HAIL: Fail? Comment Count

Brian August 24th, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Student Section[1]

the problem

Michigan's best-in-class loyalty program has a painfully assembled acronym, which is never a good sign. The details:

The new program will award a student two loyalty points for each non-revenue sporting event they attend. Students attending revenue sports, like football, won't get two loyalty points unless they're early to games.

"In order to get full two points [at revenue sporting events] you have to at least check-in 20 minutes before game time," …

The HAIL rewards scale:

  • 12 points: A Michigan shirt worth $10.
  • 25 points: $5 'blue bucks' deposited directly in students' U-M account.
  • 50 points: Adidas shirt and bag
  • 80 points: Students get $100 in a Flagstar Bank checking account. They also get a Victors Club priority point, which can be use for priority standing when obtaining football or basketball tickets.
  • 100 points: Students receive an invitation to a private athletic department event and get entered to win one of three grand prizes. One grand prize includes season tickets to football, basketball and hockey games for one student. Another grand prize is a $2,000 cash award and another is a two roundtrip airline tickets.
  • The highest point earner will receive recognition during a 2013 home football game.

The article leads off with this justification of the loyalty program…

Wolverine fans, remember Rocket Man? Or the card trick at Michigan Stadium last year?

If you do, you probably remember that Rocket Man was flying toward a near-empty student section and the northwest section of the stadium was sparsely populated during the card trick.

Those pre-gaming students aren't exactly reliable at showing up on time.

…that everyone associated with the program except the missing students is on-board with. But then it says "that's probably about to change." I'm not sure the proposed rewards are sufficient for that statement to be made, but CEO's New Clothes and all that.


the proposed solution: free pencil sharpeners

For students who only attend football games—the vast majority since there are approximately 10x more football season ticket holders than basketball or hockey—there are two groups the loyalty program divides you into:

  • 20 minutes early for every game: free shirt
  • Late for at least one game: no free shirt

Instead of using ticket scans they're making you check in with an app or register at a booth, dropping some number of free shirt people into the no free shirt group because they can't be bothered.

Q: If you were a drunken, 20-minutes-late stumbler last year, is the prospect of not getting yet another yellow shirt going to turn you into R. Lee Ermey?

A: I am so wasted.

The other bits might help flesh out the sparse end of the Yost student section, but to get to the first actual prize (100 bucks, Victors club point) on the list you need to attend 40 events. If you're going to revenue games you have this available:

  • Six football games
  • 21 hockey games
  • 17 basketball games (based on last year's schedule)

Getting to football 20 minutes early is right and just and gets you in to see the band. Getting to hockey or basketball 20 minutes early allows you to hear Nickelback at loud volumes. How many kids are…

  • going to be season ticket holders to all three sports AND devote over eight hours of their time to sitting in the stands before revenue sports other than football
  • OR be season ticket holders in two sports and attend thirteen to sixteen non-revenue events
  • AND remember to check in every time
  • AND not be Lloyd Brady or in the vicinity of Lloyd Brady, i.e., the exact kind of people you do not need to reach?

I'm guessing the number there is exactly zero.

A student loyalty program should  be based on ticket scans and determine priority for next year's seating and and bowl/NCAA lotteries plus involve a number of Victors Club points worthwhile enough to pursue. Those who can't show up on time at all should not get tickets that could go to better-paying and plain better fans. The above plan is a nice bonus for kids who are already fanatics but completely fails to address the major issue.

PROTIP for student mgoblog readers: location spoofer. Wave to me from the field, plz.



August 24th, 2012 at 12:59 PM ^

I agree 100%. My idea of a good system would be one that is

A) Sport specific (i.e. if I'm a football fan, women's volleyball attendence doesn't matter to me)

B) Directly affecting on the next year's tickets. This is a reward literally everyone who goes to football games is concerned about. 

