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 Post subject: Re: New Hope & Ivyland 40
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:40 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:01 pm
Posts: 1473
Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
Did any customer try to exchange Diesel tickets as partial credit for the purchase of Steam tickets?


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 Post subject: Re: New Hope & Ivyland 40
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:42 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 5275
J.R. -

The photo of "the engineer" and your grandson, is priceless! It made my day!


Les


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 Post subject: Re: New Hope & Ivyland 40
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:04 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:18 am
Posts: 515
Location: Wall, NJ
One other interesting point. When tickets were purchased on line for the new Hope Santa trains, you had the option to pre-pay for a photo with Santa. Being cheap, I did not choose that option. However, while on the train, my grand son did have his picture taken with Santa and then later in the trip the conductor came along with everyone’s photos, including the one of my grandson, all nicely wrapped for protection, and asked if we would like to buy it. Of course we would!

Couple points here. One is that they not only had the capability to print, frame, and package the photos on the moving train, they also had the ability to take credit/debit cards on the train! And they made a sale that they maybe would not have. Hats off on this one, guys! Not sure who thought of this, but they deserve some real credit here. Again, nicely done.

PS
Less - glad you liked the photo. Its a picture worth a thousand words.

J.R.


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 Post subject: Re: New Hope & Ivyland 40
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 5:06 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:19 pm
Posts: 1708
Location: Pottstown,Pa.
Many thanks to Casey for making my job as engineer so easy by being such a talented fireman and as he spent many days firing and running # 40 through the years our resident authority on her moods ( all steam engines have moods, thus the gender).

Thanks JR for your kind remarks and for your patronage. Truth be told at least half of the immense pleasure I get from being a steam hogger is the chance to introduce the little ones to the magic of steam and watch their imaginations spool up to full throttle. Your grandson was really into it and he was a pleasure to be with. I hope Mom wasn't too mad at his black hands and pocket where he put the lump of coal.

On the business side I'm pleased to report that the Santa Steam Spectacular ( SSS ) product sold strongly throughout the season and easily beat the North Pole Express diesel version in revenues generated. Very interestingly, the SSS 1st. Class seats were the strongest sellers of all and were Sold Out on all weekend runs. I was pleasantly surprised how strongly the SSS product sold with its hefty prices and premiums. I'm grateful for this result as it vindicates managements substantial investment in #40's 3 year rebuild and insures that she will see service on special occasions for years to come.

All in all a great showing for steam and a lot of new steam fans born.

Fond best wishes to all for a healthy, steam filled 2018.

Ross Rowland


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 Post subject: Re: New Hope & Ivyland 40
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:36 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 10:34 pm
Posts: 665
Thank you JR May for the thread contribution. That kind of addition to your Santa Express or Winter Run for any operation is a splendid idea on how to "expand the experience". Trains can be magic, so work with it. Even as a side part time business it is a great idea which would take some planning but with technology available I would think most high school photography students would be able to make this happen. Either for a grade or for extra money. Kind of like adding a dinner train to your organization operations. Best of holidays, John.


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 Post subject: Re: New Hope & Ivyland 40
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:23 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:19 pm
Posts: 1708
Location: Pottstown,Pa.
Yes, we sell a TON of those photos on every train and at $ 20/copy you can just imagine the profit center it generates.

I spent about half my days running the steam version and half running the diesel counterpart and as JR mentioned the enthusiasm/animation by those assembled on the platform was VASTLY greater when the steam engine arrived vs. the diesel. Also, the crowds desire to get pictures of themselves with the steam engine were FAR greater than with the diesel.

So, although we know from experience that 99% of the daisy picker crowd doesn't really care what's pulling their train they sure do associate steam with Santa Claus and we proved that this year for sure.

Interesting and very steam supporting results.

Best regards, Ross Rowland


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 Post subject: Re: New Hope & Ivyland 40
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:52 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 111
co614 wrote:
So, although we know from experience that 99% of the daisy picker crowd doesn't really care what's pulling their train they sure do associate steam with Santa Claus and we proved that this year for sure.

Interesting and very steam supporting results.

Best regards, Ross Rowland


Why on earth do you think the general public only cares about steam when it relates to Santa trains? I can positively guarantee you that more than 99% of your general riders at New Hope care about steam. The idea that the general public doesn't care is just not true.


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 Post subject: Re: New Hope & Ivyland 40
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:26 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 2:41 pm
Posts: 108
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
I can positively guarantee you that more than 99% of your general riders at New Hope care about steam. The idea that the general public doesn't care is just not true.


Agreed 100% and proven to be true time and again. Enough said.

DC


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 Post subject: Re: New Hope & Ivyland 40
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:50 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:19 pm
Posts: 1708
Location: Pottstown,Pa.
Evan as a staunch steam supporter I must state that we ran 3 seasons ( 2014 2015,& 2016) all diesel and our Santa train ridership numbers not only held up from the last previous steam year ( 2013) but grew each year.

That's the markets judgment....which at the end of the day is the only one that counts.

IMHO-Ross Rowland


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 Post subject: Re: New Hope & Ivyland 40
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:06 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:18 am
Posts: 515
Location: Wall, NJ
I have banged my head against the wall with a few folks on the “atmosphere” of an event, keeping in mind I look at events both as a customer and as crew, not to mention a business background in marketing. To me, what sets the M&E Rwy Polar Express event apart from other Polar Express events within perhaps a 50 miles radius is the Whippany Rwy Museum collection which sits in the station area. Last year, my grand kids were thrilled as they walked in from the parking lot along various colorful cabooses and then the #385. Although cold, the #385 makes a striking impression on the kids. Again, its a special atmosphere that other locations may lack. Its this atmosphere that draws people back, bringing others with them.

