Hit guest experience out of the park with these tips.

Last Sunday, many of our CenterEdge team members and their families came together for the first company-wide outing in over two years.

One of our most cherished regular events prior to COVID was attending a Durham Bulls minor league baseball game for some food, fun, and togetherness.

Our event was packed and, as it was Father’s Day, our goal was to make our CenterEdge dads – and all of our team members and families, feel special.

The staff and teams at the Durham Bulls game hit a home run for us. Today, we’re sharing five guest experience moments that we think are a real catch. (We’ll stop with the puns soon, promise.)

No. 1: Exceptional food service

When you think about a minor league baseball park, great food might be the last thing that comes to mind. But the banquet staff brought their A-game on Sunday. The buffet was always kept neat and clean, the barbecue was fresh and delicious, and they never ran out of food.

Consumers have high expectations these days and businesses need to deliver on their guest service promises. No one wants to buy the last pretzel or pizza slice in the case and your guests will notice if it looks like your food service staff doesn’t care.

Your facility may serve elevated food and beverage, with apple-jalapeno slaw topped 14 hour-smoked pork sliders, or it may simply offer traditional pizza, chicken tenders, and fries. But just because you’re a family entertainment venue and not a restaurant, doesn’t mean that you can’t have fresh, hot, and great-tasting food. Let your food be the surprise that people talk about.

No. 2: Engaged staff

Every team member at the park that we encountered behaved as if they were excited to be there. They chatted with us, thanked us for coming, wished dads a Happy Father’s Day, and engaged with the kids throughout the event. Everyone was smiling and no one seemed to be irritated, unhappy, or bored.

We bring this up because my teammate who mentioned it was so surprised that everyone seemed like they were in a good mood. And that’s a prime example of why your culture is so important and how managers need to be vigilant about coaching and mentoring staff. If just one person seemed apathetic about their roles, they would have stood in stark contrast to the rest of the team.

If someone on your team immediately sprang to mind as being in stark contrast to the rest of the team, you might have a team member coaching opportunity. If you see it, so do your guests.

No. 3: Unique fun factor

We’re in the fun business, and your business and staff have unique differentiators, noteworthy touches or offerings. Maybe it’s a series of well-themed cocktails, a mile-high steak burger, your state-of-the-art laser tag arena, or simply staff that sings every time a tip is given. Find ways to deliver unique fun in your day-to-day operations.

At the game, our team couldn’t stop talking about the park’s “bottomless cup.” The bartender would place a special cup under the beer tap and it would automatically turn the tap on to refill itself with the perfect amount of beer and foam. It was unique and a conversation starter, which is always a winning combination.

No. 4: Consistent recognition

Throughout our event, dads were consistently recognized by staff, even where we least expected it. Our team sat behind the opposing team’s bullpen and even the Louisville Bats players interacted. They wished dads a happy Father’s Day and gave away baseballs that they signed for the kids in our group. Everyone was delighted! Obviously, that’s a bonus that the Durham Bulls team couldn’t have foreseen, but maybe it’s part of the culture built minor league baseball has built “for love of the game.” It gives you something to think about.

Are there moments that team members are letting slip by because they’re busy and focused on tasks rather than people? How many dads felt special at your facility last weekend? How often do staff give special recognition to birthday children, veterans, or kids in costume? I have a strict policy that whenever I see a child in costume out and about, I always interact with them as their character. In fact, last weekend, I was at a local farmers’ market and passed a tiny Spiderman. You had better believe I asked if he was off to fight crimes, as did others milling around.

You could tell he felt amazing with the recognition and my own mood soared seeing his delight. That’s the beauty of meaningful interactions, folks. It costs us nothing to care and there’s so much to gain.

No. 5: A special surprise

As if the day weren’t fun enough, children at the ballpark that day were treated to a special surprise. Those who stayed until the end of the game had the opportunity to run the bases like the Durham Bulls. This small surprise goes a long way to building life-long baseball fans. It’s also worth mentioning that this approach may mean that families who might have left early stayed in the park later, giving them opportunities to buy more food and beverage and merchandise – pretty smart if you ask us!

Consider the types of special surprises you could implement to boost your overall guest experience. Character appearances, prize wheels, 100th guest of the day bonuses, arcade play-alongs, free desserts or attraction passes, and so on, can make a huge difference in how guests feel about their visit and your business.

There are so many quick, easy, and inexpensive touches you can add to your guest experience to delight guests, drive loyalty, boost revenue, and improve team member morale – and wouldn’t that be a grand slam of success?

How are you delighting guests? Share with us in the comments.


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