CROSS CHECK: The NHL St. Louis Blues will launch the Bluenatics Passport starting with 2023-24 season. (Courtesy team)

Loyalty Program Upgrades to Roll Out in Phases

The NHL St. Louis Blues have launched an expansion of the app-based Bluenatics fan loyalty program that will bring in 128,000 registered users under a single unified login, according to Matt Gardener, Blues vice president of innovation and digital strategy.

The Bluenatics Passport will debut for the 2023-24 season and will eventually integrate everything from ticketing to concessions and merchandise to partner points of sale under one universal ID, Gardner said. The program is part of a multi-year partnership with blockchain digital rights management software company Credenza.

The launch has been in the works for about a year, Gardner said.

Credenza was founded by Sandy Khaund, who has worked for Microsoft, Intel and Turner Broadcasting before founding blockchain ticketing company Upgraded, which was acquired by Live Nation / Ticketmaster in 2018.

“One of the things that was important to us was making sure we were finding the right way for us to integrate blockchain into our interactions with our fan base,” Gardner said.

GOALS IN MIND: Matt Gardner speaks at the annual St. Louis Blues Partnership Summit. (Courtesy team)

The idea is to create “a centralized hub connecting in our business systems and essentially using blockchain as a way of applying rules that can reward and incentivize fans for their daily habits and behaviors in how they interact with Blues hockey,” he said.

“Bluenatics is the core piece that we’ve built over the last few years. It’s a fan engagement platform where we have closing on 128,000 registered members,” Gardner explained. “That also serves as the single sign on into our Blues app, so we’re using that as the core piece for the registration process.”

The Bluenatics Passport will tie into the Blues’ mobile app.

“What we’re working right now on the development side is getting ties in with our point of sale systems that we have at Enterprise Center, so we can start giving fans a reason to interact with the platform through the transactions that they’re making inside the building, along with our retail component online, which is called ‘’ and that runs on Shopify.”

When conversations began with Credenza about putting blockchain technology into practice, Gardner narrowed in on practical uses that would have the most impact on business goals.

“The key ingredient for us was making our data accessible and actionable,” he said. “We’ve utilized Bluenatics for almost two years now and we’ve collected a lot of data. Now, it’s time to roll things through Bluenatics to create incentives for our fans for the things that they’re already doing.”

A fan who comes to every game and buys a popcorn can be offered a coupon for a freebie via Bluenatics when they reach a pre-set threshold, he said.

“That will also trigger a push notification to go out through our apps when any sort of incentive has been reached,” Gardner said. “We want to start with retail and concessions. Ultimately, we want to get to ticketing. We want to tie it in with our website; this is where the blockchain is a big win for us and where a lot of previous rewards/loyalty programs kind of fall short is, we want to take this outside of our building. We want to tie this in with our corporate partners. We want to take this off premise.”

It will take time and the process is rolling out in phases, he said.

“We’ll sprinkle a little bit out there, see how fans engage and interact with the concepts we’re working on and then figure out what our next phases are going to be,” Gardner said.

“In the last few years there have been a lot of non-fungible token/blockchain-style solutions that have popped up,” he said. “I’ve talked to a few of them, but this was the one that we felt had building power for us. We’re not going to offer too much right away. It would be way too confusing for fans. We know our rollout is going to be incredibly important, that people understand exactly what they are opting in for with the Passport, but also to give them an opportunity to understand the benefits, so that when roll out phase two, three and four, they see the benefits of being part of this program. Credenza gave us the best partnership approach.”