(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

The Nationals this week will announce a new membership program for all half- and full-season ticket holders, “Nats Plus,” meant to deepen the team’s connection with its biggest customers by providing increased access to players and coaches, exclusive on-field experiences and bigger discounts on concessions and retail items.

Mailings explaining the new program already went out to the team’s 21-game partial-plan holders; the rest of the season-ticket base should receive their explanatory packets this week. “Nats Plus” branding will also appear throughout Nationals Park on Thursday, when the team returns to Washington after a nine-game road trip.

The program will be marketed as something of a VIP club, with slogans like “Exclusively for our most passionate fans” and “Tickets plus the status you deserve.”

“Ideally, we’ve created something aspirational,” said Valerie Camillo, the team’s chief revenue and marketing officer. “It’s not a model that’s foreign to customers; the deeper your relationship with any brand or product, the more you get out of it….This is not designed for the casual fan; it’s designed for people that are really into the team and have expressed that through their commitment to the team.”

The new program was created after asking plan holders how to improve their experience, according to Camillo. The most popular responses, she said, revolved around exclusive experiences, enhanced rewards and special access.

And so in 2015, full-plan holders will be able to take batting practice and play catch on the field at Nats Park. Half- and full-plan holders will be invited to private autograph sessions and have the chance to take family holiday photos on the field.

They will also receive bigger discounts; full-plan holders will get 20 percent off at team stores, and 20 percent eCash-back when using their membership cards to pay for concessions. Those numbers will be 15 percent for half-plan holders, and five percent for partial-plan holders, who won’t be part of the Nats Plus program. Partial-plan holders previously received benefits nearly identical to those of full-plan holders.

Nats Plus members will receive a black card for ticketing and eCash spending — all cards were previously red.


(Courtesy the Nationals)


These benefits, Camillo said, will give fans further incentive to buy the larger season-ticket packages  in an era with ready access to tickets on the secondary market.

Some partial-plan holders have expressed concern at being left out of the “Nats Plus” umbrella. The team is offering to connect interested partial-plan holders with each other, allowing them to form larger groups and then buy a bigger ticket package. For the first year of the program, partial-plan holders who upgrade could also qualify for discounts, according to the mailing from the team.

“We will continue to value all of our customers, even if you choose to remain at the partial plan holder level,” Camillo wrote in her letter to fans.

The program, she said, offers “opportunities that aren’t being afforded to the general population” for the team’s most committed customers, whom she called “the lifeblood of the franchise.”

“This is about creating lifetime customers,” she said. “People in bigger plans are more likely to stay in the Nationals family year after year, season after season. We’re not looking to sell this to make money off it; we’re trying to get core fans committed to us for the long term.”

(Courtesy the Nationals)
(Courtesy the Nationals)