|Written by Don Scott|
In the first grade, Bob Ancharski, a Hershey High School and York College graduate, wrote an essay saying he wanted to work for the Hershey Bears hockey club. Now in his seventh year as the team’s Season Ticket Sales Manager, he has what he calls his dream job.
“We’ve been first in attendance the last four years which is remarkable considering you have some major cities like Houston and Toronto in the league,” Ancharski said. “The economy hasn’t really affected us as many places because the price to see a game won’t break the bank for a family.
“It takes $96 to see a Flyers game and our top price is $22.50,” Ancharski continued. “We always view ourselves as a major league team even though we are in the minor leagues, but like any team, our life blood is the season ticket base.”
Selling and servicing those fans is Ancharski’s primary concern.
“We have 40, 22 and 12-game packages plus a 10-game flex plan that covers about 6,300 seats but not that figure for all 40 games,” Ancharski explained. “We’re fortunate that number has grown every year helped along obviously because the team has been winning. The key is to keep the ones you have happy and coming back then build on that. It’s a lot easier to keep your current clients happy then trying to sell a new one.
Ancharski pointed out that he has nothing to do with the suite and club seats in the Giant Center, but does work closely with the marketing department on the various promotions that are scheduled each year.
“I meet with the staff that sells the promotions that includes the board signs and in-game mentions, then the marketing team handles the actual execution of the promotions,” said Ancharski. “The sponsors select the item and we slot it into a game where we either need help or want to make it a special atmosphere.
“We have 20-to-25 promotions each year with the biggest, of course, being the Hersheypark pass give-away against non-conference teams,” Ancharski added. “Those are sold out as soon as the schedule comes out and then we hope it’s a real exciting game because a lot of non-hockey people come out for them.”
He continued: “I see those people as potential future season ticket holders. Watching hockey is an acquired or learned love, but once you get exposed to it, you stay with it. The goal for us is to get as many people as possible exposed, especially the younger ones. That’s where the Facebook and Twitter come into play because that’s what the younger fans use.”
“Our largest growth came after the first Calder Cup win in this building,” said Ancharski. “Last year with 15 sellouts (10,500) was something I don’t think anyone ever thought they would see, especially in a minor-league market as small as Hershey.”
When asked what the perks are for purchasing one of the season ticket plans, Ancharski responded: “That varies but I think the cost savings for the full season plan is big and for the 22 and 12-game people it means they know they have the same seat for the key games late in the season. The full plan also includes parking and the 22-game fans get in for half price, so that’s more savings.”
As to his biggest challenge, Ancharski replied: “It’s the 400-to-500 seat changes every year by season ticket holders. That means they either want to up or down grade seats or change locations. The league goal is to retain 85% of the current season ticket people which we have been successful in doing.”
Ancharski gave his views on the difference between the Hersheypark Arena and the Giant Center, other than the obvious size and amenities.
“The fans went to the old building to see the game,” he said. “Now it has become more of a fun place to be. It’s not just coming to a game it’s coming to an event with music, videos, etc. People who value winning will always be here but those looking for a night out now come here. It was a change for everyone but we’re trying to find a balance. I think our game night presentation is done tastefully and properly.”