Pocono dining

Author Shelley Alingas, University of San Francisco

Posted: April 8, 2016

Tagged: Concessions / value

After 20 years of operating with Mountain Concessions, Pocono Raceway signed a 10-year deal with Spectra Food Services & Hospitality catapulting the independently owned facility into the 21st century in regard to food operations (Muret, 2016, para. 1). In sport marketing, value created for consumers is calculated by what they give from what they get. This summation is also known as “perceived value” (McCarville & Stinson, 2014, p. 53). In the signing of Spectra, there are a few ways this affects the variables of what the customer gives—delivery variables—and what the customer gets—experience variables (McCarville & Stinson, 2014, p. 54).

 

For today’s sports fans, food offerings at sporting events play a major role in constructing the “most dominant delivery variable,” the servicescape (McCarville & Stinson, 2014, p. 55). Briefly defined, the servicescape is “the animate and inanimate stimuli to which a consumer is exposed during a service encounter” (Hightower, 2014, p. 145). Pocono Raceway President and CEO Brandon Igdalsky made a substantial decision to offer more value to his customers (even if it was at the expense of his own mother) and address the delivery variable of subpar food options by hiring a national leader in food vending that has experience with motorsports venues and fans.

 

But Igdalsky didn’t stop there. As McCarville and Stinson (2014) succinctly put it, “the key to value creation is being client centered” (p. 52). Igdalsky furthered his focus on the client by catering to their Pennsylvania values and providing an assortment of local food vendors, like Hot Dog Nation and Blue Taco (Muret, 2016, para. 6). In addition to local tastes, food trucks provide more offerings in the venue in spite of the lack of permanent concession spaces. These food provisions at the raceway enhance what is called the design, or physical environment, of a servicescape. Because design factors are more tangible, they “may have a stronger impact on the servicescape, on purchase behavior, and on the corporate brand’s potential impact” (Hightower, 2014, p. 145).

 

Another delivery variable that is addressed is the absence of a point-of-sale system, technology that is commonplace in many food businesses. With the installation of a new point-of-sale system, consumers can now conveniently use their debit and credit cards to purchase food items (Muret, 2016, para. 5). The upgrade will also enable Spectra to collect supply data that helps with inventory control, continually making sure food is stocked and ready for consumer purchase. In tandem with increased food services, the acquisition of Parametric, a company specializing in mobile ordering in suites, allows patrons to order food without the hassle of waiting in line or traveling to a concession stand which decreases the burden of another delivery variable (Muret, 2016, para. 12).

 

What is interesting about this deal with Spectra is that the raceway’s ticketing partner is the vendor’s sister company, Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagement. As Muret (2016) explains, “both are Comcast Spectacor divisions, and Xfinity, the digital media firm that holds naming rights to NASCAR’s second-tier racing series, is owned by Comcast Corp.” (para. 3). One can imagine that much of the data that Pocono Raceway will now collect about the consumer could be shared seamlessly across Spectra platforms. Food vending feedback can inform ticketing and fan engagement needs and vice versa, enhancing the experience variable factor in the perceived value calculation. If the streamline in technology proves useful, there could be future deals that deepen the raceway’s relationship with Comcast products and could further enhance the consumers’ experience variable.

 

However, such a stark upgrade to the venue could also affect the objective and reference prices (the actual cost and the cost customers think is fair) on admission and food (McCarville & Stinson, 2014, p. 58). A question unanswered by Muret (2016): Will better quality mean higher costs passed down to the consumer through ticketing and food prices?

 

References

Hightower, R. (2014). Leveraging Sport Brands with the Servicescape. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds). Leveraging Brands in Sport Business (pp. 142-156). New York, NY: Routledge.

McCarville, R., & Sinson, J. L. (2014). Creating Value as Part of Sport Marketing. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds). Leveraging Brands in Sport Business (pp. 51-65). New York, NY: Routledge.

Muret, D. (2016, March 21-27). Nearby Spectra takes checkered flag in Pocono food deal. SportsBusiness Journal, 18(47), 12.

About Shelley Alingas, University of San Francisco

Shelley currently operates on the digital marketing team for Cal Athletics and is a graduate student in Sport Management at the University of San Francisco. Graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Arts in Community Studies and pursuing an environmental advocacy career therein after, her pivot into the sport industry is a long-awaited passion that started in childhood with her love of baseball. Using her background in fan engagement, multimedia, and storytelling, Shelley plans to further her skill set and experience in the digital and sport media space. You can connect with her on Twitter (@shelley_mae) or LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/shelleymae). This article is an edited version of a paper Shelley prepared for Dr. Michael M. Goldman’s Sport Marketing class at the University of San Francisco.

IImage by Christopher Jones, "Poconos Indy 400", www.flickr.com/photos/industrial_arts/. Accessed via Creative Commons license.