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Christmas 2018
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terry-moore



Joined: 22 Oct 2004
Posts: 271
Location: HEYWOOD, LANCS

PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If there were so many tickets left, perhaps we should look at the marketing, publicity and pricing of the early Santas rather than leaving people feeling ripped off because they booked early. Yes, we are a business but we are not a retail outlet having American style Black Friday deals which are at best a bit dubious.

How is it that the East Lancashire Railway, whose Santas start a week earlier than the SVR (they are also running Christmas Eve) all but sold out over a week ago. With a 2 train service they will have sold over 40,000 tickets this year.

I know the Kidderminster - Arley Santas are tried and tested and are always popular with the punters but It requires a huge volunteer input. Perhaps it is time to think 'outside the box' and try something a little different. Additional trains from Bridgnorth to Highly with Santa and his helpers on board (even a five piece brass band following Santa through the train as they do on the ELR) might be a start.

I am not moaning just for the sake of it but I feel strongly that Black Friday is just plain wrong for a heritage railway who goes out of its way to get its customers to book early.
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Graham



Joined: 21 May 2011
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Location: The banks of the River Severn as it meanders through the sun dappled leafy glades of Worcestershire

PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2018 7:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

5pm on Friday.



I make that at least 550 tickets sold, or about 1/4 of those remaining.
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cherry_p



Joined: 17 Sep 2003
Posts: 1977
Location: Solihull

PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2018 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now sold 92% of Santa Special tickets.

Yesterday was ‘Black Friday’, where we had the offer for all tickets for the first weekend at £10 instead of £15. Although sales were well ahead of the same time last year, sales for this weekend in particular had slowed down, such that there was little chance of selling out, and this was done to try to sell some. On the day we sold around 1200 tickets for that weekend – without the offer, we would have expected to sell around 75, based on recent sales. So this was very successful. Most of this was hopefully business that we wouldn’t have had at all without the offer, so needs to be considered as an extra £10 rather than a ‘loss’ of £5 per ticket!

We even sold 15 tickets in the last 10 minutes before midnight!

We will hopefully sell a reasonable number for that weekend in the 7 remaining days; for the other weekends, we have longer to sell them, and stand a good chance of selling out most days.
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terry-moore



Joined: 22 Oct 2004
Posts: 271
Location: HEYWOOD, LANCS

PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr Cherry you have totally sidestepped the question of how we have treated the customers who were encouraged to book early and did so. I totally get the need to maximise income but think this way of doing it was a bit shabby.

Whats next years slogan going to be? "Book early and pay an extra fiver". Perhaps we should take some tips from Ryanair - £5 extra to use the first coach next to the engine or an extra £5 to use the toilet while the train is in the station. (flippancy mode). It will be very interesting to compare the Santa tickets sold by the larger heritage railways when the results are known.
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cherry_p



Joined: 17 Sep 2003
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Location: Solihull

PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2018 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

terry-moore wrote:
Mr Cherry you have totally sidestepped the question of how we have treated the customers who were encouraged to book early and did so. I totally get the need to maximise income but think this way of doing it was a bit shabby.

Whats next years slogan going to be? "Book early and pay an extra fiver". Perhaps we should take some tips from Ryanair - £5 extra to use the first coach next to the engine or an extra £5 to use the toilet while the train is in the station. (flippancy mode). It will be very interesting to compare the Santa tickets sold by the larger heritage railways when the results are known.
Sorry - totally disagree -- I know it can be a bit galling to find something cheaper than you have bought it -- it often happens with sales, but it's a risk you take when you buy anything, unless it's stated clearly that prices will NOT be reduced -- this does happen, e.g. with some holiday companies. But we've never said this, and are unlikely to. Though we hope to be in a position where we don't need to discount fares in the first place.

Those who book early do so in order to get the particular train they want -- even on the first weekend, several were already fully booked, and for that matter, you [and we] can't tell at what stage they WILL be fully booked. And most of the trains ARE now fully booked.

We keep a very sharp eye on all the Santa 'competition', whether it be on a railway or otherwise. I believe the decision to have a one-day sale on this occasion was the right thing to do -- it gained the railway about £12,000 that it wouldn't have had otherwise. It may have upset a few people, but it's certainly pleased a lot of others.

