Loyalty firm gets funding for MLB fan schemes
Sports Loyalty Systems (SLS), which designs, markets and runs sports fan loyalty programmes for Major League Baseball (MLB) franchises, has received US$5 million in Series A funding from IDG Ventures Boston and LBO Enterprises (owned by Leslie Otten, vice chairman of the Boston Red Sox).
In addition to the new funding, SLS has made a few worthy additions to its management team, including Jeff Robison (COO), Tim O'Leary (CIO), and Ryan Darrah (general counsel). Leslie Otten is the company's executive chairman and founder. Of particular interest, Robison came from US-based loyalty operator Upromise, where he was the vice president of customer care. O'Leary.
Sporting chance According to IDG Ventures general partner Jeff Bussgang, because customer loyalty programmes are so successful in many other industries, SLS aims to use and promote them to similar effect within the American sports industry, helping MLB teams to foster better relationships with their fans.
The company's programmes offer fans the ability to support their favourite MLB teams while being rewarded with loyalty points, both inside and outside the ballpark. The points they earn can then be redeemed for game tickets and club merchandise, as well as admission to special events and members-only sports experiences.
Earning and burning Fans join the programme at the ballpark, or on their team's web site, and receive a team loyalty card that they use to earn points with qualifying cash, credit card or debit card transactions. Points are awarded when members buy tickets, merchandise or concessions at the ballpark or at other participating local merchants, such as restaurants, hotels, theatres, retail stores, and a number of online merchants as well.
"Since our launch last month, we have received significant interest from MLB franchises looking to reward their fans for their loyalty as well as merchants and sponsors looking to create new revenue streams," said Otten. The Los Angeles Dodgers will be the first team to offer the SLS loyalty programme to its fans, starting around the end of 2005.