The likes of Crosby, Westlake and Wickenheiser aren’t the only ones with VIP access to Hockey Canada.
Club Hockey Canada, introduced just in time for the 2012-13 season, is giving players, parents, coaches and officials across the country access to discounts, contests, prizes, rewards and behind the scenes insight into Team Canada – all completely exclusive to its members.
“As an organization, Hockey Canada wanted to figure out how we can connect better and offer more value to our members,” Dean McIntosh, director of marketing services for Hockey Canada, said of what sparked the idea for a club card. “So really, it was a board-driven directive to ensure that kids feel that they’re a part of the same team as Hayley Wickenheiser and Sidney Crosby and Greg Westlake.”
Participants of all ages registered through Hockey Canada will soon be receiving their snazzy looking cards in mailboxes, including 450,000 households from coast-to-coast. But while Club Hockey Canada, developed in partnership with Exchange Solutions, may look a lot like other loyalty programs, it’s less about generating revenue, and more about recruiting and retaining players in the sport we all love.
“This is a free service that Hockey Canada is providing to our membership,” McIntosh said, emphasizing the main motivation behind Club Hockey Canada is to “reduce the cost of the game for kids.”
That includes working with Hockey Canada sponsors to offer gift cards to members for everything from gas to golf clubs, which if purchased online through the club, will offer a credit back in the form of Puck Bucks that go toward hockey registration costs for the following season. Members will also be able to download coupons and buy cool Hockey Canada merchandise, only accessible by logging into their unique account on the club website.
“If I register my children for $600 or $700 dollars apiece per year, if I can reduce that $600 dollars to $300 or $400, does it make my decision easier to register them the next year? I think it does,” McIntosh said of how Club Hockey Canada can help savings add up for families. “Any ways that we can find to reduce the costs for those involved will keep them in the game longer.”
The club website also includes a section called The Hockey Zone, which features interactive games
for children, exclusive videos from Team Canada, the latest news from Hockey Canada and awesome contest opportunities that will keep players and parents coming back for more.
But first this season’s Club Hockey Canada members have to activate their cards online, and in order to encourage them to do exactly that, McIntosh said there will be daily contests from November 1 through the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Junior Championship. Prizes range from Team Canada jerseys to the Ultimate Team Canada experience – a trip to the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Men’s World Championship in Finland and Sweden.
“The real call to action is get your card, go online and activate,” McIntosh said, adding Hockey Canada’s branches and various minor hockey associations are on board to help promote the brand new club.
Working through Hockey Canada initiatives such as Dreams Come True, and with outside groups such as RBC Play Hockey and other corporate partners, will also help get the word out about Club Hockey Canada – and the benefits of getting into the great Canadian game.
“One of the challenges hockey has is that it has relied for a lot of years on traditional ways of recruiting – it’s a sign in the community, or it’s a notice in the local newspaper,” McIntosh explained. “We need to change the way we’re thinking.”
Not only will Club Hockey Canada make getting into the game more affordable for families, he said, but it will also make it more accessible for new Canadians and others who may not know how to get involved. “This is a great step certainly on the retention side of it, but it will also play to the recruitment strategy.”
Ultimately, Club Hockey Canada is about Hockey Canada helping out the players, coaches, officials, volunteers and fans who support the sport, and making all of them feel like a Team Canada member. “We get an opportunity to speak to our members, we get an opportunity to provide them with value, we get an opportunity to keep kids in the game longer and we get opportunity to tell more people about who we are.”