As far as the "£5 extra to use.." comment is concerned, that's just what we [and most other railways] do with first class. And a fair number of people are happy to pay it! [though not for Santas -- the logistics of carrying 350 people per train if we had a supplement for 1st class too, would be impossible!
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tg7812



Joined: 08 Aug 2011
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2018 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cherry_p wrote:
terry-moore wrote:
Mr Cherry you have totally sidestepped the question of how we have treated the customers who were encouraged to book early and did so. I totally get the need to maximise income but think this way of doing it was a bit shabby.

Whats next years slogan going to be? "Book early and pay an extra fiver". Perhaps we should take some tips from Ryanair - £5 extra to use the first coach next to the engine or an extra £5 to use the toilet while the train is in the station. (flippancy mode). It will be very interesting to compare the Santa tickets sold by the larger heritage railways when the results are known.
Sorry - totally disagree -- I know it can be a bit galling to find something cheaper than you have bought it -- it often happens with sales, but it's a risk you take when you buy anything, unless it's stated clearly that prices will NOT be reduced -- this does happen, e.g. with some holiday companies. But we've never said this, and are unlikely to. Though we hope to be in a position where we don't need to discount fares in the first place.

Those who book early do so in order to get the particular train they want -- even on the first weekend, several were already fully booked, and for that matter, you [and we] can't tell at what stage they WILL be fully booked. And most of the trains ARE now fully booked.

We keep a very sharp eye on all the Santa 'competition', whether it be on a railway or otherwise. I believe the decision to have a one-day sale on this occasion was the right thing to do -- it gained the railway about £12,000 that it wouldn't have had otherwise. It may have upset a few people, but it's certainly pleased a lot of others.

As far as the "£5 extra to use.." comment is concerned, that's just what we [and most other railways] do with first class. And a fair number of people are happy to pay it! [though not for Santas -- the logistics of carrying 350 people per train if we had a supplement for 1st class too, would be impossible!


If there is a fairly regular pattern to the trains which sell out quickly/slowly I can't help feel that it would, for next year, be better to advertise the 'slow selling' trains at a lower price from the outset. This might avoid leaving some customers with a 'nasty taste in the mouth' which this 'Black Friday' sale risks?

Graham
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cherry_p



Joined: 17 Sep 2003
Posts: 1977
Location: Solihull

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2018 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tg7812 wrote:
If there is a fairly regular pattern to the trains which sell out quickly/slowly I can't help feel that it would, for next year, be better to advertise the 'slow selling' trains at a lower price from the outset. This might avoid leaving some customers with a 'nasty taste in the mouth' which this 'Black Friday' sale risks?

Graham
But they already ARE at a lower price than the final weekend -- £5 cheaper; last year they were only £3.50 cheaper. This is done in the expectation that enough people will decide to save money, even though it's quite some time before Christmas itself, and we will sell them out before the 1st; we will then have a fair number left for the later weekends, for which we have several weeks longer to sell them. But this year, the £5 difference doesn't appear to have been enough. The final Sunday this year sold out quite a bit earlier than the equivalent day last year. I think next year, we will need to make the difference slightly more! Many other railways have the same problem, and the same pattern of changing fares.
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Graham



Joined: 21 May 2011
Posts: 1119
Location: The banks of the River Severn as it meanders through the sun dappled leafy glades of Worcestershire

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2018 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How come the people criticising the pricing structure have waited till now to say anything? Why didn't they suggest these changes before the tickets first went on sale?
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george1941



Joined: 20 Dec 2011
Posts: 30
Location: Rugeley

PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 9:11 am    Post subject: Santa 2018 Reply with quote

Crying or Very sad I think that the booking fee for every ticket is wrong. The Railway implies on most occasions, that if you book early on the web that you save money,,,fine,,,but then the saving is wiped out by the booking fee of £1.75. I have never liked, what I call an underhand system of almost hidden charges.

Why not just do away with it and increase the basic fare? To a family of four it is an extra £8.00, which could equal the fuel in the family car to get there and back.
The booking fee could be dropped, advertised as a "no booking fee" railway, increase passenger numbers (we're running the empty carraiages anyway) and take advantage of the increased opportunities for secondary and third line sales.

