News Flashes from Tourist Attractions & Parks Magazine

February 26, 2013 No Comments

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New Tool Helps Decrease Employee Theft, Wait Times

Entertainment facility solutions provider CenterEdge Software (www.centeredgesoftware.com) has released a new mobile app that mimics a card reader for use in attractions access control.

The new app allows employees to scan barcodes on tickets, customer cards or wristbands to make sure customers have paid for the tickets they are holding, enhancing their experience by removing non-paying individuals from access points and decreasing wait times for attractions.

“Unfortunately, employees giving away tickets for rides and attractions or individuals gaining access to tickets they didn’t pay for are common issues that have negative impacts on amusement parks and FECs,” said Marcus Mayer, CenterEdge Software director of operations.

Loss of revenue and long lines caused by non-paying attendees impact both the business owners’ bottom line and paying customers, Mayer explained, both at the time of the infractions and long-term.

“Customers standing in long lines caused by individuals with stolen tickets aren’t going to want to return in the future and may end up talking negatively about their experience on Facebook or Twitter to hundreds of other potential customers,” he said, adding, “This can do serious damage to the attraction’s reputation, which is devastating in an industry that relies heavily on word-of-mouth referrals.”

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, three out of four employees were projected to steal from employers in 2012, with U.S. companies expected to lose between $20 and $40 billion. The FBI lists financial need, revenge, dissatisfaction with a job or coworkers and peer pressure as major reasons for employee theft.

“With a younger workforce, the amusements industry by default has a large number of workers who are exposed to multiple pressures to steal and/or give away tickets, which may not seem like a big deal to them but can kill an FEC long-term,” Mayer said.

The CenterEdge attraction access control mobile app validates a customer’s ticket, season pass, day pass, or the dollar value on a card or pass, at each attraction by scanning the ticket’s barcode. The app displays that a pass was used or shows the remaining dollar value on the pass or card. It works with turnstiles, workstations or the iPod Touch.

The app is the latest in a line of technology products from CenterEdge for owners and operators looking for a single-point solution to address the major challenges of managing a successful entertainment venue. In addition to user-friendly ticketing functionality like the mobile attractions access control app, CenterEdge provides point-of-sale and reservation tools that help build a loyal clientele as well as reporting, cash control, and time clock solutions to help keep better track of revenue and labor..

Betson Expands Sales Team With the Addition of Steven Lamoreaux

slamoreauxBetson Enterprises, a leading world-wide distributor of coin operated equipment and a division of H. Betti Industries Inc., is pleased to announce and welcome Steven Lamoreaux to the position of Outside Sales Representative, Mountain States region.

“Steve is an experienced road salesman and we are excited to have him on board,” said H. Betti VP of Sales and Business Development Jonathan Betti.  “Steve will have the full support of the Betson management team and our company resources to ensure current and future success in the market.”

His strong sales and customer service background will be a valuable asset in the development of new relationships and growth of the Betson’s customer base and sales programs in the Mountain States Region.

“I am looking forward to working with Steve, developing and growing relationships with all of the potential business customers within his territory. Steve should fit in well with our sales team and I am very excited about the potential business possibilities that lay ahead,” said Joe Ingui, National Director of Sales for Betson Enterprises.

Steven Lamoreaux can be contacted directly at 630-390-5126, or email him at slamoreaux@betson.com

Polaris Industries Donates GEM Electric Vehicles to the Minnesota Zoo

Polaris Industries Inc., a leading manufacturer of electric vehicles, recently announced that it has donated two Polaris® GEM® electric vehicles to the Minnesota Zoo, the state’s largest zoo. The donated vehicles will be used to transport guests throughout the complex and for utility and ground maintenance.

“The Minnesota Zoo is a statewide treasure and we’re happy to provide electric vehicles that fit nicely into their indoor/outdoor environment,” said Tim Blinkhorn, general manager, GEM. “These environmentally friendly vehicles will help safely transport guests and staff throughout the zoo. It’s a great day when we get to help a community asset while at the same time showcase the versatility of our GEM electric vehicles.”

The donation, valued at more than $26,000, is part of a new partnership between Polaris and the Minnesota Zoo that looks to promote environmentally conscious behavior. The GEM vehicles have an all-electric, zero emissions operation that will provide a low-cost-of-ownership for the Minnesota Zoo. The GEM vehicles’ quiet operation is ideal for the Minnesota Zoo as they will not disrupt the animals.

The Minnesota Zoo, located in Apple Valley, Minn., welcomes 1.3 million guests a year. The zoo is located on close to 500 acres and is home to more than 2,900 animals and 504 species from around the world.

Information about the complete line of Polaris products, apparel and vehicle accessories are available from authorized Polaris dealers or anytime at www.polaris.com.

