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NEW TICKETING SYSTEM FOR RCS
14 NEW RIDES IN 07
By Matt Cook
Phoenix, AZ - Ray Cammack Shows is the latest carnival to move to a new ticketless system for its midway. Adapted from a system used by Ron Burback's Funtastic Shows, RCS licensed some of the code and adapted it for their own needs.
Bill Lowry, RCS's Information Technology Director said the approximate cost of the system was $2 million. "We began tinkering with the system four years ago", said Lowry, "our biggest challenge was being able to implement the system at the large events we play".
While paper tickets are available as a backup, the show did not have to use them even once during the 2007 season.
RCS estimated that the show was losing $3,000 to $4,000 a day through reselling of tickets and other schemes used by customers to get around the ticketing system. Employee theft can also be a concern. With the new system, there is almost no possibility of fraud or loss because transactions are handled by computer or automated vending machine.
Guests purchase a card from the ticket booth with the desired amount of tickets on the card. Each ride is equipped with a wireless hand-held scanner that is used to swipe the card, transmit the data back to the server on the midway and remove the credit from the card.
Guests can replenish the card as the need arises. At the guest relations booth, customers can get a print out of what rides they visited and games they played, what time their card was swiped at each point of redemption, and how many credits remain on the card.
In 2007, games used either cash or the Fun Pass, however, RCS will be eliminating the cash option as early as this season
Information gathering is one of great advantages of the system. Daily reports are generated in the show office showing the amount of money taken in at the ticket box, amount redeemed from the games, rides, and gate admissions. The report can show real-time data of how much each ride grossed, how many people rode the attraction and at what times, etc.
In the next 3 years, RCS will be switching 90% of its ticket boxes over to an automated system that does not require an attendant to process the cards. Currently, each ticket box uses its own separate credit card system independent of the wireless Fun Pass network. This will also be converted so that all credit cards are gone through their own server and not through a separate gateway.
In 3-5 years, internet sales are expected to be larger than on-site sales. At the 2007 Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo, their $1.4 million dollar pre sale program increased 10-15% through internet sales. Advanced sale tickets and gate admissions can be purchased at RCSFun.com or midwaytickets.com. Each e-ticket has a barcode that is scanned at the gate and the voucher can be traded in for a Fun Pass for rides and games.
The system has been a big hit with customers. Shorter lines and availability of information some of the reasons most often cited. Lowry points to an exit survey conducted during the 2007 Orange County Fair where nearly 100% of patrons said they supported the new Fun Pass electronic ticketing system.
Lowry said the system was a great benefit for a show of RCS's size but said cost and lack of technical knowledge would prevent medium and smaller shows from being able to implement the system in the near future.
Tony Fiori, Marketing Director for RCS, said the Fun Pass system was just one of the many new changes RCS made in the past year. "We bought 14 new rides in 2007", said Fiori. The new attractions are:
Pirate's Island (Re-Themed Wisdom Raiders)
Crazy Coaster (Zamperla)
Jumping Buggy (Zamperla)
Barnyard Express (Train)
Remix II (AmTech)
Surf Shack (Owens Trailers)
Cliff Hanger (Dartron)
Traffic Jam (SBF)
Cyclone (Wisdom Tornado)
Dizzy Dragon (Sellner)
All rides on RCS are show owned with the exception of long time friends of the show Bishop's Amusements. "They are considered part of the family", said Fiori. In addition to the rides, all games and concessions on the show are also owned by RCS. With the institution of the Fun Pass system, the ability to keep all concessions "in-house" became a reality. All employees are no on salary with the show.
The show carries over 300 truck loads with 60 tractors for hauling. They double back and hire out for independent tractors when necessary. Many of the loads carry the famous RCS amenities and midway enhancements that give the show its unique look.
Fiori said the show "must provide the quality, amenities and the different types of rides that their clientele demands. We believe the amenities and park-like atmosphere gives a sense of security and comfort to our guests which increases their time of stay and thus increases the gross."
10 supervisors are in charge of the rides on the show. Each supervisor is responsible for the hiring and termination of employees, maintenance of the rides they oversee, as well as set up and tear down of those rides. Drug testing of employees is mandatory before being hired and is conducted randomly every 30 days or less. Testing extends from the CEO on down to all employees.
Like many carnivals, RCS has utilized visa programs to hire foreign workers. The show employs approximately 600-700 Hispanic and South African workers.
Ranked as the number 2 carnival on MCW's list of carnivals playing the Top 50 fairs, RCS has many major fairs on its route. They play only large events that can handle the type of equipment and amenities they carry.
"We are fortunate to play large enough fairs that have long runs that permit us to move large multi trailer rides. You have to have a good market to warrant major spectacular rides. Other shows have different niches in the market that works for them and this is what works best for us", said Fiori.
Fiori said RCS was very happy with the 12 events currently on their route and the show was not looking to make any major changes.
Super Bowl 2007
One new event for 2007 was the Super Bowl in Arizona where RCS presented their "La Grande Wheel" for the NFL Experience. The engagement was booked through Party Planners West, Inc.
The La Grande Wheel moves on 18 trailers, takes 7 days to set up and 5 days to tear down. When purchased, along with equipment needed to move the ride, the final cost was close to $3 million dollars.
The wheel runs on two separate power plants; one for the drive system, and one for the lighting. 32 tubs rides 17000 people per hour. The station is capable of loading 6 tubs per stop.
RCS has been extremely happy with the ride since it was purchased. The wheel is generally the top ride at all events.
With all the show has accomplished over the years, we asked Fiori if there were still areas for improvement and where he thought RCS was headed in the future. "I believe advance internet sales will be a big part of our industry in the future including gate and ride tickets", said Fiori. Citing the $300,000+ in gate and ride advance sales for the Arizona State Fair this fall, he said this area had enormous potential.
Midway amenities and more merchandising for the game industry were other areas the show is constantly seeking to improve. Fiori said that the customers are expecting more and it would be the carnival's job to provide them with an outstanding midway experience filled with the types of amenities and quality standards they expect from any other entertainment experience.