For many FECs, one issue close to everyone’s mind remains how to bridge the gap between sales and marketing and operations.

In many businesses, these three departments (or job functions) couldn’t be further apart. The reality is, though, that the best companies create a symbiotic relationship between all three.

For most of us, each department sets out to deliver the right service or the right message and are doing their very best. So, if everyone is working towards a similar goal, shouldn’t we always be in alignment?

The pieces of this particular puzzle started to finally slip into place as I listened to customer experience expert Dan Gingiss (@dgingiss) deliver a seminar titled, “Don’t Just Create Content, Create Experiences,” at Inbound 2019. This session on marketing content really illuminated the need for all departments in an organization to think of marketing, sales and operations as equal drivers of guest experience.

To do this, Dan recommends the WISER approach. Read on to see how taking his approach in every area of your business will help you work smarter, not harder.

The WISER Approach:

1. Be witty.

Every time you engage with your guests, you should make them feel like they’re a part of your special group – or even part of your family. One way to accomplish this is through wit or humor.

We’re in the fun business, so our language should be fun, too! Every time you use clever wording in a marketing message, you’re giving guests a reason to smile.

But no matter what type of interaction you’re engaging in, they could be much more memorable if you’re letting your personality shine through. I call it the fun factor. Necessary interactions – like transitions in a birthday party, safety briefings, birthday booking calls and just about every other – give you an opportunity to have fun with guests and make their experience exciting.

2. Be intentionally immersive.

Immersive experiences allow your guests to get swept away into a different world – your world. Think of Disney. Disney has built a brand so immersive that people want to become lifelong patrons. My sister-in-law had a Disney themed wedding, takes Disney cruises and visits the Magic Kingdom at least three times per year.

Your brand, just like your personality, should pull your guests in. But this doesn’t happen by chance – rather, by intention. “Larger than Life” theming, immersive attractions, well thought out marketing plans and, of course, the language your team uses in interactions all add layers that create a cohesive (or not) world for your guests to visit.

Let’s say you have a pirate themed mini golf or laser tag attraction. Do the names of your party rooms, packages, what you call birthday guests of honor, names of specialty drinks and food combos all relate to that theme?

Take a moment to look at your business with a critical eye to determine how immersive each stage of your average guest’s visit is, and work towards strengthening it.

3. Make it easily shareable.

Social media is continuously evolving the way guests interact with your business, and they can be your biggest marketers. What you do, say and how your business shows up in the community is fodder for social media users to talk about your brand.

Wit and a terrific guest experience will take you part of the way there, but don’t forget to make it easy for your guests to share content about your business. I can’t tell you how many conferences I’ve gone to where I’ve had to ask about the social media handles and hashtags to use. Your social media channels should be easy to find and highly visible in your instore marketing and digital signage so that it’s simple for guests to find and engage with you online.

Then, consider where you can push for more interaction – give guests a reason to talk about you positively. Maybe it’s a step and repeat, a brag wall, a mascot sighting or a fun promotional event.

The example Dan gave in his presentation was a gin distributor that hosted a tasting. Guests selected their gin brand, a mixer and a unique garnish for their drink. All of these are potentially unique enough to warrant some word of mouth, but the company hit a home run by then handing out cards for guests to name their very own one-of-a-kind cocktail. The addition of this simple step made a good experience a great one – and made guests scramble to post about it on social media.

4. Shoot for extraordinary.

If you’ve done the first three tips here, you’re well on your way to delivering something extraordinary.  It’s found in all the little details of your facility’s attractions, offerings and service.

Can you deliver just a little bit more?

Maybe it’s in sending personal notes responding to every complaint or return, or in helping a long-distance grandmother call on video chat to wish a birthday girl a terrific seventh birthday, or going out of your way to help a hopeful fiancé propose to a surprised bride to be.

Whatever you do, look for ways to deliver on the magic that our industry can create.

5. Be responsive.

You’re going out of your way to wow your guests and leveraging those terrific experiences to do the marketing heavy lifting. Be sure that you don’t miss out on social media’s full potential.

It’s always a good idea to respond to every single piece of feedback that you receive on social media (and everywhere else) to ensure that guests feel heard. I’ve received this question a lot about reviews, and I think the more responsive you can be the better.

If it’s negative, express empathy, and try to get more information offline so that you can resolve the situation with the impacted guests, while also showing others that your business cares enough to dig into issues.

But don’t forget about positive feedback. Dan described that not responding to a customer via social can lead to a 15% increase in customer churn, and he reminds us that “you wouldn’t ignore a compliment in real life, so don’t do it on social medial.”

Through this session, it became clear to me that, for many of us, we fail to connect the dots between guest experience and marketing. Our business’ unique voice must show through beyond the sales and marketing team throughout our entire operation.

Dan Gingiss is a social media and customer experience expert who has worked with such companies as McDonald’s Corporation, Humana and Discover Card. Learn more about or connect with Dan at

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