SBJ/October 23 - 29, 2006/This Weeks News

Kentucky Speedway takes the lead with customer loyalty card

Kentucky Speedway, the site for annual NASCAR Busch and Craftsman Truck series and IndyCar Series events, will announce in the coming weeks a new customer loyalty plan designed to reward fans with discounts on future ticket purchases.

Located in Sparta, Ky., between Louisville and Cincinnati, Kentucky Speedway claims it is the first track to create a Racing Rewards program specifically for its most loyal customers.

International Speedway Corp. has its own racing rewards card, but it is a Visa credit card on which anyone can earn points and redeem them for merchandise or race experiences, such as a visit to victory lane at an ISC track. Speedway Motorsports said its racetracks don’t have a customer loyalty plan, but that it is something under consideration.

Kentucky Speedway’s Racing Rewards card is not a credit card. It simply creates an identity for the buyer, who compiles points for credit-card or debit-card purchases at the racetrack.

Any season-ticket holder, PSL owner or Backstretch RV member who purchases a ticket plan in 2007 will automatically be enrolled. A fan earns four points for each dollar spent at concession and merchandise stands, as well as when purchasing extra tickets from the track’s ticket office.

Consumers earn points by turning in receipts at redemption centers throughout the racetrack.

A maximum of 4,000 points can be earned in 2007, which would be worth a $100 discount toward the purchase of a 2008 ticket plan. A total of 3,000 points is good for a $75 discount, 2,000 points earns a $50 discount and 1,000 points is worth a $25 discount.

“We’ve got something original, as far as tracks go,” said Kentucky Speedway general manager Mark Cassis, whose racetrack has filed an antitrust lawsuit against NASCAR as part of its pursuit for a Nextel Cup race.

Kentucky Speedway, which opened in 2000, is partnering with Car People Marketing Inc., a company that helps build customer loyalty programs mostly for auto and motorcycle dealerships. Car People Marketing designs and produces point-of-sale material, and tracks the points.

The racetrack found out about Car People Marketing through a local Ford dealer.

“When we came out of 2006 and saw a bit of a downward trend (in ticket sales), we thought, hey, we’ve got to start doing things differently,” Cassis said. “We’ve really gotten focused on customer relations marketing, and a key piece to that is loyalty cards and rewards programs.

“(Car People Marketing) has done a lot with dealerships, but this is the first time for a large sports venue, so we’ve spent the last month or so trying to figure out how it’s going to work.”

Creating a rewards program required more than fliers and cards. Kentucky Speedway had not accepted credit or debit cards at concession stands before, so all of those areas had to be wired. The racetrack also must construct and place several redemption stations.

Cassis didn’t specify a dollar amount, saying it’s too early to put a firm figure on it, but added, “It took considerable capital to make it work. It’s going to be worth it.”

The rewards program will be announced to season-ticket holders, PSL owners and Backstretch RV members in the coming weeks through the mail.

“Is this enough to encourage members to re-up?” Cassis asked. “If a person is on the edge, we hope this pushes them over.”

With credit- and debit-card capability at all of its points of sale, the racetrack eventually will be able to track purchasing trends.

“We’ll eventually have the capability to know when and where a person bought a program, a hot dog, what time they bought it, what event they attended,” Cassis said. “We’re on the cutting edge of a lot of data and demographic information.”

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