So why not just scan tickets of football fans as they enter, and give out the next year's tickets based on attendence? If you're going to football games in the first place it's a reward that you will care about, it's easily executable, and it rewards the bigger fans. Instead, we'll have the same amount of people showing up late, but some people will also go to a women's basketball game and do homework. It just seemed like such a simple problem to adress...


August 24th, 2012 at 2:16 PM ^

My dad did this for many years. He kept all his ticket stubs. The plan was to do a wall mural in the basement, but he never got around to it. What I remember most is how mad he would get at the ticket takers who would rip the ticket in half, instead of just tearing off the stub. He'd even pre-tear the stub 2/3 of the way to make it real easy for the ticket takers.


August 24th, 2012 at 1:00 PM ^

How many MBA's did it take to come up with this incentive system?  Very few people will be incentivized to change their behavior (as Brian noted) -- it's like an Espresso Royale loyalty stamp card that needs 40 stamps to get a free coffee refill.


August 24th, 2012 at 5:43 PM ^

This system annoys me. I never came to games late, but I don't have the time during the week to go to another event. Grades or good tix which matters more? Grades especially at the graduate level. I loved being the old dude in the stands, but I hated a lot of my fellow grad students who didn't care that much about the team and rolled in after kickoff. Why do spartans who go to law school at UofM deserve front row tix? it happens alot for all the grad programs. Those spots should go to seniors or at least people who are true fans. also why do I as a super grad/undergrad get to sit in the front row for 6 yrs? I'm not complaining but I had my time of glory and someone else should get a turn. 


August 25th, 2012 at 9:59 AM ^

  Just because we MBA's can't use the copy machine, doesn't mean we can't assemble a good Loyalty program!


  Not that I actually know what happened, but I'm willing to blame the failure here on:

      a) internal politics -- management tweaking the good findings of said MBAs

      b) having a bunch of MBAs who aren't die hard sports fans put this together

      c) completely ignoring any research data they may have had... or skipping research all together

/ not s


But seriously... $5 woth of "blue bucks."  Wow.  That's like 3% of a season ticket.  Or 0.02% of tuition. Man, that's a big time incentive!!!  Woooooo!



South Quad Squirrel

August 24th, 2012 at 1:03 PM ^

The 100 dollars sounds neat, but in order to get it you have to put 50 bucks into a new checking account and wait two months. So that's not really worth it.


5 dollars in blue bucks/some coupons isn't really that great.

But the Climalite shirt + bag is about 40 dollars worth of merchandise, so that's pretty good.




August 24th, 2012 at 1:57 PM ^

I think you're on to something here.  All of the award levels seem like they're designed to accommodate sponsors.  The t-shirts will all have someone's logo on them; I'm sure the AD landed a cash or in-kind commitment on top of the $100 bank account deal; even the special recognition reception can be sponsored. 

This isn't about solving problems, it's about leveraging opportunities!


August 24th, 2012 at 1:06 PM ^

The only way is to have showing up related to future ticket acquisition and seating. The rewards as so small I would show up early for the games and not even bother to check in, because why waste time doing that for that stuff when you can be watching warm ups, the band, etc.

But you're wrong about  "painfully assembled acronym" - those can be really cool.


August 25th, 2012 at 5:46 AM ^

Ahhhh, Yes!  DREAD was classic RIF Radio!  I'm proud to say I was a card carrying member of DREAD and listened to Jim Johnson and Dick the Bruiser in the mornings.  Even saw Bruisers band perform once.  Good stuff!


August 24th, 2012 at 1:23 PM ^

They seem to be going pretty far to avoid the reward scheme most of us seem to want. Is recording the time scanned not currently a capability? That seems unlikely, because they do that for basketball right? (Asking because I never got basketball tickets.)

Also, overcrowded data networks before kickoff could make this a pain. People using the location spoofer could have a higher success rate.


August 24th, 2012 at 1:13 PM ^

Just tell the students that the game times are actually 11:40 a.m. or 3:10 p.m.  Oh, you don't think that will work?  I'd say it probably would have about as good a chance at success as the HAIL idea has. 


