The Importance of Branding:
Answering the Question of Why Guests Should Visit Your Attraction

By Frank Seninsky, President/CEO, Amusement Entertainment Management and
Scott Borowsky, President and Executive Editor, Tourist Attractions & Parks

In today’s tough economy, every out-of-home business is trying to capture the consumers’ leisure entertainment dollars while the consumer is watching every penny and always looking for a deal.  So why should people come to your place as opposed to the dozens of other options?  The key answer is that your place needs to be unique and stand out in several ways.  Today we will concentrate on creating a brand or establishing uniqueness with customer service.
Customer service covers a lot of ground. It includes the basics: Type A is friendly front line staff who can multi-task and have the ability and authority to solve customer problems on the spot. All staff pitches in as a team to keep the facility clean and free from litter at all times and everyone makes sure that the wait lines for check in, food and attractions are minimized.
These strategies may be good common business sense, but there are additional things you can do to make your place unique.  Here are some examples of some recent experiences we have encountered or have heard about:

  • A restaurant who trained their staff to let their customers know (and advertised) that you can call in take-out orders and the staff will bring your order to your car when you arrive.
  • Directly calling those who fill out surveys with complaints as well as praise. The manager called a person who rated the facility low in every category.  The customer explained that he had high expectations and was so impressed to receive a call from the manager that he will now be a loyal repeat customer.
  • Waterparks and amusement parks that allow coolers to be brought in (and even have a place to store them for the guests).
  • Keeping specialty food prices low so guests have more money to spend on the other attractions and services.  Examples we just heard about are: selling bottled water for $1 each; bags of fresh carrots for $1 each; cups of fresh watermelon for $1 each.
  • Waterparks adding an optional charge to their season passes that permits a half-hour early entry (prior to regular park opening) so that these guests can get the prime seating spots.
  • To increase food-line throughput, handing out simple-to-hold menus to those on line so they will know what they want when they reach the ordering station.
  • Providing coupon redemption certificates to quickly settle any guest complaints that can be spent at the gift shop or food stations or for any attractions. This also turned into a bottom-line winner for a park that had previously charged $5 as a security deposit for a locker key and instead of returning $5 for each key returned, they give the customer coupon redemption certificates that had a value of $8 with less than 2 percent actually requesting their $5 in cash back, which of course they honored.
  • The last person that a customer interacts with at an indoor FEC is almost always one of the redemption prize center staff. This person is one of the most important staff persons and we have noticed in our travels that an overwhelming majority of FECs place their newest staff members at this position or not one of their most naturally friendly Type A people.
  • Queue lines of more than 10 people (unless it is for a major attraction) often result in those at the end of the line starting to gripe to one another about the lack of customer service, and word spreads fast.  Floor staff needs to always be watching the queue lines and quickly open up another register and give those who were waiting at the end of a line some type of coupon.
  • Don’t expect guests to read any signs. Any time you see a confused look on a guest’s face, jump in and explain what it is they need to know.
  • A cell phone battery experience I had recently.  I needed to get a new battery for my old cell phone and went to a local Verizon store.  They had my battery and sadly told me that the price was $45.  Before the shock hit me, the salesperson told me that this was a lot of money and he could get me a brand new cell phone with a fully charged new battery for FREE.  I asked him how that was possible and he told me that he had a new cell phone for $125 that he had a $75 discount coupon for and that he also had a $50 rebate card on top of that.  He then told me that it would take him five minutes to fully transfer over all of my address book and other cell phone data to the new phone. I asked him if there were any additional charges or fees and he said no, and that the new phone would just become a part of my existing Verizon plan.  What could I say but yes.  In the end I got a new phone and didn’t have to buy a new battery.  I asked him why he did this and he said that he had the new phones in inventory and it is his job to do anything he could to keep a Verizon customer from switching over to an iPhone.  I may still do that in the future, but for now, I am going to just enjoy my new phone and its long battery life.

The above list could go on and on, but we just wanted to give you some new ideas so you can easily come up with great unique customer service practices you can initiate in your facility.
In the next issue, we will cover other types of branding such as experience, theme and storyline. -

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