didn’t for several nights.  Most of the mail that came in was absolute vitriol – not helpful in any way, shape, or form.  I answered those emails anyway, at least with “I’m sorry this is frustrating,” and an explanation of when the Alliance Council was informed of the decision.  After a few days, we (the Alliance Council) learned that we had an inaccurate talking point at the Front Office that declared the Alliance Council had vetted or enthusiastically endorsed mobile only or something like that.  There were several emails along those lines – I got that corrected.  We didn’t endorse the decision.  Several council members tested the app, that’s it.  Mobile only remains another story.  A couple of the emails that came in outlined the impact of the decision to go mobile only and the authors requested that their emails be elevated to the proper personnel for replies.  I was copied on those, and I’ve shared them below because I think they’re helpful to everyone.

I can’t help but be reminded of how far we’ve come in three years.  Yes – only three years ago, my group still had to deal with tearing paper tickets out of a giant book.  The rest of the stadium had been moved to these cool new plastic cards.  I made this huge color coded grid for the whole season (still do), rounded up as many people as possible, and we headed to brunch at Senor Moose in Ballard where we’d dive into awesome sopes de tinga with horchata lattes, and start separating our tickets and parking passes by person.  Some people drove in from Spokane for it.  Ticket trades had to be completed a week in advance so that the paper tickets could be dropped into snail mail.  Remember snail mail?  I forget about it too.  Sounders hadn’t even created tickets by pdf for us yet.

Here are the questions and answers I promised you (answers are from the Front Office Staff):

Hi Rob,

I appreciate you reaching out to both Alliance Council and myself. I apologize for the delayed response as I wanted to ensure I was provided you all of the answers that you requested. First of all, I want to thank you for taking the time to provide us feedback regarding our mobile app. I believe that some of the new features of the app provide you with a viable ticket solution and can ensure you we have taken precautions to make sure your concerns are addressed.

 Rationale for change? Business decision, cost, convenience

There were multiple reasons why we decided to make a switch to a mobile platform, cost was definitely not one of those. Integrating mobile tickets into the native app experience provides more flexibility for fans. The app will improve the ability to manage seats in the way that works best for each fan. Whether you’re sharing a seat with one person the entire season, splitting between multiple people or deciding last-minute on what to do with your tickets, the app will provide an improved solution to help with those needs. In addition, MatchPass rewards will also be available in-app, so fans can redeem rewards and manage tickets within the same location, anytime, anywhere.  In addition, we are excited the app will continue to support news, videos and additional content and can serve as the first-choice for fans when looking for the latest from Sounders FC.   

 Are you looking to enable an Opt-In for physical tickets or enable “print at home” with “matchpass and season tickets” privileges?

Similar in the past, you will be issued a MatchPass, instead of a physical MatchPass, you will receive a digital MatchPass that you can manage through the Sounders FC app. You will still have the full functionality of My Account Manager, now even easier to access through the Sounders FC App. My Account Manager gives you the opportunity to print, forward, resell or donate your tickets. Therefore, if you prefer not to use mobile for entry, you still have the ability to print.

 Will you enable contest entry for each ticket purchase?

No, for the history of the MatchPass program, all enter to win contests have been one entry per account. This allows for all season ticket members to have the chance to enter for prizes. If you do not want to take the chance of the enter to win, there is also a buy now option to secure a spot where all of the money raised will be donated directly to charity. I strongly recommend you check out the new MatchPass informational video on the matchpass.soundersfc.com website for more information and to check out the cool rewards already posted.

 The MatchPass loyalty program has completely changed this year. There is no need to swipe at concessions or the pro shop or work to earn points, so you do not need to provide your kids your phone at concessions. With this new program, we want to simply reward you for being a season ticket member, not to have you to worry about earning enough points to redeem. We hope your phone doesn’t die getting to the match, but just in case if it does, we will have Sounders FC staff available with phone chargers to get you some battery to get into the match. If you do not want to charge your phone, you could also visit the customer service window located on the NW corner of CenturyLink Field for assistance with your tickets.

We had some issues with the Android launch, which is most likely why your wife was unable to log-in. However, we released an update Wednesday evening, which should fix those issues. Therefore, if you would like both you and your wife to have the ability to scan into the gate, you can designate her a couple of passes to download onto her device, so you do not have to swipe through all 5 passes at the gate. Below are some tutorial videos, just in case if you need them, to explain how to share a season pass with your wife or simply download the passes to your phone. In addition, you can add those passes to either Android Pay or Apple Wallet, so you do not have to worry about downloading them on matchday or using Wi-Fi or data.

Share the Season: http://www.soundersfc.com/mobilize/manage-season

Download to phone: http://www.soundersfc.com/mobilize/get-all-passes

If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to reach out me directly. I would be happy to walk through this with you, so we make sure you have a great matchday experience. If you would like to read any more information, I would recommend checking out the STM Benefits Website or the Mobilize Website for more information. Thanks again for your support and look forward to your response.

Later follow up:

Thank you for your email! One thing I do just want to note is if you save your season pass to your “wallet” on the phone, you can actually delete the app afterwards. As long you as you have the default setting, the pass will update itself to the next home match on its own. Also, the wallet doesn’t use Wi-Fi or Data, which should help the battery issue. 

We do still have our Sounders FC Pub Partnerships, and expect to expand them for the 2016 season! We are working on creating a form of Season Ticket Member ID for those who do not have access to smartphones.

Again, I really do appreciate this in depth feedback. If anything else comes up or still does not work (Android should have gotten an update after you sent this email).

At the March first meeting, we will have Taylor Graham and Bart Wiley coming in to discuss some of the hot button topics (Mobile only, variable single match pricing, etc.).  We can’t reverse their decisions, but we do want to know how they’ll take care of people – I’m confident there must be an answer, so what is it?