I spent all last week visiting amusement parks in the New England area, which not only included riding roller coasters, but interviewing some of the owners and key people responsible for each park’s existence and success. In reality, I am not doing the actual interviews, but rather my friend, Gary Kyriazi, who writes for Park World Magazine is conducting them. I am simply along for the ride.
Out of four interviews, one stands out as a great example of how to practice customer relations the right way while another stands out as the wrong way to go about it.
Bad Customer Relations Behavior
La Ronde, located in Monteal, Quebec (Canada), is a beautiful park which would provide us the opportunity to increase our coaster count by nine. The plan was to meet with the marketing director and his assistance, tour the park and then conduct an interview in which Gary would later turn into an article to be published in the magazine. The entire experience lasted about and hour and a half.
The typical process following this is to ride roller coasters and other things of interest to us (log flumes, dark rides, etc.). With some of the more prominent rides, we might gain front of the line access, whether we are walked on by staff or given passes that allow us to bypass the long lines. Sometimes we may eat lunch or dinner in the park. This is all complimentary of course. Not in the case of La Ronde. In fact after the interview, they pretty much said, “Alright then, goodbye.”
Gary then informed them that we wanted to ride some attractions in the park. They replied that we would have to exit the park and pay admission before re-entering. Huh?
That is unheard of in our past experiences. Additionally, we would have to move our rental car out of its current location which was by the administration building, to the general parking lot, that after paying a $15 parking fee. We were a bit shocked but figured that we might as well comply seeing we had driven all the way up from the U.S. It would cost us little under a $100 to park and get our rides in. Although out of the ordinary, we can live with that.
However, we had another dilemma – we did not have any Canadian money. If the park had a means for us to exchange our U.S. currency, that would not have been a problem. Unfortunately they did not.
We asked if we could stay parked by the administration building but that was out of the question. Even as we discussed among ourselves the option of having to drive back to the hotel in order to exchange our U.S. currency for Canadian, there was never an offer of a parking voucher or anything like it. In fact the marketing director seemed to be getting more frustrated minute by minute over our lack of preparation.
To make a long story short, we were able to pay U.S. currency to park and use our credit cards to purchase tickets but the fact remains that when doing an interview for a park that is going to essentially provide them free publicity, it is usually customary to provide complimentary admission to the park, possibly provide front of the line access to the more popular rides and then throw in lunch or dinner.
We did not receive that treatment at La Ronde but in fact wasted two hours gathering information for an article that now (due to the way we were treated) was not going to be written. La Ronde failed terribly in their customer relations.
Great Customer Relations Behavior
The park that passed the customer relations test with flying colors was Lake Canobie. Not only did we get to meet and talk with three of the family members that run this family-owned park, they treated us to an extensive behind the scenes tour, provided us a very nice free lunch and even allowed us to pick out shirts and hats from the souvenir shop.
They were all to happy to spend time quality with us, educating us on the park’s history as well as sharing some future direction for the park. Unlike at La Ronde, we felt that our presence was very much valued.
The lesson learned here is to treat people who show an interest in what you do the utmost respect. This type of behavior can go a long way in building a quality reputation.