The closer the fees become through hidden charges, to Alton towers and Drayton Manor the more we are endangering our passenger traffic revenue.
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cherry_p



Joined: 17 Sep 2003
Posts: 1977
Location: Solihull

PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 9:58 am    Post subject: Re: Santa 2018 Reply with quote

george1941 wrote:
Crying or Very sad I think that the booking fee for every ticket is wrong. The Railway implies on most occasions, that if you book early on the web that you save money,,,fine,,,but then the saving is wiped out by the booking fee of £1.75. I have never liked, what I call an underhand system of almost hidden charges.

Why not just do away with it and increase the basic fare? To a family of four it is an extra £8.00, which could equal the fuel in the family car to get there and back.
The booking fee could be dropped, advertised as a "no booking fee" railway, increase passenger numbers (we're running the empty carraiages anyway) and take advantage of the increased opportunities for secondary and third line sales.

The closer the fees become through hidden charges, to Alton towers and Drayton Manor the more we are endangering our passenger traffic revenue.
The booking fee is £1.75 per BOOKING, not per ticket. So for a family of 4, it's still just £1.75. We have to pay DigiTicket for each booking, and in this case £1.75 is fair. An we DON'T run empty carriages at Christmas -- you've made this comment in the 'Christmas 2018' item, so I presume this is what you are referring to.

There IS an argument for changing this for ordinary days, but again, the booking fee is per BOOKING, not per TICKET.
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threelinkdave



Joined: 22 Dec 2010
Posts: 703
Location: Stratford-upon-Avon

PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 11:01 am    Post subject: Re: Santa 2018 Reply with quote

george1941 wrote:
Crying or Very sad I think that the booking fee for every ticket is wrong. The Railway implies on most occasions, that if you book early on the web that you save money,,,fine,,,but then the saving is wiped out by the booking fee of £1.75. I have never liked, what I call an underhand system of almost hidden charges.

Why not just do away with it and increase the basic fare? To a family of four it is an extra £8.00, which could equal the fuel in the family car to get there and back.
The booking fee could be dropped, advertised as a "no booking fee" railway, increase passenger numbers (we're running the empty carraiages anyway) and take advantage of the increased opportunities for secondary and third line sales.

The closer the fees become through hidden charges, to Alton towers and Drayton Manor the more we are endangering our passenger traffic revenue.
I agree with cherry-p we dont run empty coaches at christmas other than the last down to collect the last of the families going through the grotto. This train returns on ocasions packed.

The SVR tries not to run with more coaches than necessary but what may need to be an 8 coach train off Kidder in the morning which leaves crammed may be longer than necessary during the afternoon as return journeys are more staggered. There is insufficient time to re marshal the train during the day and I need my PNB.
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michaelh



Joined: 08 Oct 2005
Posts: 931
Location: Droitwich Spa

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:26 am    Post subject: Re: Santa 2018 Reply with quote

threelinkdave wrote:
george1941 wrote:
Crying or Very sad I think that the booking fee for every ticket is wrong. The Railway implies on most occasions, that if you book early on the web that you save money,,,fine,,,but then the saving is wiped out by the booking fee of £1.75. I have never liked, what I call an underhand system of almost hidden charges.

Why not just do away with it and increase the basic fare? To a family of four it is an extra £8.00, which could equal the fuel in the family car to get there and back.
The booking fee could be dropped, advertised as a "no booking fee" railway, increase passenger numbers (we're running the empty carraiages anyway) and take advantage of the increased opportunities for secondary and third line sales.

The closer the fees become through hidden charges, to Alton towers and Drayton Manor the more we are endangering our passenger traffic revenue.
I agree with cherry-p we dont run empty coaches at christmas other than the last down to collect the last of the families going through the grotto. This train returns on ocasions packed.

The SVR tries not to run with more coaches than necessary but what may need to be an 8 coach train off Kidder in the morning which leaves crammed may be longer than necessary during the afternoon as return journeys are more staggered. There is insufficient time to re marshal the train during the day and I need my PNB.


You only really save money by running fewer carriages if it means that you can run with a pannier rather than a Bulleid pacific. Otherwise all it does is annoy passengers if the train is crowded and they can't get seats together (or seats at all) - and then that's the message they pass on to their friends, colleagues etc
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