Party At The Park
At the start of the new year we discussed selling season tickets. Today we’re going to take you through some group sales options.
In that article we discussed two types of tickets, family 4-packs and coupon books. Features of both may be used to help enhance the group experience while allowing your front office to save time on duplicated efforts so we recommend you give it a look.
How many tickets does it take to make a group? A group size should be large enough to make the extra manpower and discounted rate pay off for the team. A good starting number is ten.
Benefits to offer groups should include a discounted ticket rate, say 1€ off the gate price if your gate charges a rate of 3€ or more. Many stadiums in the EU don’t even charge an entry fee though so how can you sell a group of people on coming to the park and what are the benefits to the team?
Some group “add-ons” you can provide any party include:
Having the group host throw out the first pitch
Allowing the group to take the field with the players
Letting kids in the group run the bases after the game
Having a special autograph session in the locker room with the players (escorted by the team mascot if you have one)
If you have a scoreboard with messaging, give the group a special introduction during the 7th inning stretch. If your team’s scoreboard doesn’t have a messaging option, consider this unique alternative. It would be especially great for company-sponsored events.
Once you know your group has arrived have the PA person welcome them to the park before the game begins. Make sure they are there first. If they don’t hear it, it didn’t happen and they will remember you promised something you didn’t deliver.
A lot of teams in Europe already have some form of concessions food cards. Usually they cost 10€ and can be used at the stands by the person holding it to get whatever food they like. These coupons would be an excellent add-on option for birthday parties. They are much easier for an organizer to handle than cash and they allow for group leaders to use the buddy system when sending kids on their own to pick up food. For example, one sheet for two kids, at most parks, will be enough for them to each receive a hot dog or hamburger and a drink plus share a fries or chips. You can also use the coupons you create for family-four pack nights.
Hint: If you run on-field promotions, this is a great spot to find some willing participants.
You can even offer to have the birthday person guest announce the starting three batters for the home team or select the stadium music for half an inning.
Finally, offer the parents some upgrade options. One that is always popular is the party bag. Teams can make up bags with a few small merchandise options in it like a key chain and sticker, and then give the birthday person an autographed ball from the team. If you have some old balls the team can’t use anymore, offer them to the kids to take home. You might also want to include some sort of games or puzzles that help them learn the rules. You can get creative and custom make puzzles specific to your team! There are plenty of online puzzle making tools to help with the job. Here’s one of our favorites.
In the party bags you can include materials about birthday parties and clinics so that, when the kids get home and tell their parents all about their day and that they want to have their own party at the park, the parents don’t have to do anything more than pick up the phone or write an email to get it handled.
When it comes to groups, kids matter. The more children you can get to an event at the park, the bigger the opportunity to get them involved in your youth programs. More importantly, kids don’t come without parents. More kids means more people in the stands.
It also increases the chances of growing a fan for life. Kids are really impressionable and easily impressed. A chance to do something unique is always enough for any kid to jump in and try something out. If the experience is entertaining to them, they are likely to ask their parents to return. That means the ability to turn a kid that comes for a friend’s birthday, or a special event, into a fan for life is completely in your hands.
Even if they know nothing about the game, given the opportunity to run around the bases, hear their friend announce a batter or see them throw out the first pitch, and receiving a goodie bag from the party with cool baseball stuff, is going to leave an impression on a kid. If you do a PA announcement with the kid’s name in it, or better yet have a scoreboard you can light up in their honor, the other kids will want that for themselves. You’ll not only capture the heart of the kid’s friends but likely book other birthdays with kids who already regularly attend your game.
When you invite new people to the stadium, you will need to get them there by offering something that interests them.
One really easy way to get groups to come to the park is to host themed nights. Select a kid-friendly theme and parents are sure to bring them along. When you host events that honor or support the youth in your community, you are likely to get even more participants. For example, you could have an Olympian Day where all the Jr. Olympians in your area are invited to participate in a pre-game ceremony on the field. Parents and grandparents and siblings will likely be invited along for the event and, by offering a group discount rate for anyone involved with the Olympian Day, you are further increasing the number of bodies willing to come.
Another way to get kids to the park that wouldn’t normally find their way over is to offer a Kid’s Book Day. Do this early in the season and work with the local schools to spread the word. Partner the event with a local kids publishing house. Create a summer reading program through the park that works in conjunction with the one offered through school or the local library. Be another place the kids can earn prizes for reading. You can start by having the publisher offer a free book to any child that signs up to participate at the Book Day event.
You can have the school summer reading lists on-hand to help the parents get that task out of the way and invite the local library to have people on-hand to issue temporary library cards to new readers and hand out details about summer events that they are hosting.
The team could have a spot at the stadium for kids to register all the books they are reading and highlight superstar readers with their photo and announcements on the PA. The top reader of the season could be awarded a day at the park with the family and the honor of throwing out the first pitch.
These are just two examples of the thousands of ways to get kids involved at your park.
We want you to be excited about getting more people to see the game you love so much. One of the fastest group sales you can set up is already at your disposal. Create a Youth Game night. Invite all the families of the kids who already play on your Jr. teams, in your Pony or Little league, attend your academies – any of your developmental programs. Create special events around the night such as letting the kids line up in their position on the field with the players when they take the field for the night’s game and running the bases after the game. You can also set up a pre-game event such as an early morning clinic followed by a mini-game against the Division 2 or B team players and the kids.
You should also include events built into the day that make it crucial, in their parent’s eyes, to be there. For example, you can organize with a local photography studio and the youth program leaders to have the team photos shot at the game. That means all the kids will show up in uniform, which makes an impression on all the other kids in the stands, and it ensures the parents that their kid is relatively clean when the shots are taken.
You could even work with a photo booth company to have a booth on-hand for the day that would have special paper for kids to take photos and get baseball card printed results. Most booths today operate with a USB drive to save the photos. If kids lose their copies, or parents want more, you’ll have everything you need to help them out!
Groups Generate Revenue
Every add-on to a group event, such as the party bags for kids parties or concessions tickets, are an opportunity to increase revenue. One of the reasons we want to keep groups around until the 7th inning is because, the longer they stay, the more they spend. Let’s say you have a company picnic at the park. If, for example, the company boss is scheduled into the dizzy bat race but you don’t have that until the 5th, don’t you think that the people in the company might stick around to see their boss participate? Even if they are not interested in the game, they will be interested in the people they work with every day so get the group’s booking leader to help you find out the best people to get involved and do it. The longer they are there the more they eat and drink.
Food and beverage is another way to generate revenue. Most parks have more than one grill or concession area. If your group is big enough, offer them their own personal grill master or dedicated concessions area. No need to wait in line with the general public. They can pre-purchase BBQ and beer for the whole group and you’ll cook it up, made to order. When an environment is new, especially where kids are involved, it’s always great to offer people the option to do a minimal amount of wandering to get what they need. Provide for their basic needs, offer some bonus materials like rules cards, and provide a takeaway like games and puzzles, and you’ll be not only easing the tensions but opening up the door for exploration. Once their mind is open to the game then you have the chance to gain a new fan.
Groups are only limited in experience by your team’s ability to deliver. Never offer more than you can handle. Beyond that, let your imagination do the organizing and, before you know it, their faces will become regulars in your crowd.
One final note. Book your groups in early in the season. The earlier you book them, the more chances they will come back later in the summer. Also, the sooner you start group bookings, the better the chances for your current fans to see the change and ask about their own party at the park options.