Indians Tribe Fest VIP Event handling leads to bad PR


The Cleveland Indians are coming off an incredibly successful season on the field. Television ratings were through the roof, season tickets are being bought up at outstanding rates, and optimism is high for 2017 as the AL Central division appears to be crumbling around them. Yet, the Indians annual Tribe Fest VIP event that should be a celebration of everything that is currently going well for the team ended up causing heartache for many loyal season ticket holders (STH).

Tickets to the VIP event went on sale Monday, but the communication was lacking. The messaging led all STH to believe they would have an opportunity to purchase tickets, but only 300 tickets were made available and the event sold out before certain segments of the STH base were even allowed the chance to buy them.

What is Tribe Fest?

This section is directly from the Indians own FAQ page on the event. Visit the link if you would like more information.

Tribe fans of all ages can attend this year’s main Tribe Fest event, presented by Key Bank, featuring current Tribe players, alumni, mascots and more.

  • $5 general admission tickets
  • Autograph session tickets ranging from $30 (alumni) to $35 (current roster players)
  • Family fun, including visits from Slider and hot dogs, plus much more

What is the Season Ticket Holder VIP event?
Another perk of being an Indians Season Ticket Holder is access to a smaller, more intimate VIP Tribe Fest event featuring our players on Friday, Jan. 27.

Why were people upset?

A large portion of the STH base went to log onto the website at 2 p.m. Many found issues logging in. Others attempted the phone lines which were often busy. Eventually, the news started to spread that the event was sold out before 2 p.m. which caused mass frustration.

The communication on the process of buying the VIP tickets left most believing they would have an opportunity to purchase tickets if they logged into the website at their allotted time. There was no indication on the website or in the email that the offerings would be given to different tiers of STH at different times. It was not until people received notification on the phone or through emails that such was disclosed.

Here is one such email from the Indians to a bronze-level STH:


What was the actual process followed for tickets?

The Indians sent three different emails to three different tiers of STH. Platinum and gold members were able to buy at 10 a.m. Silver members were able to buy at noon. Bronze members were able to buy at 2 p.m. There was a limited number of tickets and they were gone before the bronze members had a chance to purchase.1

Adding to the frustrations was that there was not a clear message on the login page or automated response on the phone lines to indicate that the event had sold out. So, there were fans that were continuing to attempt to access the purchase page of an event that had sold out.


Last Word

The Indians are well within their right to offer more to the STH who pay the most. Almost all businesses give the best perks to the consumers who support them financially. There’s a reason that airline upgrades go to the people who have accumulated the most points. The Tribe could have easily avoided this snafu though. There was no reason to announce the VIP event to all STH if they did not believe there would be enough supply to satisfy the demand through the tiers. Or, the team could have simply explained the process in the emails sent so that there was no surprise and provided a displayed message on those pages once the event sold out. Instead, even fans who are always positive in their messaging about the team are upset with how the day unfolded.2

  1. Base points are five times the dollar value of the STH account. Bonus points are based on years of tenure where the percentage of money spent escalates the more years a person has been a STH. []
  2. For those who do not know Anthony DiPiero, he is the most positive person you will find on social media about the Indians. For the WFNY community, he is the tigersbrowns2 of Indians twitter. []

  • Wonder how many of the STH’ers are the same ones who sold World Series tickets to Cubs fans?

  • NankirPhelge

    I give the Indians very high marks overall for fan engagement (I hate that I just used that term), but they’ve still got a few problems to fix. Last season, my friend and his wife went to one of the bobblehead give-away games. First 20,000 fans got one. They arrived before 6:30 and the bobbleheads were all gone already. So the Indians turned two happy fans into two angry fans, and for no reason.

    1. How is it possible that they were all gone before 6:30? My guess is that somebody must have been holding back thousands of them for advertisers, VIPs, media, and other swells. That still wouldn’t seem to explain it, but I don’t know what other explanations there might be.

    2. Why limit it to 20,000? Why not give everybody one and if there are leftovers, sell them in the team shops. People would buy them.

    Come on, Tribe. We know you’re way better than this.

  • mgbode

    That is a common thing (limited promotion) and for extremely popular items such as bobbleheads, there is a way to have the organization hold them back for you so that you guarantee receipt.

    It is called Promo Pass:

    Also, STH are able to utilize their reward points (see calculation above) to do the same for them. So, there were likely many, many of these popular items that were already “taken” before the gates even opened.

  • Natedawg86

    Funk that Mike! Pay an extra $5 for a promotional item that is a promotion for the game?

  • Natedawg86

    I seem to recall a few years ago where they found some old promo items in a closet in the stadium…

  • mgbode

    I wasn’t saying good or bad, I was just noting the “why” it was.

  • Hopwin

    Every game I have been to with bobbleheads as a promo fans line up 2 hours before game time, enter the park to retrieve said bobblehead and leave (scanning for readmission) and head over to 6th street, Harry Buffalo, etc with their bobble to pregame.

  • NankirPhelge

    Well, it’s bad.

  • JNeids

    1) Every bobblehead giveaway, there are “fans” who buy four $10 tickets (or whatever the cheapest are) so that they can walk in, get their four bobbleheads, take them back to their cars, and re-scan in. They then sell the bobbleheads on eBay for a profit. Nothing infuriates me more than when I’m driving to the game AFTER I GET OUT OF WORK only to see some college kid walking away from the stadium with a stack of bobbleheads and then they’re gone before I get there. There has to be a better way to regulate it. And yes, Bode, I have actually purchased the Promo Pass on a couple occasion if it’s something I really want – doesn’t mean

    2) If I’m not mistaken, it’s not the Indians who set the limit – it’s the sponsor of the BH. Now they may have to come to an agreement on the number, I don’t know, but I’m sure there is (unfortunately) a good reason they don’t over-produce.

  • mgbode

    Oh, I understand the frustrations. Try to separate the explanations from my rankle comments. I do better somedays than others.

  • JNeids

    No I understand you were just explaining, being neutral. I only “called you out” to let you know that I had gone down that path since you mentioned it in a previous comment.

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  • Tom Sawyer

    They really should have allocated a certain amount of tickets for every season ticket holder level that way everybody has an opportunity

  • Lauren Lanphear

    I am a STH and have been for 23 out of the last 24 years. I have a 20-game / Quarter Season plan, and as such, am a Bronze Level STH. I purchased tickets for and attended all home play-off games – ALDS, ALCS and World Series – I did NOT sell my tickets to Cubs fans. I was invited to and attended the last two Tribe Fest VIP events, following instructions and purchasing tickets at the designated time. There was never any mention the previous two years OR this year that VIP tickets would be offered to one tier of STH before others or that tickets might not be available by the designated time I was given to purchase them. In fact, the invitation email I receive stated, “VIP event tickets are $75 and will be available in your My Tickets account on Monday /today, Monday, Dec. 12 at 2PM.” This statement does NOT say “may be available” is says “will be available.” The invitation email further stated, “We anticipate this event selling out quickly, so please do not wait to purchase tickets.” So I logged-on right at the specified time and there was nothing stated that the VIP Event had been sold out. It just didn’t appear on My Tickets account as the emails had indicated it would. To make matters worse, in reply to an email I sent expressing my concerns and displeasure with the process, my sales rep, Jack Rindale, his reply was: “I have passed on your feedback to the appropriate departments, and we will certainly make note of your comments when planning future events.” No acknowledgement whatsoever that the Indians had mislead their STH, certainly their Bronze Level ones.