Alton Towers set to change poor image

Posted Monday, August 25, 2003 5:01 AM | Contributed by supermandl34

Bosses at Alton Towers are to launch "Disney-style" training courses to solve a jobs crisis caused by the attraction's image as an employer. Theme park bosses admitted customers have suffered because it has not spent enough time training its managers in the past. The attraction, which was branded "the UK's worst day out" by a BBC consumer programme last week, also confirmed it is having trouble attracting suitable applicants to fill hundreds of permanent and seasonal vacancies. But it says plans are in place to attract and keep higher quality staff, and managers will be put through new training courses in a bid to improve customer service.

Read more from The Sentinel.

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Monday, August 25, 2003 5:53 AM
This is interesting, I would love "disney-style" service at all parks.

I never found the staff at AT any worse than any other park, but the guest services were good, which is something.

If any park in the UK needs to improve their staff, it is Blackpool Pleasure Beach, they are so rude, arrogant, and even aggressive. Fortunately every other aspect of the park is wonderful so it doesn't spoil the day.

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Monday, August 25, 2003 6:31 AM
The irony in your statement is that there were a great many Cedar Point seasonals this year complaining that they didn't get enough hours. I think they want 60-hour weeks.

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DELETED! What time does the water show start?

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Monday, August 25, 2003 6:50 AM
I don't know if this is true but one reason they probably want 60 hours is for more money. Most of CP's seasonals stay in housing which they have to pay for and they pay for their meals (albeit a lower price). Once that is deducted from their pay, they probably aren't making as much as they anticipated and hence want more hours.
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Monday, August 25, 2003 6:53 AM
I am aware of the complaints at Cedar Point. They wouldn't need to work 60 hours/week if the pay were a little better. During the past couple of weeks I wouldn't be suprised if there were kids working nearly 80 hours. This time of year is always critical for the seasonal parks as the kids start heading back to school.

When you start working that many hours though I begin to question how effective an employee can be.

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Monday, August 25, 2003 6:57 AM
Regarding the article, I think it's admirable to see a major park admit that they've got an employee/atmosphere problem and then take steps to fix it. Would be nice to see some major American parks take similar measures, though I think park service in general is rather good.

Kinda off topic, but I keep hearing rumors that Nemesis' theming and surroundings are starting to get a bit dillapidated. Is that true?

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Mike Anderson

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Monday, August 25, 2003 7:46 AM
Nah, if people made more money, they'd still want to work more hours. The goal is to make as much money as possible in the summer so they don't have to work as much during the school season. You can pay people more, but that'll still mean they want more hours.

Am I the only one who doesn't think "Disney-style" customer service is that great? It just seems super-fake to me. That forced grin, and 10,000th "have a nice day" ... it just seems to me like they were brainwashed ala Clockwork Orange. "Must... smile... or... face... gut... wrenching... pain..."

I want people to BE happy, not just ACT happy.

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Monday, August 25, 2003 8:02 AM
Its one-part "proper training" and one-part "proper treatment". You can tell an employee to smile and say "have a nice day", and they probably will do both, but if you want them to mean it, you have to treat them right.

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-Rob
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Posting @ Coasterbuzz since 2000
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Monday, August 25, 2003 8:27 AM
Rob said it perfectly, you have to treat the employees right. Also that BBCc program has to have AT mixed up with SF parks hehehe, AT the worst day out naw they have to be talking about SFMM lol. SFMM would make the Pope leave cursing up a storm lol.

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Monday, August 25, 2003 8:34 AM
ha thought so When I was there bout a Week ago one the car was Alton Towers Questionaire asking first bout all the rides then the park it self and a large amount of questions about there staff so I Had a Thought they where trying to chance something About there staff.

Opps thats remind me I still havnt posted it back lol!

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Monday, August 25, 2003 8:43 AM
Didn't we just have a thread about a month ago where everyone was up in arms going back and forth saying that these people knew what they got themselves into, and no one should be taking steps to help them out, they should be happy with the jobs they have, and pay raises and reduced hours are not in order? Now everyone's in favor of thinking about reducing hours and increasing pay to attract better employees? Decide on an opinion ...

I've always felt that theme park workdays are insane, and there should be a choice between working the full thing, or two half-day shifts. That way those that do need to work that much to get the money can, and those that would rather take what they can get and not work 12 hour days also have that option.

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Monday, August 25, 2003 9:22 AM
kpjb,

I agree with you. Disney service seems too fake to me as well.

Just a couple of weeks ago, a group of friends and I had a horrible day at DCA. So bad in fact that we went to guest relations to complain. We weren't looking for anything in return other than to have someone listen to our complaints seriously.

We felt the person that was working behind the desk in guest relations was not listening to us so we asked to talk to a manager. Soon, a manager started talking with us and giving us the typical fake-style "everything is good because we are Disney" stuff. Once he figured out we had some legitimate complaints about the park, and knew we weren't looking for anything in return, he changed his tune rather quickly and gave us a few honest answers to our problems and even taught us a bit about how Disney operates. This actually caught us by surprise as the info he shared was a bit shocking.

