Fans Liaison Committee – February 2008

Ticket Office manager Carol Taylor joined Chairman Paul Duffen, Commercial Director Andy Dawson and Fans Liaison Officer Dan Pratt for February’s Fans Liaison Committee meeting at the KC Stadium. On the agenda then was ticketing, in particular the creation of a new loyalty scheme to establish purchase priority for regular fans when tickets are few in number or highly sought after, such as away games, cup games and *gasp* play off games…

Ticket Priority/New CRM system
After the Chelsea game, the club received complaints over the way tickets were allocated to non passholders. The issues were varied but one gripe that arises every time there is a high profile cup game or away game is that of regular match attendees, who for whatever reason are unable to commit to buying a season pass, receiving no priority over those who don’t go to many games.

At the September FLC meeting, when many of these ticketing issues were raised, the club held up its hands and said the system isn’t right, and that the club plan to equip the ticket office with new Customer Relationship Management software that will assist when such matters inevitably arise again.

The CRM system is in place and the club are in the testing stage now, and intend to have everything in place for the start of the 2008/2009 season in August. Yet to be decided though, is the manner in which priority is given, and after researching what loyalty scheme arrangements are in place at other Championship clubs, it was decided that the best model was that of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The FLC were shown details of the scheme at Molineux (http://www.wolves.premiumtv.co.uk/page/LoyaltyScheme/0,,10307,00.html )and asked for their opinions.

Wolves’ fans earn points each time they purchase tickets, notching up 10 points for each game they buy briefs for, be it a league game, a cup game, a home game or an away game. Members of the ‘Young Wolves’ scheme get 50 points, and those who subscribe to the Ticket Priority Scheme, a pass that covers the 8 games considered by Wolves to be the most attractive home league fixtures of the season (strangely, City’s victory at Molineux earlier this year wasn’t one of the Cool garner 100 points. The option for passholders to purchase their own seat for cup or play off games will not change, and Season Ticket Holders will always be in the first queue for tickets as they are awarded 1000 points. A non passholder who buys a ticket for every league game, home and away, would only muster 460 points.

In the run up to a high demand game, the club will announce how many points are needed to have first dibs on a ticket before they go on general sale. All in all, the Molineux model seems a pretty fair system.

It was noted that Wolves do not discriminate between home games and away games, some on the FLC felt attending an away game should entitle a supporter to a few more points, 15 say, instead of 10. Others suggested having a sliding scale that awards more points the farther the away game is from Hull. Attending Plymouth away is more difficult than attending Scunthorpe away and should merit more loyalty points think some.

Wolves say they used to work on that basis but later decided to make all games 10 points after complaints and our club has taken note. City have a passionate band of supporters based in the south, so for them, Plymouth is easier to get to than Scunthorpe, and if say, 30 points were awarded for going to the Plymouth away game, compared to 10 for a home game, that would give a City fan living in or near Plymouth and going to a game there the same amount of points as someone who attends 3 home games, and that didn’t seem right. It’s a potentially contentious issue and one the club would like feedback on, should away games merit more points than home games, or as in the Wolves model should all games be treated as equal? Let us know your views.

The OSC representative wondered if members of the lottery scheme would still receive any preference under the new loyalty point scheme. This is a possibility, though the consensus around the table was that this should only be a small points reward if so, say, one home game worth of points. Commercial director Andy Dawson, when discussing the implementation of the CRM software at a previous meeting, implied that purchases from Tiger Leisure could count towards any loyalty scheme, but Carol Taylor said this isn’t in the club’s thinking at this time, which is good. Buying tiger branded tat is no real indicator of level of support, whereas attending matches, home or away, is.

The Hull City Southern Supporters representative wondered how their members would fare under this scheme, but was given assurances that they would be looked after. 45 of the 105 HCSS members that the club know about are passholders anyway, so automatically qualify for high demand tickets, and the ticket office has a good relationship with the southern contingent and would work problems out as they arose, but given the loyalty of HCSS members, this scheme is more likely to benefit them than prove a hindrance.

