Beanpot Sale: What Went Wrong? How Can It Be Fixed?

January 23, 2012


2 years ago, I sat outside in the freezing cold, on what I think was Martin Luther King Day, waiting for Beanpot tickets.  The sale started at 9, but there were hundreds of kids  in a line that wrapped around the outside of Matthews by 8 o’clock.

Last year, they came up with a better idea: let everyone wait inside.  They gave out numbered vouchers at the door along with free hot chocolate and everyone sat around in the stands while the team practiced.   Coach Cronin even took the time to address the fans and thank them for coming out.

Both of these sales were well publicized, weeks before the Beanpot and were very well attended.   The same cannot be said for this year’s sale.

About a week ago, an email was sent to the students announcing that “Free Beanpot Vouchers” would be given out the Women’s Hockey game on 1/21.  Reading the email quickly, it almost sounded like they were giving out free Beanpot Tickets.  In reality, they were just forcing everyone to go to the women’s game to get a voucher that would allow them to come back the next day and buy their tickets.  The first 300 out of the 1000 got to buy them that day after the 2nd period of the women’s game. There was also free concessions and a free Beanpot shirt promised.

The free concession was pizza (which ran out pretty quick) and pretzels (that were gone before they could even be warmed up).  Drinks were not free.  The shirts were apparently given out of after the game, but no one seemed to be aware of that and not many were staying to find out.  And as of right now, plenty of tickets still remain.  Basically it was a disaster.  So what went wrong?

First of all, the promotion was not good enough.  I get 5 emails a day from Northeastern about sports, events, and all sorts of stuff I don’t care about.   People don’t read through their emails.  If you want people to read it, then make sure it is clear.  The Email should be titled: Beanpot Ticket Sale and it should be short and just tell people where and when to pick up the tickets.  Thats all people care about.   The email that got sent out was probably not even skimmed by most people.  Announcements should have been made much more frequently at games and there should have been signs all over campus.  And most importantly, the school should be using channels the students actually pay attention to.  The Doghouse could and should be used as an asset to the school.  If the school had asked the Doghouse to set up a Facebook event or send out a message, everyone would have known about this.   They didn’t and an alarming amount of people had no clue.

The second issue was timing.  Why is the sale being done 2 weeks before the game?  And why is the sale being announced a only week before it happens?   The sale should be done early and it should be announced even earlier so that word has time to spread.  But the biggest issue with regard to timing was having it at 2 o’clock on a Saturday.  No one wants to give up their Saturday afternoon, especially during a Rangers-Bruins game.  People would rather wake up early and wait in line, then give up a Saturday afternoon and the ticket sales this year clearly show that.

I understand that the women’s game was on ESPN3 and it was a big deal, but trying to piggyback the Beanpot sale on it was a bad idea..  Plenty of people came, grabbed a voucher and some food and then left.  That’s what I did.  I wasn’t going to sit around for 2 hours waiting for a free t-shirt when I had to come back to Matthews in a couple hours for the men’s game.

This whole situation has a very easy solution: the Ncentives program.  NCentives was started last year, or maybe it was just publicized for the first time last year.  But you get points for going to any Northeastern sporting events.  Womens teams and less popular sports are worth more points than hockey and basketball.  At the end of the year, they give out prizes to the people with the most points.  This year, no one has said one word about it and thats a huge issue.

Ncentives should be all Athletics talks about.   Make it a big thing.   Here’s my suggestion:  Instead of making people line up for Beanpot tickets, use Ncentives.  The people who go to the most games get first dibs on tickets.  In fact, you could use Ncentives for every game.   People would start going to more games (for Hockey and for other sports) if they knew it meant the difference between them getting tickets for BC/BU games or not.  So instead of forcing everyone to go to the women game for a piece of paper,  just make it be worth a lot more Ncentive points.  The second part of this would improving the prizes.  Hats are nice, but its not going to get people out the games.  Why not offer dinner with the coaches or maybe a chance to skate with the team?  There are plenty of prizes they could add that would cost them little to no money.  Ncentives was/is a great idea, but it is being completely underutilized.

This isn’t meant to slam the Athletics department because they do a lot of things well.  But this Beanpot Sale was a clear failure and there is no excuse for it because they have been doing it much more successfully in the past.  The administration clearly wants to be a big time university and having a good athletics department will only help that.  Its time for Athletics to start using the tools that are available to them and helping to improve student support of all athletic teams.



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