Anyway, when I visited Alton Towers last year, I found the park not only to be the most trashiest park I had been to, but some of the ride operators were downright rude. By the end of the first day I spent there, I didn't want to come back the second day, but I did just to see if it would have been an improvement.

Luckily, the park was operating much better. The park was cleainer. The operators were nicer. If the park can acheive some sort of balance standard, then perhaps more people will come. The same thing can be said for some other parks I have been to.

-Sean

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Monday, August 25, 2003 10:18 AM
Impulse-ive: You're mixing up two different issues.

From the customer's point of view, the staff and therefore the park which is training the staff have a responsibility to treat the guests with courtesy and respect.

From the park's point of view, the way to get the staff to do this is to better train them, better pay them, and give them more time off.

The customer doesn't care how or why the park enacts good service, but expects and deserves it.

The only thing the park cares about is how to get good service (and therefore more customers) regardless of whether guests deserve it.

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Be polite and ignore the idiots. - rollergator
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Monday, August 25, 2003 11:23 AM
It was my experience when working with seasonal employees that they are all talk in the beginning about working as many hours as is possible. Then, they develop friendships and a social life and suddenly, they don't want those hours anymore. Or, they want lots of hours but..."I don't want to work Tues, Wed, or Thurs evening shifts...I can't work Saturdays and I need every other Monday off. But, give me all the hours you can." :-)

That is generally the way it works.

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Monday, August 25, 2003 11:26 AM
I would suggest that Alton Towers look not only at Disney, but also at Holiday World. There's a reason why HW continues to win the Golden Ticket for friendliest employees.
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Monday, August 25, 2003 11:31 AM
I was thikning about this a bit recently (having had a terrible day at SFMW, employee-wise) and was wondering what makes some parks employees better than others? Is it training, management, example (from veteran staff or higher ups)?

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Be polite and ignore the idiots. - rollergator
"It's not a Toomer" - Arnold Schwartzenkoph
"Those who know don't talk and those who talk don't know." -Jeff

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Monday, August 25, 2003 8:03 PM
Okay, is there a Vegas line on whether the clueless folks at SF headquarters will heed this idea for themselves and realize they could increase revenue in the way of increased attendance by following this lead instead of jacking prices every year!?!? lolol
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Monday, August 25, 2003 8:45 PM
Customer service has got to come within you. That's how I look at it. I can totally relate to how the employees look at the jobs as far as the hours go. From here on out at SFA, we're only open weekends. It's obviously harder to staff the park with all the "youngsters" back in school (they started yesterday, 8/25, and we were open from 10:30-6). Employees were redistributed from every division to different departments to keep the rides running. It was kind of fun on the other hand working in a different division (I worked in Looney Tunes Movieland). Seeing the little kids having fun and enjoying their first rides was fun, and brought a smile to my face.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 12:43 AM
The state of Alton Towers is debated a lot on UK boards at the moment. To be honest I think they are missing the point a bit. Sure the staff arent the greatest and the park doesnt have much of an atmosphere anymore but this doesnt come down to just the staff this comes down to the fact that for a park that attracts 2.5 million visitors a year it only has 14 major rides. Its no wonder people at the park are miserable when air's queue rarely goes below 2 hours for a 40 second ride, the rides in the park are always breaking down and every ride there looks tatty and old.

The park needs to add filler attractions, Thorpe Park is adding an abundence of flat rides, in the last few years alone.... a magic carpet, a big wheel, an enterprise, an AfterBurner and a 115ft drop Tower these are are relatively cheap and help remove large crowds from the main coasters. Alton Towers need to start doing this.

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Friday, August 29, 2003 1:44 PM
I have visited AT countless times and each time have found the situation there getting steadily worse. The ride ops are generally OK (some even cheerful) but the staff in the shops and resteraunts generally have a "can't be bothered" attitude about them. Customer service there is generally poor, although I wrote with a number of complaints and recieved a letter, was phoned up by the park as well as recieving vouchers for a return visit so I cannot fault that.

I agree with Aflack, the park needs more rides that are worth queuing for, the three main coasters are excellent, but the black hole needs an overhaul (being black inside would help as opposed to twighlight) but preferable with something with a higher capacity, the corkscrew needs dumping and replacing with something exciting and less painful, and the flat rides are pathetic, most run on the tamest settings with generally 1 ride op which means the load / unload times are painful.

Alton has the setting and the space, and despite the strict planning laws, should have an arsenal of rides to rival anywhere. However, even though AT has IMO the best coaster in the country (Nemesis) and the scariest (Oblivion), Thorpe park is racing ahead as the countrys best park.*** This post was edited by tallguy 8/29/2003 5:45:10 PM ***

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