The loyalty system will be reset each year, though past data can be used if needed, if say a high demand game comes very early in the season when few game by game points will have been allocated, such as the Chelsea league cup tie this season.

The system is highly flexible, and has some very cool features. Once the club have determined what number of points will be required for first round of sale ticket eligibility, the software has the functionality to text and/or e-mail all those who have the prerequisite point total to say how and when they can get hold of the briefs. The system is ready to use right now, and though the loyalty scheme system will not come into effect till the start of next season, the club will have a ‘dry run’ and collate data on this years ticket sales from now till May so they are fully familiar with how it works come August, and because we might need it should City reach the play offs. Ulp!

Your opinions on the matter are requested, especially with regard to the number of points allocated, and this system will be discussed again next month.

With the main item on the agenda discussed, the meeting reverted to the usual roundtable discussion…

Attendances and Marketing
One FLC member made a stream of consciousness rant about the club not marketing itself that well, hardly fresh news or opinion as we’ve discussed the club doing more to promote itself throughout the city during the last two meetings.

Paul Duffen made the observation that the club didn’t really need to market itself during the time when the team was winning regularly and achieving back to back promotions, but perhaps the club took it’s eyes off the ball in the subsequent years.

The club has done a lot of analysis to see where those who attend City matches are coming from. It appears that the primary demographic is people from outside the city boundaries, those living in the East Riding. This is a stark contrast to the rugby teams whose attendees mostly live in Hull.

The reputation of being a dull side to watch earned last season may have affected ticket sales game to game and it certainly seems to have affected season pass sales in the summer, that number dropped from 14000 to 10000. Having two Super League rugby sides in the city may have had some impact also, overall the number of people watching live sport in the city is increasing, but City’s share is falling.

The efforts to promote the club within the city are ongoing. Discussions with the club’s brewery are ongoing, but that contract is up for renewal anyway and the club are looking at tenders from other breweries. The promotion of the club in brewery pubs will be part of any deal done.

Toilet amenities
Heaters and mirrors were requested for the toilets. It was assumed that the mirrors requested are for above the wash basins, and not so people can watch themselves pee at the urinals. The requests were noted and will be passed to the stadium manager for consideration.

Friendlies abroad
No update on the fan proposed idea of a friendly overseas. This depends on what division we’ll be playing in next year and also needs the consent of the manager. 16 clubs have contacted City about pre-season fixtures but no decisions have been made at this juncture. Some fans would like a trip to Belgium to watch City play Royal Antwerp, who played at the KC Stadium in the summer. That’d be ace, frankly. Someone asked if a pre season tournament was on the cards but Duffman feels not, he thinks there’d be resistance from both the manager and the players, who play more than enough football as it is.

Pitch renovation
A much needed overhaul of the pitch will begin on May 26th, when a good deal of compacted soil will be removed and the pitch re-laid. The work should be done and the new pitch ready in time for the pre-season schedule. Someone asked if there should be a memorial garden created near the stadium since the ashes of some City fans were sprinkled on the pitch, it’s a possibility, but the pitch itself isn’t moving, it’s just having work done on it.

Rugby violence buck passing
A Nectarine asked if there is any will from the club to take the media to task for blaming football fans, namely Hull City fans, for crowd misconduct at Rugby League games. No, was the simple reply. Duffman feels he has said enough on the matter and feels further comment will “give it legs”. As far as the chairman is concerned, if you go to a rugby league match you’re a rugby fan, so if you cause trouble at that match you do so as a rugby league fan, whether you have other sporting affiliations or not, which is a fair point. He also feels that the rugby clubs are in denial about the matter, and would rather pass the blame on than tackle the issue.

