Last month Leeds Rugby held their second first Fans Forum meeting, with fans of both Leeds Rhinos and Leeds Carnegie coming together to voice their opinions towards the decisions made at Leeds Rugby.

The purpose of the Fans Forum is to give supporters a chance to give the club feedback and give their opinions and to form a link between the club and its loyal fan base; to find out what the fans of both codes are talking about and the ways in which the club can be improved.

The Leeds Rugby Fans Forum is made up of 17 supporters from both Leeds Rhinos and Leeds Carnegie who applied to work with the club to help shape its future for the fans. The forum will aim to meet four times a year and below are details from the second meeting.

To view more about the fans who make up the Fans Forum click here

Minutes- Fans Forum Meeting (21/11/2012)

Attendees: Sian Jones, Mark Bradley, Lucy Fahey, Rachel Barker, Ian Waterhouse, Scott Johnson, Danny Frank, Julie Brimelow, Mark Nelson, Sue Millard, Gerry Alleyn, Alistair Senior, Andrea Green, Elizabeth Greenwood, Simon Whitehead, Jane Shelmerdine, Jon Long and Mark Cotton.

Apologies from: Gary Hetherington, Rob Oates, Phil Daly, Paul Coward, Jeremy Wright and Martyn Horwell

Sian welcomed everyone back and introduced Jon Long (Leeds Metropolitan University Lecturer) who was here to discuss the forum’s thoughts on the ‘Opera Man’ to include in his research within the field.

The forum is started by talking through:

Achievements – what we have achieved since the first Fans Forum

£50 deposit for the Rhinos season ticket:-
Pay £50 now and pay the rest of the balance off in the last 2 weeks of January – We received good feedback for this not just from the forum but from the fans which it is helping spread the cost and make Christmas easier without having to start a Direct Debit

Rhinos Instalment plans :-
2014 season to potentially be launched April/May so we can operate a roll over Direct Debit.
The payment options for 2013 are listed below:

Premium Credit 11 Month agreement (October 2012 – August 2013)
Premium Credit 10 Month agreement (November 2012 – August 2013)
Premium Credit 9 Month agreement (December 2012 – August 2013)
Premium Credit 8 Month agreement (January 2013 – August 2013)
Premium Credit 7 Month agreement (February 2013 – August 2013)
Premium Credit 6 Month agreement (March 2013 – August 2013)
(Minimum value of purchases is £100)

To use the facility you must be 18 years old or over and hold a bank or building society current account which can support a Direct Debit. Parents or Guardians may make an application and enter into a credit agreement for a season ticket to be used by a person.

The Change in the Websites:-
Both sites will be compatible for mobile use, Rhinos will be getting a new website soon and Carnegie have been told about the change of colours on theirs, and maybe in the future will get a new one too.

Rhinos Cup or playoff games idea-
It was explained that the idea came from the fans forum and will involve offering 2013 season ticket members the chance to pre-book their seats or standing positions for the home rounds of the Carnegie Challenge Cup and the home rounds of the Super League play offs!
All fans needed to do is tick the box on the booking form when they returned it and if we have a home cup or play off, we will automatically process their order and add the match to their season ticket cards. Please note by ticking the box fans are confirming they will require these tickets and they will receive an email receipt upon completion of their booking when tickets go on sale. This will be the only notification they will receive.

The Carnegie Times: –
All Carnegie fans agreed it was a good read, Mark Cotton said “it was all up to date and better than the programmes.”
Carnegie Times has been placed in more locations around the local bars on match days and was done so in the local bars/pubs in the areas where the ‘on the road’ games were played.

Carnegie Cafe bar:-
All were impressed and thought it had improved dramatically, Carnegie fans suggested gold members for Rhinos will agree in the 2013 season! Many Carnegie fans are happy about the introduction of Black Sheep.
Carnegie fans were happy with the change in the menu, making it more of a Yorkshire feel. The deals with a drink included in the price however the Carnegie Cafe Bar needs to make it clear which drinks are allowed in the deal. This is not confirmed if it will be offered for the Rhinos season.
Make a coffee sign in the Carnegie Cafe Bar, people have been queuing in the wrong place, when only after a coffee and not a meal. The signage needs to be a little clearer; we have let the Carnegie Cafe Bar know.

Speaker system:-
It was brought to our attention the Carnegie fans find the quality terrible. This is in work in progress, the Marketing department are aware of the thoughts of the fans.

AV Upgrade:-
The upgrade was explained, Sian went into detail about why we are doing it and what we aim to achieve from doing it. The aim of the upgrade is to provide a better service to customers, so it will be quicker and also so the two codes will eventually be totally separate.

Social Media:-
Different social media types have been explained, not everyone understood all concepts of the social media sites but after Sian explained the different types, Leeds Rugby are going to be using, everyone saw this as a strategy to pull in other audiences, and seeing how we can drive the people in who watch us on social media sites compared to coming to the games.

Social MediaLeeds Rugby are keen to communicate and interact with their fans and as well as doing this through our official website, emails and publications we are also developing the way we use Social Media. We have found both Twitter and Facebook have been extremely popular and effective in a way for fans to contact us and players and for the clubs to inform supporters of news and events and we are now looking to expand our social media presence on other sites such as Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Ebay, Linkedin, Google+ to improve our interaction with fans. We understand that not all our fans use these social media sites and we will continue to communicate with fans in more traditional ways and if there are any other sites you feel we should have a presence on we would be happy to hear your suggestions.

