With consumers becoming more discerning than ever, the best FEC’s always find ways to surprise and delight.

After our recent labor blog where we talked about the importance of transparency with guests, we thought it made sense to follow up with the importance of constantly pushing to operate smarter.

COVID has impacted our communities and businesses in ways we are probably still not completely aware of yet. But some businesses have also used COVID or the labor shortage as an excuse for mediocre products and services. While guests may be forgiving initially, we all know that any grace we’re afforded for questionable guest service is likely short-term at best.

To help get back to what makes a memorable guest experience, we brought back this popular blog with five ways to impress your guests.

No. 1: Offer a one-of-a-kind product.

Unique offerings can, of course, be your attractions and games, but it usually pays to think outside the box and offer a food item or beverage that creates buzz.

Not long ago, I shared the experience of tasting a seasonal flavored coffee at a local restaurant that was so noteworthy that I immediately wanted to buy some to make at home. The restaurant had partnered with Raphael’s Roastery, a local Tennessee coffee roaster, to provide patrons with a unique offering.

In my opinion, this was a home run because instead of getting just any blend from their food purveyor, they paid particular attention to providing guests with the absolute best product.

I have since been an extremely loyal customer with a high lifecycle spend – of the coffee roastery. After giving it some thought, I realized that the restaurant, which had a well-stocked general store, failed in capitalizing on one of the things that made it great. Had they offered bags of ground coffee or beans, they’d have kept more of my attention – and my business.

Is there something that you can offer guests that keep their attention? Disney, for example, has their Dole Whip. Double Tree Hotels have their chocolate chip cookie. Hattie B’s in Nashville has their hot chicken. Is there something your facility can offer, perhaps a Tik Tok-worthy over-the-top loaded fry starter or a boozy all-desserts-topped milkshake? Whatever you do, make it memorable and show it off.

No. 2: Create compelling packages.

Bundling offers your guest the opportunity to boost their experience, and their overall visit spend. For example, when I was ordering coffee, I noticed they had bundled four flavors together into a “Seasonal Sampler.” I was sold — and almost quadrupled my intended spend! So not only did this start as a great experience, but now I was even more excited because I would get the opportunity to try different products I might not have purchased on their own.

Think about your amusement park’s most popular attractions or food options. Is there an attraction or offering that you know is terrific that might not be getting the traction you’re hoping for? Consider ways to bundle your most popular items with unique specials or add-on attractions so that your guests receive an even better experience than they were expecting. Or consider how you can turn infrequent guests into loyal visitors by offering exciting memberships.

No. 3: Make it personal.

My seasonal bundle arrived, and when I reviewed the packing slip, I noticed a note that expressed their sincere gratitude for my purchase. They even threw in a free sample of a S’more flavor to thank me for being a new customer. For those that know me, there is probably no treat I like more than a S’more, so I was absolutely delighted!

While giving me my favorite flavor was a coincidence, it was still an intelligent risk to take. If you offer a guest loyalty program, it’s a great idea to incentivize people early on so that they want to engage with your program or FEC right away. This will help you get to know your guests and their spending habits within your park so you can build customer profiles.

Those buying behaviors give you the data to make things personal. How meaningful do you think it would be for you to send a personalized marketing email or special offer to guests who purchased tickets to your laser tag attraction or used your trampoline park? If you link purchases to guest profiles through attraction waivers, you easily have this data, but if you don’t, all this data would be available if you enroll guests in your loyalty programs.

Bottom line: the more personalized the guests’ experience, the more loyal they’re likely to be.

No. 4: Make it easy for them to engage with you.

I was so excited about my purchase that I wanted to share my happiness with others. I rarely leave reviews, but their thank you note included an invitation to give them a five-star review if I was thrilled with my purchase. They made it so easy for me to go to Facebook and wrote about my wonderful experience while enjoying that first cup. I even went the extra step and immediately purchased some as a gift for my mom’s birthday and made a note to buy more as holiday gifts. As Walt Disney said, “Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.”

No. 5: Deliver the unexpected.

Finally, my experience reached a new height ten minutes later when a Facebook notification popped up that Raphael’s commented on my review. Their response was, “Thanks so much, [Sherry] for your kind review! I am glad you are enjoying our Spring 4-Pack. Next month the Summer 4-Pack will be added as well! I’m glad you like the S’mores and appreciate you sharing us with your friends in FL! — Mike.”

Just wow.

This response did three things exceptionally well that made me, as the customer, feel especially important:

  1. They responded to my review in a timely and positive fashion.
  2. They pulled in my recent order data (which had not been mentioned in my original review) and thanked me for that as well.
  3. And they were sure to let me know that a new bundle was coming soon – making me that much more eager to see what’s coming next from the company.

I should now add that since my initial purchase, Raphael’s continues to cultivate my loyalty. They leave handwritten notes on packing slips, give me sneak peeks into new flavors, and invite me to review new products on Google or Facebook. They consistently make their customers feel incredibly valuable.

Every decision they make interacting with me serves to impress, which is a winning strategy for gaining any customer’s loyalty.

How does your experience measure up? Share with us in the comments or on Twitter, or watch this video on How to Help Your Team Shine and Improve Your Facility

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