Looking at New Hope, would their event do well without steam? Sounds like it has. Will it do better with steam? I’d say yes, although it may take a year or so for the complete impact to be realized. Again, there was an atmosphere there that is unique within perhaps a 25 mile radius of the NH station. That atmosphere will draw people back, bringing others with them.

So, while 99% of the paying customers don’t care about steam, they do care about the atmosphere, whether that be steam, friendly conductors, clean bathrooms, etc. Where New Hope hit a home run for 2017 is having steam, plus great bathrooms, plus a good Santa product. I would not look at diesel train versus steam train numbers at New Hope. I’d look at the combined numbers, plus any potential increase in souvenir sales. Perhaps call it the “steam atmosphere” impact.

J.R.


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 Post subject: Re: New Hope & Ivyland 40
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:37 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 111
co614 wrote:
Evan as a staunch steam supporter I must state that we ran 3 seasons ( 2014 2015,& 2016) all diesel and our Santa train ridership numbers not only held up from the last previous steam year ( 2013) but grew each year.

That's the markets judgment....which at the end of the day is the only one that counts.

IMHO-Ross Rowland


That's not a proper market judgment... Your ridership slightly grew? Great. Would it / did it grow more when steam was advertised?

Of the riders who visited the past 3 years, how many of them would have felt that extra "atmosphere" that steam creates and been more enthusiastic to return, or to tell there friends to return?

It's so much more complex than "our ridership numbers are fine without steam"


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 Post subject: Re: New Hope & Ivyland 40
PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 9:16 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:19 pm
Posts: 1708
Location: Pottstown,Pa.
I think Mr. May and others make a very valid point about atmosphere and its effect on a customers perception of value received for money spent. There's zero question that steam adds greatly to the general atmosphere and is a very positive piece of helping generate positive customer response.

However, as we at the NH&I and many others have proven you can run sold out Santa trains pulled exclusively by diesels and all other things being equal save somewhere in the area of 25% of your locomotive operating budget by doing so. Therefore, if your bottom line profit, is at the end of the day, what you care most about then you'll be an all diesel enterprise.

Happily, in the case of the NH&I RR our CEO loves steam and is willing to reduce his net operating profits to accommodate that love. And, all us steam lovers win in the bargain,...... and each year we introduce thousands of youngsters to the magic of steam and the odds are that a few will become lifetime supporters/activists.

Happy New Year-Ross Rowland


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 Post subject: Re: New Hope & Ivyland 40
PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:12 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5452
Location: southeastern USA
It depends on many things, including the limiting factor of your event - are you filling all the seats on all the trips? if so, more trips or more cars might be worthwhile. Do you have empty seats because there's no parking left? Shuttle service might be valuable. These are great problems to have because the arise out of success.....perhaps too much success for some bit of infrastructure, but infrastructure is easy to fix. People not showing up is much harder to fix. Now, are you filling all the seats (or more seats if not selling out) if you run steam but not when you run diesel?

Steam is an integral part of the package of elements that as a whole is what experience you provide. Its relative importance varies. In previous threads we covered topics such as if the Grand Canyon is outside the car windows, nobody cares what pulls the train. Few of us have such impressive scenery as the primary motivation of a visitor...... events also play by different rules than "ordinary operating days."

Experiment and think these things through from a lot of points of view. Bring in people with fresh eyes who aren't railfans for their perspectives to critique your offerings. You may be the world's expert in the history of motive power of the railroad, but they know more about what everybody else wants to experience without that set of blinders on and can tell you what works and what doesn't. remember: their opinions matter much more than yours, since they are your customers and you aren't.

_________________
Santayana: "He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it."
Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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 Post subject: Re: New Hope & Ivyland 40
PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:36 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8784
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
The question has long been whether steam is part of the overall experience being marketed. The drawing power of steam is completely integral to whether it is part of the passengers' expectations.

If you market an "antique car show" and only have 1900-1940 cars, you're going to disappoint those who came who think "antique cars" are '50s Chevys and Corvettes, 1960s "land yachts" and "muscle cars, etc.--and vice versa.

Railroads that market steam or a "trip to the past" lose traffic when the diesel has to substitute--on the W&W in the 1980s, I was told it was a 40-50% downturn in revenues. But when you sell the ride--the dinner train, the murder mystery, the eagles in the canyon--it doesn't matter what the power is, as evidenced by the Verde Canyon, the Potomac Eagle, etc. Indeed, in those latter two cases, I can see a steamer being a distraction! And several British heritage railways noted for steam--Severn Valley, North Yorkshire Moors, Bluebell, etc.--have pulled in Thomas-like attendance with heavily-promoted "vintage diesels weekends/extravaganzas" featuring the moral equivalent of our PRR E8s, Alco FAs, GP9s, FMs, Baldwins, etc.

The issue is not "steam versus diesel"--it's your marketing.


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 Post subject: Antique Car Definition
PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 4:48 pm 

Joined: Fri May 04, 2012 12:20 pm
Posts: 135
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:

If you market an "antique car show" and only have 1900-1940 cars, you're going to disappoint those who came who think "antique cars" are '50s Chevys and Corvettes, 1960s "land yachts" and "muscle cars, etc.--and vice versa.


A neighbor when I was growing up had a magnificent collection of classic automobiles including 1930’s Packards and other great machines. However I always liked his definition of an “antique” car. It was that an antique car should have wheels with wooden spokes and you should light the headlights with a match. Anything else was just an old....possibly classic car, but not an ANTIQUE!

Keith


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