Travel:-
For Carnegie on the road games, the £5 travel was brought up and fans believe it has been well received.
Rhinos- Wembley £30 was seen as a reasonable price and encouraged fans to make the trip.

The outcome of the fans forum is proving positive and we are achieving small steps as Andrea Green stated “at least they are steps”

Issues, Questions and Feedback:-
Apology From – The Leanne Flynn, Media and PR Assistant for Leeds Rugby for the Carnegie scores going on the website the wrong way round at the Jersey game, but she rectified it as soon as possible which was accepted by everyone.

A new camera is needed for interviews, etc – (flip one) Scott isn’t impressed, we have spoken to the media team and they have responded with:-
‘At present the Flip camera is cost effective and enables us the quickest time to upload video onto the website, which we do hours after the game has ended. We will always look at better alternatives to improve the video content and are looking into ways to make this compatible with IPhones, Ipads etc.’

The bush at The Kirkstall Ground needs trimming where the banners are situated as they are not visible –
The Marketing department has been informed of this.

Simon Whitehead says Rhinos should be a bit different as we are the champions and not use ISC as all clubs use the same one.
Things with this will not be changing as we are in a contract with them.

Need to order caps for Carnegie fans, as when in the North Stand the sun gets in fan’s eyes:-
This has been given to the retail department and they are on with the case.

Need a stall in the Carnegie Cafe Bar for Carnegie and Rhinos matches so there could be a bit of merchandise, programmes etc without having to go to the shop.
This will be looked into and possibly sampled.

Juniors being in the south stand without an adult, we have told the forum it will be sorted in 2014. The idea from the forum was to stop the rule on having adults responsible for under 16’s in the south stand and this will be trialled in 2014.

A reduced price for armed forces was mentioned by Mark Cotton and for troops, it was explained that we do have some offers for them in both codes but maybe we could look at some different promotions.

Can the twitter handles be on the shirts for Rhinos permanently?
We told the forum it’s not allowed according to RFL guidelines apart from on the charity jerseys but can ask the question.

Bedford Blues match venue change issue-
It was explained that is was put on the Bedford website without confirming with us, we felt as let down as the Carnegie fans.

The question was asked if we would be able to have a Question & Answer with the Melbourne team like we have done in the past.
We will put this forward to the RFL.

Rhinos would like more information what will be available now the Supporters Club is not there – where do fans drink instead?
Sian explained a possible temporary fans village at the back of the South Stand, not sure yet how it will be done and when.

Julie asked about the possibilities of booking own seats for the World Club Challenge and it was explained that due to it being an RFL game and the requirements for the match in terms of seating, it would not be possible.

Ticket swaps for the Junior away books, a question was asked is it possible to swap at the away games:-
The answer is some grounds will swap on the day of the game but we recommend swapping the voucher through the Leeds Rugby ticket office at home games, and if not able to do this then send the vouchers in with the customer number of the junior on the back and we will send the tickets out in the post, but we state please be aware there is enough time for us to get them in post.

Jane has said someone always sits in her seat, she is a gold member at Leeds Carnegie home games:-
Sian has said she will give Jane her mobile number so if it happens again, to call her, but we will also speak with the G4S stewards so they are aware of these situations which are occurring.

Carnegie Break-Out Group

Mark Bradley explained about the results of the questionnaire and what we are hoping to achieve with these. We are trying to gain a perspective into the customers experience at match days in a way we can measure what needs improving.

Trial Questions for the Carnegie Fans Survey:-

How far do you come for home games?
This was agreed it was a relevant question

Social aspect-facilities-drinks-refreshments seem to be main topics of concern when it comes to the customer experience.
Preferred day of the week to play matches – This was brought up but everyone has different opinions and we decided on leaving it as an open question.

Who, where, what and when – with the promotion of the club
This needs to be discussed as not everyone agrees the promotion is reaching far enough round Yorkshire.
Begrudging the £5 coach, fans feel this isn’t fair having to pay for more transport when they are used to coming to Headingley.

Asked the forum to think about the questions and contact lucy.fahey@leedsrugby.com know about the areas which need more thought or re-wording to help us hear the voice of the fans!

Rhinos Break-Out Group

Thoughts for first time fans:-
Headsets for new fans to tune into the hospital radio, this could be a way to help get a first time fan more included in the game and they may be able connect with the game more and become an avid follower.

First time Guide to be given out at matches
Sometimes it can be daunting for new fans, so if they have the guide it may help answer their questions they feel too intimidated to ask.
A first time fan discount for retail, it may encourage new fans.

Retail

Street Sellers in the ground, it may make it easier for people to buy merchandise if they know they do not have to queue in the shop. It may also generate more money for the retail department.
Also a stall of some kind in the Carnegie Cafe Bar, for both codes may generate profit and the fans will enjoy the ease.

Opera Man and Match day Entertainment

Forum with Jonathan Long:-
The Rhinos side of the forum feels there could be more entertainment on a match day for example using Opera Man more often.
At big games like the World Club Challenge, as it builds atmosphere.
Also putting words on the big screen so fans can sing- a-long
The feelings towards tribute acts is that most of the time they are not great
Having Battle of the bands to try and promote local talent was a good initiative
Another suggestion was made to use the ‘fanfare’ when it is building up to an exciting part of the game.

All of these thoughts will be put forward to the marketing and entertainment team.

The next meeting will be held on the 6th February 2013.

Please remember if you have any feedback about any topic at Leeds Rugby, please contact us on fansforum@leedsrugby.com