Back to the Future: Can Our Survey and License Sales Data Lead Us Forward in Hunting and Fishing?

ROOM: Atlantis, Grand Ballroom 7
The combination of constituent survey results and license sales analyses provide unique opportunities to derive insights into motivations of hunters and anglers, and their patterns of activity and participation. Agencies have been conducting hunter and angler surveys for decades, and hunting and fishing license data has been collected since the middle of the 20th century. With this wealth of data at hand, what have we learned about hunters and anglers, and what can we do to remain relevant as the conservation landscape of the future changes.

8:00AM Canceled Talk
8:20AM Afwa Multistate Conservation Grant Program Update: State, Regional and National Hunting and Fishing License Data Dashboards
  Robert Southwick
With states investing heavily in R3 efforts, no current method exists to evaluate results and participation trends at the state, regional and national levels. This presentation will share how critical hunting and fishing participation trends are being monitored through license sales dashboards and developed cooperatively between industry and state agencies. The talk will show how dashboards benefit state agencies in their R3 efforts, define dashboard goals, and share the development timeline. The results help identify if R3 programs need adjusting – and beyond R3, license data dashboards help agency managers understand the headwinds impacting agencies through the use of these visual, easily-accessible tools. Originally designed by the WAFWA, dashboards are becoming a more timely and accurate method of monitoring critical participation trends.
8:40AM Fishing and Hunting License Sales Trends in Texas 1987-2018
  John Taylor, Michael Hobson
Texas Parks and Wildlife has records of license sales covering the past 32 complete years (Fiscal years 1987-2018). We have conducted trend analyses on these data to gain insights on whether there have been changes in our customer buying behaviors in relation to changes in our product offerings over time, to help us ensure we are meeting our customer’s future needs. In 1996, we began offering a “Supercombo” license which includes all possible tags and endorsements; it has increased in popularity since its inception, and generated the most revenue of any license type. In 2005, we began offering a premium-priced All-water license (with both freshwater and saltwater endorsements) that expires one year from purchase date, as opposed to the All-water license that expires at the end of our fiscal year (August 31), and it continues to increase in popularity. We believe that the increase in popularity of these licenses has cannibalized sales from some of our other license offerings, and that this is due to changing perceptions of value among our customers regarding our license offerings.
9:00AM Investigating Hunting and Fishing License Purchase Patterns
  Jeff Kopaska
The sale of fishing and hunting licenses is a primary source of funding fisheries and wildlife conservation activities in Iowa. Continued license sales are critical to provide the funding necessary to effectively manage Iowa’s wildlife and fisheries resources. After years of simply selling fishing licenses, Iowa DNR began 2005 to assess fishing promotional efforts. These efforts were initiated in response to declining or fluctuating fishing license sales. Fishing promotional campaigns, in partnership with the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, have varied from localized efforts to statewide and from specific target populations to all anglers. An evaluation of fishing promotion efforts from 2005 to 2015 showed that lift (or increase in license sales associated with the marketing approaches) ranged from 0.1% to 4.6%. License sales patterns indicate that weather and economic conditions may strongly influence fishing license sales. All analyses showed that reactivating lapsed anglers was difficult and expensive, while angler retention activities generally gave a positive return on investment. This insight led to investigation of the influence of “success”, such as filling a deer tag, on the likelihood to retain hunters. An overview of initial findings regarding hunter purchase patterns will be presented.
9:20AM Assessing the Impacts of a Major Hurricane (Harvey) on License Sales and Revenue
  John Taylor, Michael Hobson, Alejandro Farias, Justin Halvorsen
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas August 25, 2017, and over the next few days, rainfall records were broken and severe flooding occurred in the many of the most densely-populated counties of Texas. As a result, the region experienced substantial economic disruption. All of TPWD’s top 10 vendor locations, as measured by sales volume, are in areas of the state that received at least some direct hurricane impacts. We were tasked to devise methodologies for documenting potential disruptions in license sales and revenue, assessing both the degree of impact and the spatial context of those impacts. We employed data mining and geospatial mapping techniques to our license sales data, and learned that by August 27th, our sales suffered double-digit percentage declines at the state-wide level for almost 8 weeks after landfall. Sales reductions were at their lowest point (-20%) 10 days after landfall, but steadily began to rebound after that point in time, although totals sales were still reduced by about -3% by the following May 31, 2018. Most of the declines in sales volumes were for licenses with salt water fishing endorsements, licenses with freshwater fishing endorsements experienced less severe reductions, and hunting license sales were little affected.
