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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown goes "FOSS".
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:28 am 

Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:31 am
Posts: 360
We may look at it as just $7, but a family of five pays $35 before they even get in the park. If they take the Scranton Limited excursion, that's another $5 pp, or $25. So now you are at $60. Shifting those dollars to aspects of the operation that can maximize the revenue is smart. The trick will be for the park to offer more pay services without becoming a circus.


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown goes "FOSS".
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:41 am 

Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:08 am
Posts: 220
superheater wrote:
Park Superintendent Debbie Conway stated, “This was really an easy decision to make. The goal in dropping our park entrance fee is to encourage more people to come and visit this great historic site.”


If we take Superintendent Conway's statement at face value, then it does appear to be a tacit admission that their research indicated that an appreciable number of people do not visit STEA because they do no perceive the value of the experience STEA to be worth the $7.00 adult (over 16) cost. This is not totally a knock on STEA. As Mr. Rowlands and Supe pointed out, a museum experience likely has less value to a sizable portion of the marketplace than a pack of cigarettes, a visit to Disney, or a ticket to a professional sporting event. As I mentioned, the view of what is an appropriate entry fee is skewed downward further at a government-run facility like STEA because many taxpayers have a sense of ownership and sort of view an entry fee as paying twice.

If my economic analysis of the revenue streams is correct, then it is likely that Superintendent Conway is being politically astute in her public comments. If they have found that most visitors spend a predetermined amount for a day out at a place like STEA, then it makes sense to have those visitors spend the money in a way that the highest percentage goes directly back to STEA at the least cost to STEA - that is excursion tickets, donations, and bookstore purchases. While STEA only gets some percentage of bookstore purchases, the bookstore is operated by Eastern National which covers the cost of operation so that money, except for maybe lights and heat, costs STEA nothing. Eliminating the entrance fee eliminates STEA paying for staff to collect a fee that only returns 80 cents on the dollar to STEA.

Hey Supe- no need to capitalize "estimate" - my eyesight with the glasses is still pretty good. Seriously, short of paying someone with a hand clicker to count visitors, which would be a total waste of money, the Park Service must have some algorithm to calculate visitor numbers that takes into account everyone that does not buy an entry ticket i.e. those with Park passes and those under 16. My guess is that this is somehow based, as in many professional sports, on entry ticket sales. So my question was directed as to how they calculate visitor numbers without having an entry ticket number to start with.


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown goes "FOSS".
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:55 am 

Joined: Thu May 06, 2010 10:30 pm
Posts: 591
Location: Bucks County, PA
According to the comments sections on various Facebook posts (in various groups, as well as on Steamtown's official FB page), quite a few people are excited about the park being fee-free, and word is being spread about it positively to others. This could very well be a very good thing for the park overall - we'll just have to see.

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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown goes "FOSS".
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:28 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8301
Location: Baltimore, MD
Do the research (because I don't have time today):

Several noted museums, such as in my own town the world-class Walters Art Museum and Baltimore Museum of Art, have profoundly changed their business models based on introducing free admission.

The Walters began having free admission year-round starting in October 2006 as a result of substantial grants given by Baltimore City and the surrounding suburban Baltimore County arts agencies and authorities--some public, others private. My (anecdotal) understanding is that this resulted in a substantial uptick in Museum memberships, grants, and donations, in spite of Museum memberships often being bought just as "year-round passes" like at many other museums.

The concept seems to be that if you improve access and encourage the public to think of it as "their" museum, they will take a more active role than if it remains a high-priced attraction. You make it something that others will contribute to, because they have a stake and see the good it does across the socio-economic strata.
Now, of course, this also has its pitfalls, as the same mentality encourages others yet to think "my tax dollars pay for it; I don't have to contribute any money/time..." that even the not-taxpayer-funded-at-all B&O Railroad Museum across town has to deal with from ignorant people.


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown goes "FOSS".
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:51 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1709
@Scranton Yard

The reason I capitalized "estimate" is because it is like parts of corporate financial statements-"contains significant estimates by management". There are those who may not realize that unlike a sports stadium or theater-there's no turnstyle controlling and counting entry. In short the emphasis wasn't a presumption about you, but clarity for others.

As for speculating as to the motivations for the elimination, no need. Superintendent Conway met with members of the Iron Horse Board last Saturday (09/30) and explained that it was a simple costs and benefits calculation.

I will tell you that a small, but significant number of people register the discontent of a belief that since the Site is taxpayer funded, an entry fee is annoying. Most understand that a ride requires both the marginal costs of fuel and maintenance and understand that absent a substantial number of volunteer crews -they would pay more.

Now, anybody persisting in comparing Steamtown to a theme park fails Marketing 101-this, I think the source of Mr. Rowland's long-standing dissatisfaction-in his mind Steamtown should be a theme park offering rides-but it is not.

Theme parks have no preservation mandate-as the shrinking number of us who remember Rocky Glen/Ghost Town in the Glen in nearby Moosic, PA can attest to-the rides and gunfights exist only on film, now, because the owners closed up shop, and sold some assets and demolished some structures.


