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SVR General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by threelinkdave, Aug 20, 2014.

  1. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    I disagree with that thinking. Two local railways to me are the GWSR and the SVR. The GWSR offers a free ticket plus a £5 discount on a second visit. The SVR basically offers money off any visit throughout a year. To me, the SVR offer is the better deal, you don’t get a free visit unlike the GWSR but once you have used the GWSR ticket that’s almost it for a year. On the other hand you could visit the SVR 100 times & that membership becomes worth far in excess of the cost of joining, that to me is better value in the long run and a far better way to encourage secondary spend.
    I’d argue that is the better model in the long run as it brings in some income towards the cost of travel while encouraging repeat visits from which you can generate some of that secondary spend.

    I’ve actually said before that the SVR membership is such good value for offering this perk that at face value it’s almost at the detriment of share sales, which coincidentally offer free tickets, over even several years the membership is the best value option.
     
  2. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    Exactly how I see it!!!
     
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  3. 5944

    5944 Resident of Nat Pres

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    It's definitely a balancing act for the railways, trying to work out what's best for them. But from a member of the public's point of view, nothing comes close to the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland for value for money. For an adult, FR Society is £37 a year, WHR Society is £50. Both offer 10 free return tickets plus 50% discount on the other line, and FR members gets 50% off at the Talyllyn as well. A full line return on FR is £46 and WHR is £66! There can't be many lines where the membership is far less than the cost of an actual ticket.
     
  4. lostlogin

    lostlogin Member

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    It is horses for courses and there is no one size suits all policy. If you live locally then the SVR policy may be preferable but if you are a supporter who lives a distance away and can only do an annual visit they might prefer the GWSR policy. Also as you say , on the SVR if you are going to travel frequently it probably would be better to get an annual pass. You are probably looking at 6 or 7 trips as the break even point allowing for what fare you pay and the discount you get on food etc.

    It is obviously financially better for an organisation if somebody pays £30 or so for a "travel card" and buys lots of tickets at 50% rather than has one free pass. It is even better if they pay 75% or 95% that is basic economics. The question is whether many are actually doing that and whether it is incentivising people to join. Free or discounted travel are meant to be a perk of membership not the reason for membership.

    As I said it is horses for courses and what people prefer or whether it will incentivise whether somebody loins will depend on a range of factors, how locally you live, how frequently you visit, how strong a supporter of a line you are, how much disposal income you have. Many on here being strong supporters of a particular railway would probably still be members of a railway without any perks as you want to support a particular railway or group. Others who are not enthusiasts and only have a passing interest may be the complete opposite. My starting point would be that I am in favour of generous travel perks as most people are restricted to how many times they will travel full fare or pay £15 a ticket a year (if you are travelling with a spouse or a family member then costs can quickly rise), generally travel perks are not abused, you get the additional secondary spend on subsequent travel which you would otherwise not get, it encourages more casual supporters who may then go on to volunteer or donate. Maybe railways need to revisit the model and offer different classes of membership with different travel perks at different rates. Those railways who sell free annual travel passes against discounted travel for members are effectively doing that all ready except they may not send out quarterly magazines etc.
     
  5. Chris86

    Chris86 Well-Known Member

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    We were members of a railway and did use our membership travel privilege to travel usually twice a year for both of us- it made what was probably only going to be a once a year visit a twice a year, but with additional secondary spend in the cafes and the like.

    Unfortunately one of the guards one visit who made very pointed references to the society members being “a bunch of freeloaders” and how they “should actually bother to contribute something” within our earshot (and other people, a couple of whom also turned out to be members)

    We have visited less since, and have allowed our membership to lapse- there are a number of reasons why but this being one.

    It is a shame, the railway in question used to have a real family, welcoming feel but our last couple of visits in particular the value of the offering has very much diminished, particularly the catering side which has both increased in price and dropped in quality means we now ride on the railway but eat elsewhere if we visit.

    Chris
     
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  6. Fireline

    Fireline Well-Known Member

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    Can I just say that I've experienced the exact opposite? I went to a railway, admittedly on a gala day, as a paying passenger. However, the welcome I got everywhere, both from the staff I got talking to, and staff that were too busy for a chat, made me realise just how good an organisation it is, and I've since joined as a member. I am pleased to see how things are going, albeit from afar, and I even got around to voting for candidates for the board, something I often don't do at the line I'm involved in!
     
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  7. Dead Sheep

    Dead Sheep Member

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    This story rather resembles the shambolic attitude of the past SVR administration to its 'freeloading' shareholders. Fortunately, things have moved on but the whole debacle damaged the SVR's reputation.
     
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  8. Chris86

    Chris86 Well-Known Member

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    Just to be clear, our experience was not at the SVR (a long way from it in fact) just to illustrate how attitudes towards people using member privileges is sometimes seen.
     
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  9. MellishR

    MellishR Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    If those figures are correct, why would anyone ever buy a ticket?
     
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  10. Dead Sheep

    Dead Sheep Member

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  11. Lineisclear

    Lineisclear Member

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    It may not be as illogical as it appears. The Holy Grail can be marketing data in the form of the purchaser's personal details. Membership provides such valuable information with the option to use those contact details to encourage further involvement and support. Unless the purchase of a ticket also involves a Gift Aid transaction, where similar valuable customer data can be established, the benefit from a ticket sale is just the ticket price. If a railway can use personal data to its financial advatange a discount financial incentive to provide it may make eminent sense.
     
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  12. LittleRedTrain

    LittleRedTrain Member

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    There is also a lead time of a couple of weeks for memberships to be processed.
    This means you can't decide to travel on the day, walk up to the station, buy a membership and use the free travel straight away.

    I've also never seen them heavily promote FR/WHR society memberships on the railway or its main website, so I presume it's not well known amongst 'non-enthusiasts' that it's a cheaper way of travelling.
     
  13. MellishR

    MellishR Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    That may be why the pricing suits the railway but it does not explain why a customer would buy a one-day ticket at a higher price than a year's membership.
    However
    That seems a good explanation. Anyway I know which I should do if/when I plan another visit to Eryri.
     
  14. 5944

    5944 Resident of Nat Pres

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    It's sort of hidden in plain sight - the links to FRSoc and WHRSoc are at the very bottom of every page on the website. It's not in the drop down menu at the top, which is where most people would look for it.
     
  15. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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