09:40AM Break
1:10PM Using Fishing License Data to Evaluate the Effectiveness of R3 Treatments
  Patrick Hogan
Using Fishing License Data to Evaluate the Effectiveness of R3 Treatments Data was collected from participants in six different activities (treatments) conducted by Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) as part of its efforts to recruit, retain, and reactivate license buyers. The purpose of this analysis was to determine if participants experienced a higher recruitment rate, lower churn rate, and greater rate of purchase post treatment than the general license population. In 2018, data collected from 29,000 participants in six treatments was compared to data from the Pennsylvania Automated License system (PALS) for period 2008 to 2017. Results showed that participants in active programs were generally younger than the PALS population and women participated at higher rates. Showed that participants in active and narrowly targeted treatments had higher conversion rates (recruitment or reactivation) and lower churn rates than the general PALS population. While changes cannot be entirely attributed to the treatment, these results do provide some measure of license buying purchase post-treatment.
1:30PM Using Georeferenced Residence Data from Creel Surveys to Inform R3 Efforts
  Aaron J. Bunch, Greg Binion, Jay Kapalczynski, Powell Wheeler, Eddie Herndon
Creel surveys are a key component of fisheries management. Geospatial analysis is a valuable tool for viewing broad-scale patterns and trends. We analyzed creel datasets from waterbodies of varying size and type from Texas and Virginia. Coordinates were linked to each residence zip code, and the number of anglers were enumerated for each coordinate. Waterbody-specific area of influence (AOI) maps were generated from kernel density spatial analyst tool in ArcGIS, which were used to categorize areas into high-, moderate-, and low-use zones. We estimated driving distances and created starburst plots based on locations where creels occurred relative to centroid coordinates from residence zip codes. In general, smaller systems attracted local angling communities while having smaller AOI relative to larger well-known destination fisheries where AOI was broader and anglers travelled greater distances. The AOI serves as a metric that can be compared through time and linked with fishery conditions (e.g., abundance levels). Additionally, AOI can be used to enhance R3 marketing efforts. For example, we applied AOI zones to several popular fisheries in Virginia to evaluate effectiveness of an email campaign targeting lapsed anglers. This approach should be of particular interest to the R3 community to target specific user groups.
1:50PM Evaluation of R3 Referral Reward Programs
  Rene Valdez, Eddie Herndon
Declines in hunting and fishing have led to increased recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) efforts among fish and wildlife agencies. We developed referral reward programs designed to recruit new hunters and anglers. A referral reward program helps recruitment efforts by offering a reward to current customers that successfully recruit new customers. For our programs, current anglers and hunters were offered rewards to recruit people that had never previously hunted or fished. To evaluate our programs, we surveyed participants regarding why they participated and if new license purchasers went hunting or fishing. We also used license database information to compare program participants to general hunters and anglers. We had 2,383 individuals participate in our programs. Compared to general hunters and anglers, participants were younger and included more women. Survey results indicate that among anglers, a reward that is used to fish (i.e. fishing tackle) may be a stronger incentive compared to more expensive rewards. Results also indicate that although anglers most often tried to recruit friends, anglers that referred family or significant others were most likely to fish with their new recruit. We discuss plans to improve our referral programs and long-term program evaluation plans.
2:10PM Let’s Go/Fish Local: Iowa’s Community-Based R3 Fishing Initiative
  Tyler Stubbs, Jeff Kopaska, Rebecca M. Krogman
In the summer of 2018, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) created the “Let’s Go/Fish Local” campaign to increase fishing participation in the state’s Des Moines metro area. The goal of the program was to promote fishing locations that were easily accessible for families, and encourage people to spend time outdoors in a fun and relaxing pastime. The marketing campaign leveraged the Iowa DNR’s Community Fishing Program, which is creating partnerships with towns to develop and promote local fishing ponds and retention basins. Along with promoting these opportunities to residents in local communities, the DNR targeted a group of inconsistent and lapsed anglers who resided in these communities with several marketing efforts. The Fish Local marketing campaign ran from May 20 – July 15, 2018 and targeted 11 communities in the Des Moines metro. The campaign included multiple components including but limited to emails, direct mail, and digital advertisements. These tactics resulted in a net revenue (ROI) of $24,976.16 for the department, with an additional 1,225 licenses sold. The results will be used for future planning efforts as the Iowa DNR refines and expands its marketing efforts to other urban areas.
2:30PM Customer Segmentation: Identifying Markets Where Fisheries Marketing May be Effective
  Kristopher Bodine, Paul Fleming, J. Warren Schlechte, John Taylor
Participation in angling has declined nationwide since the early 1990’s, which has significantly reduced license revenue necessary to conserve, maintain, and enhance aquatic resources. Despite concerted efforts to increase angling in Texas, per capita license sales are currently about half that observed in 1990, thus, the Texas Parks and Wildlife is exploring creative new techniques that may improve recruitment, retention, and reactivation (hereafter referred to as R3) of anglers. In 2018, we initiated a 3-phase marketing project intended to 1) identify who and where our customers are, 2) determine customer interests so we can develop targeted advertisements, and 3) execute a targeted marketing campaign. For phase one, we analyzed Texas license-sale and census data from 2013 to 2017 to identify the number of customers, potential revenue, and geographic location of all three R3 customer groups. Data were summarized and plotted in ArcGIS; we then conducted a hot-spot analysis to identify geographic areas that contain high densities of customers and areas with high revenue potential. Phase one is complete; the remaining phases are ongoing and we welcome feedback and suggestions for designing and implementing the remaining phases.
