Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Santa Train is for families

Santa Train is a Northwest tradition that dates from 1969. What is it about the event that makes it so enduring? We regularly ask repeat visitors what brought them back and we use that information to help plan future events. So here they are, the top three factors (informally) cited by visitors:

1) Affordability/good value. Yes, the event is not inexpensive at a 2008 price of $15 per person. But how does that compare with a visit to a mall Santa where the photo prices begin at $45 and they won’t let you take your own pictures?

2) Non-commercial. The visit with Santa is not tied to the sale or use of a product or service, other than the museum visit itself and the inherent commercial message some argue Santa is sending. It is also not tied to a movie or trademarked character. And yes, according to the responses we have received, a lot of people do care.

3) Repeatable. Families can come back year after year and get a similar and predicable experience. That allows Santa Train to become their family tradition.

So there you have it, the three critical factors in the success of a 40 year tradition. We think there may be a consultant somewhere who would take issue with our findings, but their analysis of our success/failure would have cost thousands of dollars. And if you take issue with our findings and think we can be doing something better, our Executive Director would really like to hear from you. Please email him: director at trainmuseum dot org. (Sorry, you’ll have to type that as a real address because we can’t put a linked email in here without getting lots of solicitations for pharmaceuticals and enhancement products.)

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