SMOKE & CINDERS (3RD QUARTER 2017) – RIDING IN LUXURY
The Magic of Train Travel: How Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) Enhances Visitor Experience and Revenue
In the latest issue of Smoke and Cinders, we discussed how special events serve to boost TVRM’s income, despite making up a relatively small portion of our operating schedule. Now, let’s turn our focus to the core of our operations: off-site excursions in North Georgia and on the Hiwassee. These immersive train adventures present some unique challenges and opportunities.
These off-site journeys are characterized by a constraint on the number of cars that can be managed, raising an intriguing question: How does TVRM maximize the revenue from these excursions?
The secret to TVRM’s successful revenue generation lies in the seamless blend of operational logistics, immersive experience, and luxury offerings. TVRM offers premium seating in one of its five specialty cars: the observation cars, the Pullman sleeper Clover Colony, and the office car 98, The Eden Isle.
These premium offerings cater to the desires of our train travel enthusiasts, with specialized seating, complimentary snacks, special attendants, and catered meals. Even though the premium cars seat fewer passengers than a standard coach, the higher ticket price and consistent sell-outs boost revenue to the same level or even higher.
Reflecting on the popularity and limited availability of these premium experiences, TVRM is exploring the rehabilitation of the former Chesapeake and Ohio 30-seat Parlor Car Torch Lake. This move, alongside efforts to expand lounge car capacity, indicates a keen drive to innovate and adapt to meet our customer demands.
Moreover, the continuous support from our generous contributors aids in the progress of TVRM, particularly in extraordinary projects such as steam engine restorations and unique events like the North Pole Limited. In light of the importance of these donations, our year-end appeal for support will be launched soon, as we aim to keep history alive and rolling into the future.
At TVRM, we take pride in offering enriching experiences for younger generations too. For instance, Rail Camp, coordinated by Trevor Lanier, offers an intense yet exhilarating journey into the world of trains. The camp, spanning over four weeks, gives more than 70 kids aged 7-17 a hands-on experience of exploring repair shops, riding turntables, arranging model cars, and even photographing passing trains.
The complexity of running such an operation is vast. However, our commitment to enriching the experience of our visitors drives us to continually seek ways to improve. Rail Camp has expanded significantly since its first year and continues to be an engaging educational platform that fosters a love for trains in the younger generation.
Furthermore, TVRM has launched a fundraising effort to restore the Car #98 Eden Isle. This ambitious project, aimed at restoring this historic 100-year-old Pullman private office car, involves an estimated cost of $255,000. We believe that this significant financial undertaking is a worthwhile investment to preserve this unique piece of our railroad history.
In conclusion, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum’s approach to enhancing visitor experience and revenue is a multi-faceted one, balancing the operational limitations of train excursions with innovative offerings and restoration projects. With continuous support from our contributors and a vision to keep history alive, we are optimistic about rolling ahead into a prosperous future.