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. []