The Bench With the View: A Business Lesson for Parks and Recreation

By Jeff Price, MBA|Posted on August 6, 2013

I must admit I was a bit nervous. Despite having met with many customers over the years to happily describe or extol the virtues of parks programs and services, I’ve never found myself in a situation quite like this nearly two years ago.


Let me explain.


Gayle, a local resident, indicated that she was interested in honoring a deceased loved one by purchasing a memorial bench from us and having us install it in one of our parks. Many of you are familiar with these types of programs. The donor purchases a bench to honor a loved one and the community gets a great amenity at no cost to the agency. We’ve sold many of these over the years. It’s a classic win/win for everyone involved.


However, my meeting with Gayle nearly 2 years ago at American Legion Park marked the start of something different for us. I had a unique option to present to her that day.  She could purchase and have a bench installed overlooking beautiful Port Gardner Bay or purchase a bench and have us install it across the street near the playground of the same park.  


The big difference?  The bench overlooking the bay would cost her $1,000 more than the one near the playground.  We “differentiated” the price due to one major factor: the view.  It was the same style of bench mind you, but the differentiation provided us the opportunity to charge a higher rate.


What's a bench have to do with business for park and recreation agencies? Jeff Price talks business models for parks and recreation in a webinar on Aug. 22


Pricing differentiation is essentially charging a different price (for the same product) based upon some unique characteristic. In our case, in this instance, the view was the unique characteristic.


Are there other opportunities in the parks and recreation industry to engage in pricing differentiation? Absolutely!


What did Gayle decide? After I explained the two options and the pricing difference she thought it over for about 10 seconds and enthusiastically said, “Oh, I’ll definitely take this location with this wonderful view!” 


The result was a very satisfied customer, a new park amenity for the community, and the start of a significant boost in revenue to our agency.  What opportunities are available to you? Let’s brainstorm together on August 22. See you then!


About Jeff  

Jeff-Price-Business-Blog In addition to serving as Business Manager for the City of Everett Parks and Recreation, Jeff is an adjunct professor for the University of Phoenix and has written articles for Parks & Recreation as well as WRPA Magazine.