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The vehicles Polaris donated to the Minnesota Zoo include a GEM e6®, a six-passenger electric vehicle that offers comfortable seating and ample storage and the GEM eL XD®, a two-passenger electric utility vehicle that offers a 70-inch-by-48-inch flat bed that can haul up to 1,100 pounds.

 

Kings Dominion’s Planet Snoopy Debuts New Rides

Kings Dominion is excited to announce the first of its eight new rides in the bigger, better Planet Snoopy –Woodstock Whirlybirds – has arrived at the Doswell theme park. Woodstock Whirlybirds will feature six, four-passenger teacups that will take families for a spin with a new Woodstock twist. Kings Dominion will unveil its bigger, better Planet Snoopy in the spring, and it will boast eight new rides and span nearly 14-acres. The remaining seven new rides are expected to arrive at the park soon.

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Special Tourist Attractions & Parks Newsletter Feature

Keeping Kids Secure At Leisure Entertainment Facilities

No matter their size, leisure entertainment facilities must go the extra mile to help keep young visitors safe and secure. If they don’t, their reputation — and perhaps, more — may be at stake. Such initiatives are paramount,” according to William Avery, founder and partner at Avery Safety Consulting, Inc.

Avery advocates establishing procedures wherein staff are assigned to look for unsupervised children and return them to the care of an adult. At bluefusion entertainment, a Marion, Ohio-based family entertainment center, staff members are trained from the outset to scout out these youngsters, stated Scott Kelly, bowling and attractions manager. Personnel learn a code to use should they see a clearly unaccompanied child anywhere in the 41,000-square-foot building or hear from a parent that his or her offspring is missing. The code is announced over the public address system, and a lockdown of the facility goes into effect until the child is found or an adult has come forward to claim him or her.

Gary Bower, owner of ABC East Lanes and ABC North Lanes in Harrisburg, Pa., as well as ABC West Lanes in Mechanicsburg, Pa., takes a similar approach.  Each location has a roving employee, who in addition to performing cleanup chores is also responsible for identifying unsupervised children and those who might be engaging in such potentially dangerous practices as rolling balls in the wrong direction and stepping into the lanes. These employees know that “as soon as they see a kid who is wandering around or lost, to stop what they are doing and ask the child who he or she came in with and then bring him or her back to the right adult(s),” Bower explained. If the child balks, which sometimes occurs, the public address system is harnessed to describe him or her and instruct parents to come immediately to the front to rectify the situation.

Meanwhile, Rule (3) in Pickerington, Ohio, posts personnel at the door and broadcasts an announcement as soon as someone on staff observes an unaccompanied child or learns that one is missing from his or her group. In the latter type of situation, the announcement uses the child’s first name and conveys a message like, “Susie, your mother is looking for you. Please go to the main counter now.”

Going one step further, procedures enforced at Kennywood, in West Miflin, Pa., call for offering parents and children entering the park the option of being issued bracelets with the former’s cell phone number printed on them. Upon spotting a lost or unsupervised child with a bracelet on his or her wrist, a security officer calls the cell number and accompanies the child to a designated site to meet his or her parent. When a report of a lost child is issued, additional security officers are dispatched to the gates. Children are barred from entering and exiting the gates unattended, and any youngster whose description matches that of a lost child is stopped.

Some amusement parks also leverage technology to improve the security of their young guests.  For the 2012 season, Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, Pa., introduced a radio-frequency identification (RFID) security solution called KidSpotter (from the company of the same name). Smartphone-wielding parents can rent a KidSpotter device for their children to wear at the park. A unique PIN code is texted to a five-digit number; confirming this code activates the unit. An integrated network of satellite and wireless technologies then tracks the device from the moment of activation until it is returned.  Should parent and child become separated, the parent texts the word “help” to the five-digit number. The technology immediately identifies the location of the child and the device, simultaneously reporting the information to the parent and to park security.

But while following stringent procedures is very effective in keeping kids secure at all types of leisure entertainment entities, it’s a wise idea to up the ante by ensuring that facilities’ physical plant is well designed. At Imagine That!! A New Jersey Children’s Museum in Florham Park, N.J., a locked half-gate cut into the wall that separates the admissions counter from the exhibits and can only be opened by a staff member serves two purposes: It makes it impossible for youngsters who become separated from their parents to wander out of the facility, and prevents entry by potentially suspicious “strangers” (e.g. individuals who are clearly unaccompanied by a child or are clearly not picking up a child at a party).

In another vein, at Pinz Kalamazoo in Kalamazoo, Mich., the arcade has been relocated to the less-visible center of the concourse. This, said Manager Matt McLellan, affords parents an unobstructed view of their children from whichever lane(s) they may be using. In Altoona, Pa., Lakemont Park has set up a lost children’s office to which any child reported missing is immediately taken.

 

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