Sacramento River Cats Address Fan Concerns and Facilitate a 9% Increase in Renewals

The Customer

The Sacramento River Cats are a beloved Triple-A baseball team based in West Sacramento, California. The River Cats have some of the most consistently successful attendance and revenue numbers in minor league baseball—a trend that Jeff Savage, President of the team, endeavors to maintain.

The Vision and Challenge

The president of the Sacramento River Cats, Jeff Savage, understands that the key to preserving the success of the team lies in large part with their fans and the fan experience. That’s why it’s important to him to build a family-friendly, affordable atmosphere and a stadium that fans are happy to attend.

To understand what fans enjoy and what needs fixing, Savage launched a survey that asked open-ended questions about fan experiences vis-à-vis concessions, parking, guest service employees, security, merchandise, and any other suggestions they might have.

The response was overwhelming: thousands of comments from the River Cats’ fans. Savage knew that to properly interpret and address their needs, he would need a partner with both technical expertise in data science and solutions to real-world problems.

InterVision, with their predictive analytics solutions, was the perfect fit.

“We had just completed a survey of our fans. We had thousands of responses, and it was a challenge to review and summarize it all. It takes time to analyze, and sometimes you risk missing the big picture if you focus on the wrong issues” 

 —Jeff Savage, President of the River Cats

The Outcome

To identify key areas of improvement, the River Cats sent InterVision anonymous survey data. InterVision, using machine learning models, performed cluster/sentiment analysis on fan comments that would identify actionable insights Savage could use to enhance the fan experience.

InterVision arrived at these insights using a Six-Step Process:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Analyze existing customer data
  3. Transform data into easy to understand formats
  4. Make predictions and test outcomes
  5. Deploy in production
  6. Discover other potential opportunities

Through this process, InterVision was able to highlight key factors that drove fans to come to games, identify areas that were well-liked by fans, isolate pain points and areas of concern, and summarize key requests and suggestions for improvement.

InterVision was also asked to predict the impact of concession pricing on revenue. However, because the River Cats lacked the requisite data necessary for an accurate prediction, InterVision instead used descriptive analytics to identify revenue and profit trends. They further enriched this data with contextual insights, such as the impact of external factors (e.g. weather) on concession sales.

InterVision presented all their findings with supporting visuals and charts that made important trends, opportunities, and details quick to digest and easy to understand.

“Our side of the project was simple and seamless—[InterVision’s] word clusters brought out some areas we needed to focus on, and their analysis helped us understand how we could increase the fan experience”

—Jeff Savage, President of the River Cats

Seeing fan responses broken down in a simple, actionable way gave Savage new insights into how to augment his team’s customer service and give the River Cats’ fans an even better experience.

For example, InterVision’s analysis revealed that “parking” was one of the most mentioned issues in the survey comments. These insights have allowed Savage to proactively prepare for next year’s baseball season. He plans to improve parking and deliver an overall improved stadium that keeps fans coming back for more.

Savage knows that a heightened focus on customer satisfaction will ultimately translate to more ticket sales and higher revenue. The River Cats’ renewal rate in 2018 was 9% higher than in 2017, and Savage attributes some of that improvement to understanding the fans a little better.

“[InterVision] highlighted areas we might have missed during our review. They showed us where we should focus to improve the fan experience. Now, we can tell our fans what we’ll be addressing in the off-season—and maybe, for some of them, that will be the difference in whether or not they renew their tickets for next year”

—Jeff Savage, President of the River Cats