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown goes "FOSS".
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:12 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:31 am
Posts: 360
If they are collecting 100% of the revenue from the shuttles, then they should boost the ticket price from $5 to $7 to offset the loss of the entry fee. That is still reasonable considering you aren't paying to get in.

They could generate even more if they would loosen up their policy on hosting events by outside agencies, but I don't expect that to happen. If I recall correctly, they refused to grant a permit to Toys for Tots a few years back because the event didn't involve rail preservation.


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown goes "FOSS".
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:19 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:31 am
Posts: 360
Sort of petty to give Toys for Tots, which is run by the Marine Corp Reserve, the boot...

Quote:
The Festival of Trees, a Toys for Tots fundraiser, had historically been held at the Lackawanna County Trolley Museum, which is on federally owned property where fundraising is not allowed.


http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/busine ... -1.1972054


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown goes "FOSS".
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:23 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 5:19 pm
Posts: 387
Location: Bowie, MD
When my family traveled through the area some years ago, we had about three hours budgeted for Scranton, including lunch at the mall. I hesitated shelling out the money knowing the time constraint; only my personal desire to see NKP 759 resulted in forking over the credit card.

Bob


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown goes "FOSS".
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:49 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2423
There are a couple of factors that may be at play here:

Consider the average tourist, who's not a railfan. He's been to the Rustbucket and Western and maybe the Museum of Passenger Cars Rusting and Rotting in the Rain. Neither were a very good experience. Now you want me to pay $7 to get in, and then I have to pay even more to ride on the train? Nah, not falling for that noise!

We know what Steamtown is about, but the average tourist may not have a clue. Maybe they've been to Strasburg or Sacramento, but maybe they've been to the Perpetually Under-funded Collection of Random Railcars. Since there are more of the second variety than the first, chances favor the not so great impression.


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown goes "FOSS".
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:05 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:08 am
Posts: 220
superheater wrote:
Now, anybody persisting in comparing Steamtown to a theme park fails Marketing 101- ...Theme parks have no preservation mandate-as the shrinking number of us who remember Rocky Glen/Ghost Town in the Glen in nearby Moosic, PA can attest to-the rides and gunfights exist only on film, now, because the owners closed up shop, and sold some assets and demolished some structures.


Hey Supe - thanks for the clarification on the visitor count and for looking into how they calculate it when you have a chance. For a minute there I thought that you thought I was Mr. Magoo.

As for the difference between STEA and a theme park, I agree that the preservationists on this board see a difference but, to the average consumer of leisure-time entertainment, theme parks, professional sporting events, or museums are all lumped into the same consumption bucket. The challenges museums face in competing for the leisure/entertainment dollar have been well discussed in other threads on this board.

bbunge - your point about time constraints is another reason why this move makes a lot of sense. Many of the larger Park Service sites, such as Yellowstone and Grand Canyon, charge a fee which is good for seven days. These are destination parks where people mostly show up at the gate because they intend to spend an appreciable amount of time there. Our first visit to STEA was also in the middle of a road trip. Like you, I opened my wallet for just an hour or two of time at the site, because we had at least two rail history enthusiasts out of four in the vote. Eliminating the fee encourages a first visit, even if it is unplanned, and increases the chance that people will come back for a longer look when their schedule allows.


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown goes "FOSS".
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:17 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1709
"Sort of petty to give Toys for Tots, which is run by the Marine Corp Reserve, the boot..."

What does this have to do with the matter at hand?


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown goes "FOSS".
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:19 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:25 pm
Posts: 1791
Free admission could help build a loyal local/regional audience of families and friends interested in the broader museum experience through repeat visits.

Wesley


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown goes "FOSS".
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:25 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:31 am
Posts: 360
superheater wrote:
"Sort of petty to give Toys for Tots, which is run by the Marine Corp Reserve, the boot..."

What does this have to do with the matter at hand?



The point is that the park expects to make up for the entry fee on the other end. One way to do that would be to collect permit fees on after-hour events by local entities. But that isn't going to happen if they continue to be overly restrictive with who is granted a permit.

This issue also cropped up with the suggested "movie night" in another post, with the Iron Horse society facing scrutiny over what would/could be shown, even when they are fundraising for the park.


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown goes "FOSS".
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 2:10 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1709
"This issue also cropped up with the suggested "movie night" in another post, with the Iron Horse society facing scrutiny over what would/could be shown, even when they are fundraising for the park."

You mean the attempt to convolute raising funds in a NPS site for the NPS site and raising funds for an external entity.


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown goes "FOSS".
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 2:38 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:31 am
Posts: 360
superheater wrote:
"This issue also cropped up with the suggested "movie night" in another post, with the Iron Horse society facing scrutiny over what would/could be shown, even when they are fundraising for the park."

You mean the attempt to convolute raising funds in a NPS site for the NPS site and raising funds for an external entity.



How is that convoluted? The Iron Horse Society, by its mission statement, is a non-profit advocate for the park. That's the whole mission. What does it matter if they want to show Jaws 3 in the theater, so long as it raises money for park activities?

As far as outside entities, you charge a fee to use the space, like any other venue. I understand that the NPS would rather all activities be solely about rail preservation, and specifically related to the park. A policy like that only serves to make sure the space remains unused because very, very few events can fit that narrow window of interpretation.


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