Messaging and framing the message can be good, indifferent or bad. The news regarding NYRA's price hike for admission (and supposedly parking) has probably been the latter.
In most news reports the narrative that has held sway is that the increase has to be done to make more money (just in case VLT revenues go kaput) and that the fee increases to customers has been "modest".
A 60% increase is not modest and customers don't care if you are raising prices because someday you might not have slot machines anymore. This messaging was destined to fail badly, in my opinion. Stories like this are not only noticed, they will likely be commonplace.
I wonder what would've happened if this was planned for in a slightly different way. Say a release with this fictional messaging (the details aren't the point, just the overall tone and policy is illustrated for comparison):
PTP Racecourse Raises Admission Prices, Parking. Creates Brand new Loyalty Program, Other Improvements
"Today we are announcing a new customer loyalty program for on track patrons of PTP Racecourse as well as new investments in our live viewing experience.
We plan on installing HD televisions throughout the grandstand. In addition, our current regulars who support purses on a daily basis will not be left out. We have created a new customer loyalty program for you that will not only supply you with discounted admission, food and drink items and much more, based on your attendance, it will also allow you to accumulate points on track, to be turned into merchandise or free betting vouchers.
"Ensuring we have the revenue needed to enhance our positioning in a crowded gambling and entertainment market we regretfully have asked for an increase in admission", said PTP Racecourse head Chris Pocket. "We want to ensure our loyal fans, who have supported us over the years are taken care of, however, and we feel our new rewards program will leave them better off than they were in previous years. VLT revenue has been invested in our loyal horsemen, so we needed to create a new customer focused rewards program that is second to none in North America. We've achieved that and we think it will enhance PTP Racecourse for years to come"
People certainly would see "admission prices raised" and not be super duper happy, but I don't think the vitriol we've seen would be quite so bad. Tourists and others are not going to care if they have to pay a few dollars - they are not in the least price sensitive either - and are not going to create bad buzz. Your loyal customers are the ones who are going to do that. If the policy of raising admission prices is sound, it has to be softened with something, I think. At the very least for messaging.
As for the increase in host fees, well I think that's insanity. I don't think a press release can ever fix that mess of a decision.
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