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Josh's Blog, January 28th, 2004

January 28, 2004

Josh explains promotions and benefits for fans

I’m sorry to have missed yesterday’s update. I’m currently serving on a grand jury (and have been for a week and a half), and it’s been hard to juggle things.


Mr. Charlie Silverman, a long-time season ticket holder, asked me to discuss the way that season ticket holders will be treated in the coming year. It actually was more open-ended than that. It really was a question of promotions and benefits to our fans in 2004.


I can only give a partial answer to this question now, since I had to begin serving my civic duty after only some of the decisions had been made.  But I can get into the thought processes behind the ways we are making our decision—as well as why we changed the way we did things last year.


One of the areas regarding which I caught a lot of (deserved) grief last season was regarding our giveaways. In the past, we had always given our every item to every fan. All of a sudden, our fans (particularly season ticket holders) were seeing a 2,500-piece giveaway here, a 1,000-piece giveaway there, and no preference given to those fans who come every night. Why were we pissing everyone off?


Well, this gets into two very separate issues. The first is how many items to give away on a given night. The second, how do we prioritize who we give them to, if not to everyone?


We decided to try the limited item method last year because we thought we could do higher quality giveaways (bats, championship ring paperweights, whiffle sets, etc) and get the bang that way, even if not everyone could get, rather than giving out lower-end items to everyone. That’s the trade-off, because our giveaways are based on how much money we get from our sponsors. So if a company gives us $7,000, we can do 7,000 $1 items or, well, fewer, but higher-end items, but not be certain that everyone in the park will get them. We are working this year on combining sponsors (which we’ve had success with on chamber nights and such) to raise greater funds to have more higher-end nights this year.


Regardless, we’ve made the decision that we are going back to the philosophy that when we promote a giveaway night, everyone in the park will get the item. The only times that could change will be in some specific circumstances where the item is very specifically for a child or only for an adult.


The priority issue gets to the question of “what are we going to do for our season ticket holders?” Ultimately, depending on which season ticket holder you speak to, that gets down to two questions: money and care.


When we switched over to Centerplate last year to run our concessions and souvenirs, the people who were most affected were our season ticket holders. They spend the most nights with us, and if their average food order costs $12, rather than the $10 they were used to, then over the course of the season they were spending $76 more dollars for the same meal than they had been in previous seasons. And, they pointed out, the service they were getting was not $2/order better. Well I can’t say I disagree with the last point, and we have spent more time discussing the service issues with Centerplate than anything else.


Look, we kind of knew we were going to take a bit of a hit last year by switching over. Centerplate was going to need to get used to the park. They were not going to want to be particularly creative. They needed to burn through out merchandise inventory and teach old employees new methods and procedures from what they were used to. Also, they were going to raise prices in order for both Centerplate and the Staten Island Yankees to make a buck. There was the classic dilemma of adding a middleman. We thought long and hard before we brought them on. But we decided that we were not doing the job properly when we were doing it ourselves, and that bringing Centerplate on would end up making us more efficient. We didn’t see the immediate results, but we certainly believe very strongly (VERY STRONGLY!) that the end result will be a good one.


But that doesn’t solve the problem of season ticket holders having to spend more for the same items. So we decided to do two things this season that involve discounts. The first will be a coupon book that all season ticket purchasers will receive. It will contain discounts on food, merchandise, and even parking (!). In addition, we will be instituting nightly discounts for season ticket holders that will be announced over the PA. One day it’ll be a percent discount at the team store, the next day it could be a dollar Pepsi for a few innings. We’ll make it different and interesting, and make it enough so that it’s not simply a “lip-service discount”.


I need to go to jury duty now. Friday’s blog will deal with other promotions, as well as some of the customer service aspects of this equation.





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