Tickets are more than an admission pass into an attraction, park or family entertainment center. For owners and operations managers, tickets not only keep track of their guests, but they also help to maintain security and keep attractions running on schedule.
Justin Struttmann is operations manager at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Mo., which includes The Gateway Arch. The 630-foot structure, known as the Gateway to the West, is the tallest man-made monument in the United States.
“More than 900,000 people go to the top of the arch each year, and between two and three million guests visit the park annually,” said Struttmann. “We use ticketing as a way to move the volume of people.”
Visitors can buy their tickets in advance or at the park. Guests who want to take the tram to the top of the arch get a specific time on their ticket for their tram’s departure. There are two trams, each of which carries 40 guests that transport visitors to the top of the arch and the observation tower.
“The tickets help us to keep everyone moving. Every 10 minutes there is a tram. It takes four minutes to go up to the top of the arch and three minutes to come down and about 2.5 minutes for loading and unloading. Once people are up at the top, they can stay up there as long as they want,” Struttmann noted. “It is just very important that we get people up and down in a timely and efficient manner, and the tickets make that happen.”
Tickets also differ depending on what attractions people want to see in the park. Along with the Gateway Arch tours, there are riverboat cruises and movies about the history and culture of the region. Each of these attractions charges an admission fee. There are single tickets and combination tickets depending on a guest’s interests.
“It costs $10 for adults and $5 for children for the tram to the top of the arch. Each ticket also includes a $3 fee that goes to the National Parks service,” Struttmann said. “There are separate combination tickets as well as individual attraction tickets. There is so much to do here, and we have to keep track between the paid attractions and the free attractions such as the Museum of Westward Expansion and the old Courthouse. ”
The Memorial uses the services of Resort Technology Partners (RTP) of Denver, Colo., to help them with the attraction ticket needs. Resort Technology offers clients fully integrated ticketing and customized POS software system that adapts to needs at parks, attractions and theme parks.
At Atlantis Paradise Island Resorts in the Bahamas, which is also a customer of RTP, Senior Director of the Marine and Water Park, Don Strickler, uses wristbands to help monitor both resort guests and non-resort guests who come to Aqua Adventures or participate in the Dolphin Swim. Each attraction or combination of attractions is represented by a different color wristband.
“When we expanded our waterpark facilities, we opened them up so non-resort guests could come too. The waterpark is free to our guests, so they get one color wristband while non-guests who pay an admission fee get a different color,” Strickler explained. “We are looking to implement print, on-demand wristbands as a way to keep better track of guests. We did have a problem with scalpers where they would buy the wristbands ahead of time and then scalp them, so are we are looking to the on-demand wristbands to help us tighten security. Another advantage of on-demand bands is that they eliminate the need for us to inventory wristbands. The least number of wristbands in inventory means more control and that leads to fewer security problems. ”
Trails Family Entertainment Center operates the Enchanted Castle Family Entertainment Complex in Lombard, Ill., and two Haunted Trails Family Fun Parks in Joliet and in Burbank, Ill. The 6,000-square-foot castle is an indoor facility while the 20,000-square-foot Joliet and the 15,000-square-foot Burbank parks are both indoor and outdoor facilities.
“We use both paper tickets and wristbands for our guests,” said Elena Ruane, vice president of sales. “For birthday parties, corporate events and other special packages we use wristbands, especially when the package included unlimited rides. For those whose event is contained within a certain time period, the tickets or wristbands have the time stamped on them.”
While the tickets and wristbands have worked well for Trails Family Entertainment, the company is looking into a wristband with tear-off strips for large groups. When a guest gets a drink or food, the tear off is given to the park and food and beverage amounts are better monitored.
“We look for improvements to the ticket and wristbands, but for us, they work great,” Ruane noted. “If something comes along that helps us make our guests’ experience better, we will look into it. Our goal is to provide the best experience for all of our guests whether they come as individuals or as part of a birthday party or large corporate event.”
As manager and head of marketing for Odyssey Fun World in Illinois, Ryan Jacobs oversees the two locations that include a 45,000-square-foot indoor facility and an 11-acre outdoor facility in Tinley Park, which offers rides, go karts, speedboats, bumper cars, a handicapped-accessible mini-golf course and an arcade, and a 55,000-square-foot indoor facility in Naperville, Ill., which features paint ball. The two locations welcome about 400,000 guests per year.
“We use wristbands for our attractions,” said Jacobs. “We have different wristbands for different rides. The wristbands are easy to use and make it easy to keep track of customers.” At the Exploration Adventure, which is a four-story, soft-play structure designed for children between the ages of 1 and 10, and is located at the Naperville entertainment center, matching wristbands for parents and children are used. “This is an area for small children, so we want our guests to feel safe,” Jacobs explained. “The wristbands have the child’s last name and parents must show up with the matching wristband before we let a child go with him or her. This practice makes our guests feel safe.” As the facilities grow, new ticketing and wristband options might be looked into, but for the moment, the present system addresses Odyssey Fun World’s needs.
As owner of Sugar Grove Family Fun Center in Sugar Grove, Ill., Ed Parolek uses paper tickets and wristbands as proof of admission to his seven-acre facility, which includes among its attractions go-karts, mini-golf, bumper boats and Water Wars. At present, Parolek uses paper tickets and some wristbands for admission to the attractions.
“We have four different colors and all are labeled with the different attractions,” he said. “We also have package tickets as well. There really is no guesswork with the tickets. We use wristbands for special groups such as birthday parties and corporate events. That makes it easier for the guests and easier for us to keep track.” Sugar Grove is open from March to November and Parolek books about one special group, such as a birthday party or corporate event, per week in the summer.
“Right now, the present system I use works great. My staff and I can keep track of what attractions people are going to by the color of the tickets and the way the ticket is labeled. If we expand, we might have to look into new methods of ticketing but for now, we are fine.”