August 24th, 2012 at 1:16 PM ^

Have these people ever tried to access the internet from their phone from Michigan Stadium? Tweeting or facebook-ing is an exercise in luck and patience, at least with AT&T. Why can't they just use ticket scans like every other student section in the country? That would be harder to cheat, more accurate, more data, and more reliable.


August 24th, 2012 at 1:22 PM ^

How about -- "If you're not in your see by 10 minutes before kickoff we'll give away your seat to those in a standby queue outside the stadium."

Kinda like going standby for a flight ... maybe you get in, maybe you don't.


August 24th, 2012 at 3:47 PM ^

Is it just me, perhaps I have gone completely freaking insane here, but is DB actually trying to incentivize and reward students to get to games on time? Meanwhile, there is a waiting list for season tickets by those who will pay full price. What??? Ok, obviously students are critical and deserve to attend football games. Sooooooooo, knowing that motivation is needed we need a solution. There is a principle that people are only motivated by two things... Money and fear. While I am very much opposed to monetarily rewarding students to show up for games, one solution that involves money would be to charge students a fee at the gate if they are late. That is unlikely and tough to administrate. So, how about revoking the abort of students to renew season tickets if they are late more than once or twice (fear of loss)? It is a privilege to receive student tickets to football games, as it is for the general public. Rewarding students to be on time is preposterous, while reallocating them to another student who wants to be there on time seems like a better solution. Either that, or shrink the student section down and spread a portion of those tickets around the rest of the stadium. The tardy will be less obvious and glaring voids in the section will no longer be an issue.

Blue Durham

August 24th, 2012 at 1:29 PM ^

The highest point earner will receive recognition during a 2013 home football game.

And then is escorted out of the stadium for failing to maintain a 2.0 GPA 2 successive semesters?


August 24th, 2012 at 1:30 PM ^

if for no other reason than it shows the athletic dept. is aware that there is a problem. After this setup enivitably fails to improve the football situation, there hopefully will be revised (better) versions coming for the next few seasons.

The Wagon

August 24th, 2012 at 1:30 PM ^

The student section for basketball is already first-come, first serve. Extend it to football. If you want to show up halfway through the first quarter, enjoy the view from row 80. If you want to slap Denard high-five after he scampers for the game winning TD against State, camp out the night before or whatever.

It might not make more students come to games early, but neither will HAIL. At least you'll be guaranteed that the loudest and most interested fans will be closest to the field.


August 24th, 2012 at 1:41 PM ^

When I was a season ticket holder back in the day, (we wore an onion on our belts) the student section was basically first come first serve. Whining to someone about this being your seat or what not only worked if you were really big or really good looking and chose your target wisely. If you got there too late even getting near your seat was an impossibility.

Late arrivals were not a problem.

I think one of the issues Michigan is dealing with here is they want to reward and not punish. Many of the suggestions involve a punishment. Punishments are a PR nightmare.

Blue Durham

August 24th, 2012 at 2:40 PM ^

didn't some famous guy (Newton, Einstein, Satan) say that "God (or was that the Devil) was in the details"?

And aren't you the least bit curious as to where this onion was and what its purpose was?  I mean, was it mounted one the side of his belt, attached to his buckle, or hung to dangle somewhere?

And what purpose does this said onion serve?  Has Ann Arbor been overrun with vampires like in "The Lost Boys" but are a different type, where onion rather garlic is a key repellant?

These are important details, man.


August 24th, 2012 at 1:38 PM ^

Silly plan is silly.   Also:


"The highest point earner will receive recognition"

as either being a part time student or having a really, really easy major.


Blue Durham

August 24th, 2012 at 1:46 PM ^

All of the students (even student-athletes) there are there to improve themselves. This takes a lot of time and effort. They are not going to accomplish this by being placing their ass in the stands at a lot of games.

This really seems to be a case of where the mission of the university and the goals of the AD are at odds.