News Flashes from Tourist Attractions & Parks Magazine

July 19, 2012 No Comments

 

Universal Orlando Resort’s All-New Retail Experience Is Inspired by Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants 

New Store Brings Bikini Bottom to Life and Features Exclusive Merchandise, Meet-and-Greet Opportunities with SpongeBob SquarePants and More

Universal Orlando Resort is introducing an all-new, one-of-a-kind retail entertainment experience that immerses guests in the underwater world of Bikini Bottom, home to Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants. The store, SpongeBob StorePants, is now open in KidZone at Universal Studios Florida. SpongeBob StorePants also features a variety of unique merchandise that can only be found at Universal Orlando, such as jellyfish jam jars, plush SpongeBob, Patrick Star and Plankton toys and customizable My Spongebob toys that allow guests to accessorize their favorite sponge with Krabby patties, hats and more. Additional items will continue to be added throughout the summer.

This all-new store gives guests the chance to step inside Bikini Bottom. Pink jellyfish from Jellyfish Fields hover above guests’ heads, leading the way to SpongeBob’s iconic pineapple house, where SpongeBob’s pet snail, Gary, resides. Animated posters come to life on the store walls, showcasing favorite characters from the show experiencing popular recreational activities found in Bikini Bottom. Lively music from the Nickelodeon TV series plays throughout the store, occasionally interrupted by SpongeBob’s foghorn alarm clock.

Guests to the SpongeBob StorePants shop, which is now open in KidZone at Universal Studios Florida, even have the opportunity to meet SpongeBob himself and purchase a photo of their experience. Shown are shoppers photographed with a plush toy.


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Kane Communications
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2012 marks the 40th anniversary of a one-of-a-kind publication, Tourist, Attractions & Parks. We have a hard-working staff that is dedicated year in and year out to publishing a high-quality magazine.
 
To commemorate this special anniversary, we are putting together a scrapbook of letters, some of which will also be published on our website. I hope you have found our magazine to be helpful to your business and would ask you to write a short congratulatory letter on your letterhead so it can be shared with our staff in the scrapbook and also with our readers online. Your letter will be greatly cherished and appreciated. Please contact me if you have any questions.
 
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Scott C. Borowsky
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Tourist Attractions & Parks magazine
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Tourist Attractions & Parks Magazine Newsletter Editorial Feature

Business Strategies: Establishing and Maintaining Positive Relationships with Vendors

Truth be told, relationships with vendors alone neither “make” nor “break” leisure entertainment facilities’ business. However, the more positive such relationships are, the better the outcome, not only for vendors in terms of increased profitability, but also for owners and operators of these facilities, who in light of their “partnership” status may at best enjoy such benefits as a higher caliber of service and preferred customer discounts and at worst, more pleasurable contact.

One of the most important strategies owners and operators of leisure entertainment venues can apply in establishing and maintaining good vendor relationships centers on being forthright about what they want from the companies with which they work and any feedback they may have. Just as the proprietors and staff of amusement parks, family entertainment centers, mini-golf courses and the like cannot read guests’ minds about matters of this type, neither can vendors themselves. An amusement park operator in the South found this out quite by accident, when, after sales of a particular specialty food item began to level off, it began to place increasingly smaller orders from the vendor without any explanation. Instead of merely accepting these smaller orders, the sales representative handling the account opted to be proactive and inquired about what might be causing the situation. As it turned out, the operator had been receiving complaints from guests that the variety of available product flavors was too limited, and many were tired of buying it. “Once this came out, they were able to make a change, we started placing bigger orders again, and our own food service profits, of course, went up,” a spokesperson said. “Our relationship with that vendor is much better now, but if we had gone to them first, we might have improved our own sales earlier. Being honest with vendors is the best relationship policy.”

Scott Drummond, founder and CEO of Party Center Software, would agree. He noted that his company fosters excellent, mutually beneficial relationships with its customers in large part because customers have been forthright in terms of offering feedback. Several modules of Party Center Software’s family entertainment center management software, including a daycare/child care management module and an advanced reports module, among others, have been incorporated into the solution as a result of this open dialogue, further strengthening vendor/operator relationships. Had suggestions for the new modules not been shared by various operators and later executed, resentment among these and others may have eventually bubbled to the surface, and the same relationships may well have soured.

Keep in mind that to preserve relationships, negative feedback and reports of any problems should be conveyed directly to vendors, not to third parties, stated Paul Artt, president of Quik N’ Crispy Greaseless Fryers. Another vendor concurred, recounting an incident during which the owner of a family fun center to which his firm had sold several pieces of food service equipment was experiencing ongoing trouble with one particular unit. Instead of informing the manufacturer itself and asking the company to fix the problem or at least try to do so, the operator hastily posted a less-than-positive comment about the vendor online. When the vendor’s representative learned what had happened, he and his colleagues immediately attempted to rectify the situation, and eventually arranged for necessary repairs. The fun center operator has approached the vendor about another equipment purchase, but the relationship between the two organizations is still far from ideal.

By the same token, vendors appreciate receiving unsolicited comments from customers; it renders them much more amenable to going the extra mile to solidify relationships for the long term. Darrin Winick, owner of Red Zone Adventures in Timonium, Md., has sent more than one message of this type to the vendors from which he purchases. Laudatory messages need not be overly effusive, and vendors do not object if the content of the messages indicates that their offerings are not entirely perfect.

Moreover, relationships between vendors and owners and operators of leisure entertainment facilities can be far better, and more productive, if the latter are receptive to ideas posed by the former. Moving ahead with such suggestions creates a mutual sense of trust, and when vendors believe operators trust them, vendor-operator “partnerships” become stronger across the board, sources said.

Often in the midst of the miniature golf construction process, when facilities have already begun to take form, representatives of Harris Miniature Golf will approach operators to discuss suggestions for changes that might result in improvements over the original plans for their facilities, noted Pat Boylan, vice president. One miniature golf operator who had planned to build an 18-hole mini-golf course opted for 36 holes of mini-golf at Harris’ suggestion. The facility is very successful, and the operator plans future renovations with Harris moving forward.

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