We’re thankful to all Hemel fans who participated in our recent survey about our organised away travel. We’ve already organised subsidised travel to six of these seasons seven away games so far and TSC members have easily had good value for their £10 annual membership fees with £5 discount (compared to non-member prices) on most of these coaches. Whilst our organised travel is proving popular, we are keen to attract more Hemel fans to follow the team on the road, which was the initial objective of the TSC when it was set up six years ago. Here is a summary of the responses we received, followed by our own thoughts on how we can use this information to improve our service to the Tudor Army:
- 23% of respondents travel regularly, 23% never, the remaining people were split between travelling with the TSC often and sometimes. This was a positive response, indicating that three quarters of travelling fans have at some point travelled with the TSC.
- A very small percentage stated that they previously travelled with the TSC but were put off from travelling again, with some of the feedback stating that the coaches leave Hemel too early and have, in the past, stayed late while fans remained in the away bar despite being advertised as leaving at full time. There were some comments that fans treating the away days as a drinking jolly day out (and some associated boisterous behaviour) has put fans off travelling again.
- In contrast, when asked to state the positives of travelling with the TSC, the most popular answer by far was the cheap fees we charge, followed by the convenience of organised travel and ease of booking. There were many fans that indicated the early departures from Hemel in order to take in some of the local pubs etc was the reason they travelled. In general, comments about the atmosphere and camaraderie on our organised travel was very positive.
- When asked what we can do to encourage more fans to travel, the replies were mainly split between leaving earlier and leaving later… many fans also suggested lowering the prices. Some fans suggested we do more at Vauxhall Road (announcements, posters, etc) to promote our organised travel.
- The feedback about where fans heard about our travel indicated Twitter and “word of mouth” were most popular, with others finding out via Facebook and the HemelFans.co.uk website. Word of mouth suggests that we can maybe do more to publicise our trips, like the aforementioned suggestions about getting the message out at Vauxhall Road.
- When asked to rate ease of booking, value for money and comfort of our coaches, ease of booking and value rated very high, while comfort was quite neutral – some previous comments made reference to there not being toilets on all our coaches.
The feedback was very useful and we’re grateful for your time in taking the survey. If you didn’t participate but still want to offer feedback or suggestions, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org. In regards to this feedback, firstly the departure times of the coaches have been contentious for a few seasons and this has been discussed during a few of our AGM’s. When we first started to organise away travel, the team was enjoying a fantastic run of form in the Southern Premier League on route to the championship title, filling coaches was easy and even multiple coaches on some occasions. Our first season in the National League and the FA Cup run that year meant that the success of our organised travel continued and grew. Back then, coaches left Hemel with an aim to arrive at the away ground with enough time to have allowed for traffic etc and enjoy some refreshments there, then it would depart immediately at full time to head back to Hemel. As the team lost momentum, so did the popularity of the away travel however through perseverance we gained a dedicated set of fans who enjoyed our away days and over time the travel has evolved in to more of a “jolly”. Our current regular travellers prefer to arrive at away destinations early to take in some local pubs etc. We appreciate that this isn’t for everyone, but if we were to run coaches only for fans who want to leave later and not visit away towns/cities ahead of the game, we simply wouldn’t fill enough seats to make it worthwhile. A few years ago we ran multiple coaches to Nuneaton and Sutton and fans were split depending on how noisy/quiet they wanted their journey to be, however we’re currently way off booking multiple coaches based on recent numbers. That said, the TSC is for everyone and we are keen to reach out to fans who don’t want to leave so early and we will try to provide travel with later departures as a tester to see how popular they will be – so look out for our upcoming travel, as soon as we identify an away game that this will be suitable for we’ll get the message out there.
In regards to prices and comfort of the coaches, we already charge the absolute minimum we can, bearing in mind we subsidise at least £100 (often more) of TSC funds per trip in order to keep the prices low. The fees we pay for coach hire have risen signicantly in the years we’ve been organising travel. We have run a free coach before and offered a few “pay what you want” deals, we are hopeful that we can do something similar during this season and, ideally, coincide this with a departure time that suits as many fans as possible. As for the mention of a lack of toilet on our coaches, this type of facility depends on the size of the coach we book – the smaller coaches will not have a toilet but usually with 30+ seats (and especially on longer journeys) we aim for a coach with a toilet depending on the availability of one.
We will see what we can do in regards to publicising our travel more – I’m sure Hemel FC will allow tannoy announcements and posters at our home games and maybe we can utilise the Hemel FC website too. We’ll look in to that.
Thanks again for your feedback and watch this space, hopefully we can apply some of this to future travel plans.