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Season tickets.

The charge: Design an education marketing strategy to accomplish the following objectives:

* Increase program quality and quantity.

* Service five geographic regions.

* Provide relevant education for all member agency departments and specialties.

* Encourage members to send as many staff as possible to programs.

* Maintain low registration fees.

* Make a profit.

The solution: the "Season Ticket" program. After nine years, the series at the Washington Health Care Association, Olympia, grosses nearly $30,000 and adds $12,000-$18,000 to our annual net.

The structure of the Season Ticket program allows any number of staff from a participating member agency to attend any or all programs on the schedule - for one flat fee, paid in advance. Our registration form spells out several provisos: Season tickets may not be traded to other facilities. Tickets are one price all season. Participants must register at least 72 hours before each seminar they plan to attend; walk-ins pay regular full price. Season tickets apply only to series programs. Ticket price includes materials and break refreshments. There are no refunds.

I follow four steps each year.

1. Topics and speakers. The education committee and I plan offerings that will still be relevant in 12-18 months. I'm responsible for securing expert educators, a mix of paid speakers, consultants, and vendor-sponsored speakers. I allow speakers from the latter categories to hand out marketing materials outside the classroom.

2. Dates and locations. The season runs from June to March. Planning this far in advance, the speakers and I have the luxury of agreeing on dates that best fit our schedules. Then I can negotiate with hotels or determine the meeting city and negotiate a site later. Originally I intended to offer every session in two locations; now most are presented three times, some just once in a major metropolitan area, and some in up to seven locations.

3. Budget and pries. For a working budget, I know my costs for speaker fees; speaker (and single staffer if I have no volunteer to oversee logistics on site) travel; room rental, audiovisual, meal and refreshments; printing; staff overhead; and emergencies. I can project within a few hundred dollars total expenditure for the full season.

I base projected income on season ticket sales and individual registrations. Season ticket price depends on the number of beds a member facility is licensed for and ranges from $233 to $633; nonmembers pay another $100.

4. Marketing and sales. Each year the Season Ticket brochure is based on the convention theme: Our 1991 convention theme was "Champions of Care" and our 1991-92 Season Ticket theme is "The Championship Season." The promotion - with a brief description of each educational program and our list of provisos - is mailed twice before March.

Each workshop is marketed as a freestanding event. I attempt to run each in the black without touching season ticket revenue. If we sold $21,000 in season tickets for seven offerings, each would have $3,000 dedicated to cover costs. The largest group I've had from any one facility was 17; most can send only two or three people to each workshop. I offer an optional meal at hotel cost and negotiate the meeting room rate based on the number of meals sold. Last year 40 facilities bought season tickets, and about 170 others went to individual sessions and paid a higher price.

That's how the program really benefits members. I can plan top seminars in locations that could not be supported on a freestanding basis.

Daniel French is director of education and communications at the Washington Health Care Association, Olympia.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:annual tickets to the Washington Health Care Association's programs
Author:French, Daniel
Publication:Association Management
Article Type:Column
Date:Nov 1, 1991
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