Posted date : Nov 4, 2017.
I have been a snowbird member since its inception and believe it to be a great organization for the snowbird population. I would however like to make a suggestion that I’m sure has been made before, that is to charge a nominal fee to non members to access the annual meeting and entertainment and refund the total amount if the person buys a membership. This would have a dual benefit for the organization; one to increase members and two, to relieve the congestion at the civic centre. If you recall the first few meetings at the fair grounds, there were only Canadians there and then it was opened up to all seniors. Now you can’t move for the many people along for the free entertainment with no thought of becoming a member.
I am sure we all want to be good winter visitors in a foreign country, but I feel the fee charged to be a member is well worth the wonderful show presented and if people won’t pay they should not take up space making it too crowded for the members.
As stated before this suggestion has probably been looked at and was rejected ,if so would you kindly let me know why.
We have wrestled with the crowding problem many, many times and still have no perfect answers. Tampa was a much more impersonal environment, but it did seat over 10,000 people. Lakeland has been chosen by members as a much more desirable location, but the seating capacity on the main stage area is limited to under 4,000 seats, which accounts for the crowded feeling both you and I have.
Let me outline some of the reasons we have discussed for not charging an admission fee:
1: Medipac International feels we should be giving something back to CSA’s loyal members. The show originally came about when CSA asked us to try and save them money after the first CSA Annual General Meeting. By putting on Extravaganza and collecting money from sponsors, we were able to cut CSA’s AGM costs by almost 75%.
2: Given the huge crowds that line up for the opening, any attempt to collect tickets or an entrance charge would slow down the access, substantially. We want people to remember their wonderful time at Extravaganza, not the long waits, standing in the heat, on our typical Florida day.
3: We decided to do a test by charging a small fee at one of our Western Extravaganzas and we became the subject of anger and a great deal of negative publicity from our American friends. They felt we, as visitors, were treating them as second class citizens, in their own country. As our hosts in the US, they sent many “letters to the editor” and the phone-in radio programs had many calls complaining of the fee. I am sure that they still came back the following year, however, as the show was again packed.
4: Many CSA members like to attend with their American friends and even some CSA Members thought it was somewhat unfair to charge them.
5: The logistics of checking membership cards at the door and collecting the entrance fee are in themselves, a challenge. We would, at peak times, require at least 15 people to man the doors at times when our show staff are badly needed in other places.
The plusses for charging a fee, however, are very attractive. Medipac has lost money on every show, every year. The costs are close to $1.5 million to present our show line-up and a “gate fee” could help us immensely. I believe it would also increase the actual membership in CSA and this would be an excellent result. Attendance may drop somewhat, but a little extra breathing room would, I am sure, be acceptable to most people; well, perhaps not our sponsors.
We revisit this issue every year and perhaps we are simply uneasy about changing the format of some of the most successful events in North America. I would enjoy hearing your comments, given this information, and many thanks for writing us with your views. What do our readers think?