Norwich away
There have been reports of some City fans being turned away at the turnstiles at Carrow Road and the HCSS rep said that Norwich appeared to have sold more tickets than the away section could hold. Someone else said that the Canaries ticket office was closed at kick off. Hull City was not aware of this as no one had complained to the club about this.

Unreserved seating abolished
Someone had heard a whisper that unreserved seating would be done away with, they were right. With unreserved seating the KC Stadium operates at only 90% of capacity, and with the club gearing up to playing Premiership football in the not too distant future, the club does not want the restriction of having 2500 seats unavailable to satisfy safety licensing regulations because of unreserved seating. So, from the start of the 2008/09 season, the KC Stadium will be ‘sell to seat’ for football games.

Passholders who want to take a friend to a game at some point can still ‘sell’ their seat back to the ticket office and then get a ticket for elsewhere in the ground where there are two seats together for the passholder and the one time attendee.

Joint passes
This month’s retarded question from the City-Mad meffs was this…

Since some people struggle to afford to go to both Hull City and Hull FC, why not have joint passes for both? “If they can’t afford to go to every game, how will they pay for a joint pass?” asked Duffman. Indeed. Presumably these people want massively reduced prices, which is of no benefit to the clubs and it’s a bit of a slap in the face of regular City passholders, who would pay more per game to watch City than people who watch eggchasing too. Here’s a tip, stop being a rugby meff and just watch City.

E1 Seating
Closed following crowd disturbances at the West Brom home game, the first block of seating in the East Stand will re-open for the Burnley game. However this area will be available to passholders only for the time being, and no migration will be permitted.

Some felt the stewarding was needlessly aggressive at the Blackpool game, when fans from both sides were ejected for what some perceived was ‘just banter’. It was queried why an ejected Blackpool fan was escorted, and effectively paraded to the City fans, to the large corner exit when he was near a vomitary and could have been taken out there with a minimum of fuss and showiness. Overall it is felt that stewarding and policing of the KC Stadium has improved though, stewards are directed to take a common sense approach to fans standing and the club now have a much improved dialogue with the local police force. Indeed the Football League recently cited the club as an example of good stewarding. One rep was tasked with asking what the chairman ‘made of the police’s meet and greet policy and the effect it has on atmosphere’, a question that baffled most in the room. Meet and greet? Eh?

Someone asked why away fans are not held back after games. Err, because we have a great big fence separating the sets of fans which renders holdbacks unnecessary. The club are satisfied with the current egress plan.

Sports Bar
There were no seats in the Sports Bar on a recent matchday. They haven’t been permanently removed, they were being cleaned.

There were fewer recurrent problems in the Sports Bar when there was a designated manager, but he left, the club will look at replacing him.

The price of Coke has been reduced in the bar and lounges, if you think draft lager is pricey, consider that a pint of Georgia black water would previously have set you back £3.60!

Food counters
The food counter shutters are in need of a good clean, at a recent game, a glob of chewed and discarded gum that was stuck to the underside of the shutters fell into one fan’s hot drink, eew! This was noted.

Miscellaneous
The no hot water problem appears to have migrated from the West Stand to the South.

There will be no more block bookings for the Tiger Travel service. Several instances of passengers flouting the no alcohol rule have led the club to change how they sell seats on the coaches, from now the club will only issue tickets to named fans.

Some City fans from Goole wanted to be picked up on the side of the road but this isn’t going to happen. Some fans request individual pick ups but this is very hard to organise and leads to resentment from those who live in outlying areas and do make the trip to the KC Stadium for Tiger Travel pickup.

The City branded plaggy beer glasses should be in use by the season’s end. Will they be available to buy? Um, maybe.

Research suggests that backpack clad drinks hawkers are more effective when selling cold drinks on hot days rather than the other way round, so you may not see them again ’til August. If you saw them at all that is, there have been more sightings of Bigfoot* at the Circle than these alleged hawkers.

*More than likely, they saw batfink, as Bigfoot doesn’t wear adidas track tops.


Les Motherby