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 Post subject: Re: Christmas/Polar/Santa/Halloween Train Marketing
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:18 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:17 am
Posts: 226
Location: New York
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
An idea... Rather than focusing on a make-believe magical train to the North Pole... focus on a real train that connects real people...


Respectfully, you're thinking like a railfan, and not like a family looking to entertain their small children. Polar Express and other "make-believe" trips to the North Pole sells tickets in mass quantities, and when it comes to revenue generation, sales are what count. That's not to say every museum needs to abandon their mission of preservation, but there's a time to teach, and a time to generate revenue to maintain the collection.

-otto-

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President, Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum
Rochester, N.Y.


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas/Polar/Santa/Halloween Train Marketing
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:25 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:17 am
Posts: 226
Location: New York
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
Today is August 8th... Has your line had to start marketing Christmas or Halloween trains yet?


We've already started promoting our annual Fall Foliage Express (October 5), and we'll soon start promoting our Pumpkin Patch Trains and our North Pole Express... Why? Because mothers with small children email me in JULY asking when tickets will go on sale! We're usually deep in our regular season and we don't think about marketing our seasonal events until at least mid-August. And yes, the emails I get are from anxious mothers who heard the event sold out last year and don't want to miss out.

And yes, we operate a "North Pole Express" where children and their families ride up to the "North Pole" to meet Santa Claus and visit with his elves. It's a very small, intimate event with lots of smiles and happy faces. The reason is two-fold: We don't have the capacity to operate a licensed Polar Express, nor do we wish to pay the licensing fee for such an event at this time. If the capacity suddenly became available, I think our board of trustees would certainly consider it based on the return on investment possible.

Visit www.RochesterTrainRides.com to see our full schedule of events.

-otto-

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—Otto M. Vondrak
President, Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum
Rochester, N.Y.


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas/Polar/Santa/Halloween Train Marketing
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:51 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 450
"Respectfully, you're thinking like a railfan, and not like a family looking to entertain their small children. Polar Express and other "make-believe" trips to the North Pole sells tickets in mass quantities, and when it comes to revenue generation, sales are what count. That's not to say every museum needs to abandon their mission of preservation, but there's a time to teach, and a time to generate revenue to maintain the collection."

I'm not really thinking like a railfan, I'm applying what I have seen non-railfan events (Greenfield Village Holiday Nights, Dollywood, and Epcot) and thinking how a railroad could copy the spirit of what they do, with a reasonable budget.

Those events have substance and create a yearly ritual that families want to attend as the kids grow.

I used to be a car host for Polar Express trains, they were alot of fun to work. I'm not against them in anyway, but I think too many railroads just copy that model instead of thinking outside the box and creating an event that could potentially bring in more revenue and attract a bigger audience while directly serving their mission.


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas/Polar/Santa/Halloween Train Marketing
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:23 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:46 pm
Posts: 2055
Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
I rode the cider train at Mt Rainier on Saturday and had a nice short chat with the COO of the operation there. She said that American Heritage Railways (the operating group that runs Mt Rainer RR, The Silverton Train and the Great Smokey Mountains operation) also manages all the Polar Express licensing. I hadn't known that before.
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
Oregon Rail Society (4449 and 700) just call it "The Holiday Express" - they always sell out... 9 trains a day!
Yeah, but the Portland Group did that for many years before the book and movie came out...

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 Post subject: Re: Christmas/Polar/Santa/Halloween Train Marketing
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:31 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 450
p51 wrote:
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
Oregon Rail Society (4449 and 700) just call it "The Holiday Express" - they always sell out... 9 trains a day!
Yeah, but the Portland Group did that for many years before the book and movie came out...


Incorrect. The book was published in 1985. The movie released in 2004.

The first Oregon Rail Heritage Holiday Express was in 2005.


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas/Polar/Santa/Halloween Train Marketing
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 7:25 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:46 pm
Posts: 2055
Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
p51 wrote:
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
Oregon Rail Society (4449 and 700) just call it "The Holiday Express" - they always sell out... 9 trains a day!
Yeah, but the Portland Group did that for many years before the book and movie came out...


Incorrect. The book was published in 1985. The movie released in 2004.

The first Oregon Rail Heritage Holiday Express was in 2005.

Okay so what did they call is before the movie came out? I know they has Christmas theme trains long before the movie came out. Did they call them something different at one point?

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 Post subject: Re: Christmas/Polar/Santa/Halloween Train Marketing
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 7:43 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 450
Just to be clear I’m talking about the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation that operates the holiday express with 4449 and 700 in Portland Oregon.

They started the Holiday Express in 2005. The organization itself was only 7 years old at that point.


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas/Polar/Santa/Halloween Train Marketing
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 10:44 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 9254
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
Evening of August 12th:

TWO Facebook "promoted posts" in my feed tonight.

I wonder if Facebook's "bots" are spying on me here. (Answer: Probably.)


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas/Polar/Santa/Halloween Train Marketing
PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:20 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 9254
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
Relevant:

Nevada Northern Railway President Mark Bassett says he’s “never seen anything like this.”

Quote:
A year before the railroad’s Great Basin Star Trains are expected to pull out of the depot, all 15 runs planned for 2020 have sold out and the final two runs this year, on Aug. 16 and Sept. 6, sold out months ago. The trains are run in partnership with the nearby Great Basin National Park and take passengers on a trip into the darkness toward McGill where park rangers hold an astronomy party out in the sagebrush with telescopes and other tools to take in the night sky.


More behind the subscriber paywall at:
http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/20 ... in-advance


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas/Polar/Santa/Halloween Train Marketing
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:22 am 

Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 5:47 pm
Posts: 11
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
I have a major problem with such events that sell out within an hour or minutes of tickets becoming available. That means you could sell more, but chose not to.

In my experience, Polar Express does not scale up indefinitely. Once you max out train length and number of "shows" (rides) per night, all you can do is add dates. Then your limiting factor is the willingness of volunteers to take time from their families during the holiday season to work late into the evenings.


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas/Polar/Santa/Halloween Train Marketing
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:27 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 9254
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
Tyler Trahan wrote:
In my experience, Polar Express does not scale up indefinitely. Once you max out train length and number of "shows" (rides) per night, all you can do is add dates. Then your limiting factor is the willingness of volunteers to take time from their families during the holiday season to work late into the evenings.


But most of the operations I'm discussing here--Verde Canyon, Grand Canyon, Strasburg, etc.--do NOT rely on volunteers.

Further, when you're paying people, we presume the "working nights/weekends" aspect applies, AND I'm sure some folks want a boost in pay before the holidays....


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas/Polar/Santa/Halloween Train Marketing
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:45 am 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 931
Location: Tucson, Arizona
PE is so much more than just getting the rights to use the name. Once you sign up with Al's team, you get a high level of customer support to ensure that your offering meets their standards. There have been a few operators who have been taken off PE for their inability to meet the expected standards. Customer Support covers operations and marketing.

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