As I mentioned in my blog entry about Kansas City, Phoenix Bats held a Billy Butler Youth Replica Bat giveaway on July 18th with the Kansas City Royals and Fox Sports Kansas City. For this giveaway, Phoenix Bats worked arduously with the Kansas City Royals Special Events and Promotions department. I had the opportunity to meet Kasey Schweitzer, the Royals’ Manager of Special Events and Promotions. I questioned Kasey about the thought process that goes into each promotional giveaway at a ballpark.
How do you schedule promotions for the upcoming season? How early in advance do you need to schedule them?
KS: We (Kasey and her department) will start planning for the 2011 season in late July or early August. As we lay things out, we start to see if we want to give away more of this item or that item based off of current promotions. We then narrow the promotion down to see if the promotional item should be a kid’s giveaway, or if it should it be for all fans. We want to have a variety of people getting the promotional item and encourage them to want to come back to more ballgames.
What are the criteria for a giveaway?
KS: We want the giveaway to be an item that people see as value. We want people to look at the giveaway and say, “That item has good value, it will be worth it to buy this ticket and get the item.”
How do you determine if a promotion is successful enough to repeat next year?
KS: The telling factor with promotions is attendance. You look at the attendance and really see how those things draw on each other. We do a T-shirt Tuesday giveaway one Tuesday a month. You can look at a T-shirt Tuesday compared to a non-T-shirt Tuesday game and see the difference in attendance. You can also look at a Saturday where we give away a replica jersey compared to a Saturday where we give away a cap, and you see a big difference in attendance as well. A cap giveaway is going to be a good draw at the ballpark, but a jersey giveaway will be a sellout.
Have any odd promotional ideas come across your way?
KS: Hmmm……I don’t know if I can really answer that question because I haven’t had any crazy ideas come up to me since I’ve been in this position. Kansas City and the Midwest is a very conservative, family oriented area. Everything we do for a promotion goes along with that approach.
In addition to scheduling promotional giveaways, your job title suggests that you also handle special events. What events outside of the promotional giveaways does your department run?
KS: Aside from the giveaways, we have a 610 Saturday where we provide a band, different contests, specials and other entertainment features. We do theme nights like 80’s Night. We have our Salute to the Negro Leagues night, which is nice because we can partner with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum that is here in Kansas City. We do other programs like Christmas in July where we partner with one of the big Christmas radio stations in town and host a toy drive. We try to make the events very cohesive and hold events that make sense. We aren’t going to throw some random event just to try and get people here, but try to make events that make sense and execute them well.
Are there heritage nights or community nights that your department hosts as well?
KS: We host a lot of different events that have a wide range of appeal. You’ve got the Negro Leagues day for the baseball fan that comes out and sees the former Negro Players. There is Girls Night Out, an event we do twice a year. It is for the women that might come out to the ballpark only once a year. Girls Night Out has become a huge event out here. One date benefits the Susan G. Komen foundation while the other benefits the American Heart Association. We open up the outfield early, have a huge pre-game party and vendors such as Macys come out and set up booths. We even have a fashion show, so we really run the gamut on the special events to draw people that might not always come.
How does working in Kansas City, a smaller baseball market compared to New York or Los Angeles, affect the promotions your department runs?
KS: There are a lot of markets that don’t do any giveaways. Your large markets like New York, Boston, or Los Angeles rarely have giveaways. Part of deciding a promotion does involve looking across Major League Baseball and finding what promotions have worked for other teams. We draw on those ideas to see what would work here in Kansas City. A promotion that might work well in Tampa Bay might not work in Kansas City. But we might be able to adjust something that works in Tampa Bay to become a good item here. For example, the Marlins or the Rays might give away a beach set, we aren’t going to give away a beach set, but we can look for something that has that same perception, like a barbecue set.
Do you have a favorite promotional giveaway?
KS: I don’t have a specific favorite but you can look and see that fan favorites are always bobbleheads. I had a season ticket holder call me and ask me about all of the bobbleheads we have had in the last five years so he could make sure he had all of them.
Last year we didn’t give away any bobbleheads, we gave away figurines of our retired numbers instead. People liked the figurines because they had a connection to the new stadium but many still missed the bobbleheads. Anytime you do a bobblehead giveaway, there will be a huge crowd as people seem to love the item.
Thank you to Kasey for taking the time to be interviewed. Having gone to a Royals game firsthand, her department does a tremendous job with promotional giveaways at Kauffman Stadium. I have no doubt that her influence plays a part in the high quality of promotions at Royals games.
-Eitan the Intern