2:50PM Refreshment Break
3:20PM Customer Segmentation of Catfish Anglers Using a Survey of Stated Preferences to Guide Management Decisions and Ensure Optimal Customer Service
  J. Warren Schlechte, John Taylor, David Buckmeier
To assist the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in developing a statewide catfish management plan, Mississippi State University surveyed 1,078 freshwater catfish anglers to examine their catch-related attitudes and trip preferences using a stated choice experiment. Initial cluster analyses segmented anglers into five distinct customer groups based on their catch-related attitudes to reflect their differing motivations. We then used ESRI’s Business Analyst tool to build demographic profiles of these customer segments. These profiles were compared using various multidimensional techniques to understand which demographic groups drive best describe similarities and differences among the clusters. We use this approach to better understand the how differing motivations may arise among various groups of catfish anglers, and whether these differences may arise as a result of geography. Understanding how our customers differ will allow us to tailor regulations, as well as market, fishing opportunities in various parts of the state more effectively.
3:40PM Designing Better Hunting & Fishing License Types and Prices Using Regression-Based Modeling & Conjoint Analysis
  Robert Southwick
Knowing how much overall revenue will increase or decrease at different price points allows you to right-price each license rather than blindly applying a uniform increase across all license types. A 10% price hike will not equal 10% revenue growth, and when prices increase a few customers will stop buying, resulting in smaller revenue increases, if any. To determine just how much agency revenue will change at different price points, regression-based models can identify: 1. which licenses can or cannot withstand price hikes, 2. the net revenues expected at specific new price points, including impacts to the state’s excise tax receipts, and 3. the number of customers to be lost as a result of price hikes. There may also be new licenses that customers would pay more for. Since past license sales data cannot predict how people will react to new license offerings, conjoint survey methods are used to statistically model how potential customers will respond, identifying: 1. which new combinations of privileges or new concepts (multi-year licenses, rod licenses, etc.) would be preferred over current licenses offered, 2. how many would sell at different price points, and 3. the total revenue expected from each proposed license package.
4:00PM The Advantages and Disadvantages of Various Survey Research Methodologies
  Mark Duda
A commonly encountered question when planning a survey concerns the mode of data collection: should respondents be interviewed in person, by telephone, by mail, or through an online questionnaire? In the end, each mode presents its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. This presentation will focus on a detailed explanation of the advantages and disadvantages specific to each major mode of data collection, including telephone surveys, mail surveys, web-based/online surveys, and on-site/in-person intercept surveys. The explanation of advantages and disadvantages for each mode will consider costs, the time necessary for implementation, various sources of bias, representation and coverage of the study population, and more.
4:20PM Planning for Success – How to Design and Evaluate Marketing Efforts
  Jeff Kopaska, John Taylor
The nationwide decline in hunting and fishing license sales in recent years resulted in various efforts to reverse or stabilize these trends. However, little was known about the reasons behind the declines, and less was known about how to affect change. Initial efforts in Iowa, undertaken in the mid-2000’s, employed a “shotgun” approach to marketing. As evaluations of marketing efforts occurred, via both license sales indicators and customer surveys, a variety of pieces to this puzzle began to reveal themselves. Aggregating results over various treatments and years has allowed significant refinements in methodology and target markets. Lessons learned, and the importance of rigorous experimental design, will be discussed in this presentation.
4:40PM Panel Discussion – What Have We Learned, Where Do We Go from Here
  John Taylor, Jeff Kopaska
As data mining and other analytical methodologies applied to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) have matured, for-profit businesses have taken advantage of the information resulting from application of these technologies to foster better decision-making, enhancing the profitability of their enterprises. Natural resource agencies have adopted R3 concepts with similar goals, in hopes of enhancing the sustainability of funding for conservation efforts, but application of data mining and other analytical methodologies to R3 is not well-developed. As agencies begin to explore technologies that can encourage more data-driven decision-making in R3, they must identify gaps in information, so their technical staff can prioritize these research needs. This moderator-facilitated discussion will involve audience participation, in addition to input from a panel of invited participants made up of state agency licensing managers, agency administrators, and R3 thought-leaders, to discuss topics presented, lessons learned and ideas for future investigation, as well as identify and prioritize R3-related informational needs.

Organizers: Jeff Kopaska, John Taylor
Supported by: Fisheries Information and Technology Section

Location: Atlantis Hotel Date: October 1, 2019 Time: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm