Dan Snyder and SFI


Jeff said:
Everyone has a choice.

Not true! I would donate plasma if that's what it took to visit amusement parks. If I were a quadruplegic, I would have my life-sustaining medical equipment hauled to the midway just to smell the roller coasters.

Rablat5 wrote;

I'm tired of you guys defending Six Flags' pricing. Dan Snyder deserves the Unsportsman of the Year award. Six Flags is charging more than most other major amusement parks for parking, including the destination Orlando parks. They are NOT offering a superior product, yet they are taking advantage of the people who can't afford to go to any parks but the "local" Six Flags.

Thats just for people who go once a year. If your a seasonpass holder chances are you will buy a season parking pass. For the $45 for the whole season and is good at all SF parks I don't see how you say thats high. How much does CF charge for a season parking pass?

Try going to see a Patriots game where they charge $40 to park, or a concert where they charge $20. IMO those are high parking prices. The last time I checked CF season passes are still more than SF.

Not true! I would donate plasma if that's what it took to visit amusement parks. If I were a quadruplegic, I would have my life-sustaining medical equipment hauled to the midway just to smell the roller coasters.

That is pretty drastic, and I don't know what roller coasters drink like. Jeff does make a good point it is your choice, you don't have to go to parks, in fact this is the first time in 5 or 6 years that I hadn't been to Kings Island more than twice. Yeah I missed it, but I couldn't afford it so I didn't go.

Former KI Employee 2004-Action Theatre 2005-Italian Job Stunt Track/ Eurobungee assistant sup
Of course it's a choice. This world is full of "choices", including ways to spend your money.

Do you get what I'm saying?

Snyder/Shapiro decided to price themselves above even the industry leaders in terms of parking prices, yet their product and service is inferior. They have a right to charge whatever they want, but why stick it to the guests like that? Why not take the higher road and actually give people their money's worth in terms of service and value.

At this point, if they want to give guests their money's worth, they'd better drop some of those prices quick.

Basically, it's kinda like "They got nerve" charging those types of prices when even the industry leaders offering a superior product don't even charge THAT much.

*** Edited 12/27/2006 9:34:29 PM UTC by rablat5***

coastin' since 1985

"Why not take the higher road and actually give people their money's worth in terms of service and value."

Because if they throw money they do not have at this effort, they may not have a company after too long.

While most folks here may agree that Six Flags does not provide the best guest experience, the General Public does not seem to notice. If attendance is down, but revenue is up, it could point to many things. The people that won't spend $15 to park are also less likely to spend money in the park as well. Removing these customers from the base cannot hurt them. In fact, with enough real data, one could argue that it helps them by not having these people. Fewer guests can reduce operational expenses.

Think of the basic math here (using made up numbers for simpicity).

Say 100,000 cars a day pay to park at Six Flags over a 100 day season ($150,000,000 for the season). The $5 extra each day equates to $50,000,000 extra dollars a year.

If 110,000 cars parked per day when it was $10 a day ($110,000,000 for the season), losing 10,000 cars a day because of the higher price, actually nets Six Flags $40,000,000 extra dollars.

This does not even consider the change in per cap spending.

I am not a Six Flags fanboy - and in fact I have lost money with PKS/SIX stock, but that does not mean that I cannot see the potential behind some of these moves.

". . . don't you know baby that life is a scream!" - Gordon Gano

Lord Gonchar's avatar
Yeah, but this is CoasterBuzz Business 101 - if something costs a lot no one uses it and if it's cheap everyone uses it. There couldn't possibly be any gray area and God forbid you try to introduce the idea that that gray area is different for each individual business.

In all seriousness, I'm right there with you CoasterDad. In fact, I've tried to explain the concept of how less volume at a higher price can actually land you ahead in the end. Very few seem to grasp (or at least agree with) the concept.

I've also tried to use the fact that these guys took over a company that ran itself 2 billion dollars into the hole with the 'low pricing'. But the answer from the naysayers seems to be...you guessed it...lower the pricing!

What can I say at this point? CoasterBuzz Business 101 and the application of business theory in the real world seems to be at total odds. Guess which side I'm putting my money on? ;)

I don't suppose the fact Six Flags has frozen the price of a G.A. Ticket for this season and if I'm not mistaken, parking prices would make a bit of difference in this arguement.

Besides, if your paying the gate admission price at any amusement park then you haven't done your homework and IMHO you deserve to pay the full price.

Shapiro raised the price at the parks to get rid of troublemakers. I still find it, well almost hilarious, that some of these people complaining about Six Flags raising prices to help with their image problem, are the ones complaining about the cost of better customer service. If you want CF quality service, you have to pay the price.

In fact, let's make this easy on everyone, just buy the $50 season pass and $45 parking pass. Visit the park twice a season and give them a chance. Quit your moaning.

A day at the park is what you make it!

Sorry for the double post, but I want to add, that $45 parking is good for parking at all Six Flags Parks this season. I just don't see the arguement about how Six Flags is ripping people off. If you don't buy the season pass and parking passes you deserve to get ripped off. Visit any two Six Flags parks and you save money. Geezzzz...

A day at the park is what you make it!

I'm with you coasterguts. As far as I'm concerned, Six Flags still isn't charging enough. Cheap season passes combined with several uses per year, and who's getting ripped off? Come again?

The casual visitor is only going once anyway, and they've already planned those expenses. Anyone going more than once per year, Six Flags has made it easy for you, far *too* easy IMO.

Time to find a new crusade to champion guys, I'm not buying the whole "Six Flags is too expensive" line any more.

You fanboys have been eating too many year-old peanuts. :) The major complaint has not been that Six Flags is too expensive, it's been that the price increases have not been accompanied by any sort of improvement in customer service.

I think most people here were willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on the condition they were really trying to make the guest experience better (reference any Six Flags TR from this season). I wasn't one of them, but then it isn't ALWAYS about me. :)

I'm no business major either, but it's apparent even to me that a 13% increase in per capita spending coupled with a 12% decrease in "capita"-- heads to spend the money-- is basically a wash. So while Sny-piro can brag about their 13% per cap increase, their revenues have remained basically flat. Doesn't impress the stockholders. It's the SF equivalent of pumping artificial crowd noise into a half empty stadium. But all is peachy keen according to Sny-piro.

More importantly, it doesn't give them the sorely needed revenue to make the improvements they've been promising for 14 months. Whose fault is that? According to some here, it's the public's for not blindly handing their money over to Snyder in exchange for no value and poor quality.

My take? Dan Snyder is a carpetbagger, who's using YOUR tax money to make profit for himself (Lord knows at least one of his actual businesses isn't making any). Right now he's probably asking Heinz if they have any leftover ketchup packets from 2002 laying around the warehouse they can sell him cheap.

And to answer another question--no, the Washington Redskins cheerleaders won't let any coastergeeks "rail" them-- then again, coastergeeks only know one definition of the word "rail" anyway, and it doesn't involve any cheerleaders. :)

rollergator's avatar
Which means, in reality, that SFI isn't "too expensive" overall, but IS for the level of service (disservice?) they provide...

The easy answer - press the Easy button :) - IMPROVE customer service. Seriously. Have the park ready to roll at opening. Be prepared for the LARGEST likely crowd. Have food service places that can handle a lunch rush. Have rides and coasters fixed, spiffy, and operating - at the DESIRED level of capacity. MY desires (lines under 20 minutes do NOT require another train guys, sorry). Not the desires of your maintenance department....they paid NOTHING to get in... ;)

Hey, the clean restrooms, they were a HUGE hit. Honestly. :)

Do that, then charge me for a season pass that gives me half-price visits. You'll clean up. I'll be happier too. And you get MORE of my money, at a higher level of guest satisfaction. Instead of buying more "fad" coasters for SFMM, spend the money by keeping the rides running at GAdv and SFMM.

Make the place more enjoyable to be...for customers, AND for your employees. It'll work. I promise. Call it your New Years Resolution. Or call it a day and sell the franchise.

Price is NOT the problem, other than the fact that the super-low prices of the past bankrupted your company. Again, not MY problem. But, you CAN charge what the others charge, even more in the big cities and the northeast. That means you have to DELIVER what they deliver. You can, I believe you can. Prove me right.

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

gator for president!

Fate is the path of least resistance.

Lord Gonchar's avatar

The major complaint has not been that Six Flags is too expensive, it's been that the price increases have not been accompanied by any sort of improvement in customer service.

I'm not sure that's really always been the battle cry. Without a doubt at the beginning people balked at a $60 gate based on nothing other than the price. Then when the sky didn't fall, it became an argument along the lines the price was to high for what they offered.

The funny thing is no one ever really seems to complain about operations or customer service. That alone and you'd find few who argue that SF runs their parks well. So if that's the real issue, then what the hell does price have to do with anything? Seems to me that it's two totally different (yet oddly related) points of interest:

1. SF cutomer service sucks balls
2. SF prices are _________ (fill in the blank)

By correlating the two, it almost seems to me like you're saying that if the price was lower, that the poor service and operations would be acceptable.

So what is really the issue here? Pricing, service or the two as related to each other (also known as "value")?

And on top of that, I find myself wonder why so many seem to know what the problems are, but never really offer a better answer.

You've just taken over a company that is 2 billion dollars in debt, has been steadily increasing that debt due to overspending and underselling themselves, losing their customer base year-to-year and generally displeasing people for many years running. What do you do?

My answer? Exactly what they've done so far. Shake things up a bit. Impliment some new ideas to a generally stagnant industry in terms of going outside the box, get pricing in line and start to rebuild that sumunnabich from the inside out one measly brick at a time.

And the beauty part is - once you do get a few quality key people in place who care and change starts to slowly happen throught the company and things go from horrible to bad to acceptable to good to outstanding - that you've already corrected the pricing issues that killed the last guys and at the same time acclimated your customer base to paying $15 to park and $4 for a soda and now you're really getting somewhere as that attendance finally starts to rise.

Not only do you have to push that runaway truck back up the hill, you have to stop it first.

(and just for the record, peanuts at 7% moisture can be held at 34 to 41°F and 55 to 70% relative humidity for at least one year without an appreciable loss of quality and "Hi Oleic" peanuts have an estimated shelf-life of 37 months :) )

Lord Gonchar's avatar
Meh, double post for Gator getting in on me while I typed. :)

The thing is that improving the situation inside the gate takes both time and money. They don't have the latter and it seems no one wants to give them the former.

Change takes time. Meaningful change takes even longer.

(..and I blew through Freakonomics in an afternoon -minus the additional 'bonus' stuff in the newer revised and expanded version - good stuff for the most part with a couple of exceptions)

Once again LG, you've hit the nail on the head!

If it's not high prices, it's customer service. If it's not customer service, it's that my homepark isn't getting enough attention. It's *always* something. And the new people in charge were given exactly *zero* time to actually fix these things before the complaining started. And anyone who agrees that major changes take major time is labeled a "fanboy". What world are some of you living in? The world of RCT? "Armchair" management?

A simple business class will teach you that you can't have it all at once. To fix the major problems Six Flags takes will take of minimum of 5 years, out of the mouth of Shapiro himself. In the meantime, asking a struggling company not to raise prices is like asking someone not to drink water until it rains again. It's flat out crazy.

When I was able to talk with Shapiro earlier in the spring I asked him why he didn't raise season pass prices right away. After all he himself complained about "giving away season passes". He stated that he wanted to fix the "brand" and heal the reputation before he started raising prices for the "loyal" customer. But they needed to come up with a way to do that without killing themselves from the outset. So they raised the gate and parking prices fully knowing loyal visitors would use the lower season pass price to balance out the change.

I'm not sure if this worked for them or not, but considering they're heading that way again this year says that something is working. All you complainers still haven't offered a usable alternative. It's very easy to whine and moan when a 2 billion dollar debt doesn't hang over your head.

rollergator's avatar
^ Gonch, I'm PAYING, now for the improved situation, now!

My season pass is only getting me half-priced visits! (Miracle Strip had this idea first, I just *borrowed* it....they're defunct, what do they care)... ;)

And you've already SAVED the money on cap-ex, so you're getting the interest while you're hanging on to *my* money... how's THAT for twisted (but sensible) logic... :)

But gator, that's where common sense must prevail. No one is forcing *you* to fund Six Flags while they work on fixing the parks. This is what I don't get. Most of you know the situation the company is in, and while that may not be your problem, it is your choice to support the company "in the meantime". This isn't being forced on anyone.

It's like those people who complain about Walmart, yet continue to shop there for the cheap prices. It's the ultimate disfuctional relationship.

While I may understand what Shapiro needs to do, and support his decision to take radical means to get there, that doesn't mean I'm going to set one foot in his parks until things improve. I'm also not going to ride on a broken city elevator until it's fixed either, even though I may be paying higher taxes to fund fixing it. Just another silly analogy for ya! ;)

Lord Gonchar said:

I've tried to explain the concept of how less volume at a higher price can actually land you ahead in the end. Very few seem to grasp (or at least agree with) the concept.

I understand the concept completely, but it just doesn't hold water in many businesses. It works when you offer something that can't easily be found or you are offering a superior product. Service is another example where it works as well.

BUT, anytime you are offering a product that is readily available at other stores (internet included), quantity can help.

Case in point. My family owns a 2 store operation here in St. Louis. We deal in goods that would not be considered commodities, but are used by a large number of people. Our local competitors also generally tend to be family owned businesses as well.

We sell our goods cheaper than everyone else in town. We therefore sell more of these goods because we are cheaper. Sure our competitor might only need to sell 1 product 'x' to our 3, but we generally don't have a problem covering the spread. Guess what? By doing that we can get an even better discount.

It also means that we have a steady flow of cash to pay for our inventory. We don't have to pay any interest on it if we can buy it outright. How long are you willing to hold onto an item in order to meet your wanted margin? If you can't move it fast enough and you're paying interest on it, your margin is shrinking.

Furthermore, we end up drawing customers from our competitors areas frequently (sometimes as far away as 3 hours) because they were bargain hunting. These customers tend to become loyal to us and we get their business from that point on. You don't get loyal customers by ripping them off.

If you're the only dog in town, you can set your mark and customers can take it or leave it. BUT I would wager that the vast majority of non-service oriented businesses are selling commodities or readily available items. When you aren't the only dog in town, you have to differentiate yourself somehow. Having the highest prices isn't the way I'd choose.

Yeah is Good!
This is the best analogy that explains why I, personally, think the prices (not especially the gate, mind) are too high.

You can buy a Toyota or a Hyundai. With the Toyota, you'll get sound reliability, a nicely performing car that'll hold up. With the Hyundai, you get a decent car that's sketchy. Maybe the customer service won't be as good as Toyota, and the lasting quality certainly won't. With the Hyundai you pay less.

Six Flags is Hyundai without the savings. I love MY SF park, but the customer service isn't comparable to a good park in the Busch/CF chain. So why's the price?

All that said, I love SFOG and I'll continue to get discount tickets and spend as little money in the park as possible. Hi Mr. Snyder!

Lord Gonchar's avatar

rollergator said:
how's THAT for twisted (but sensible) logic...

My favorite kind! :)

But it really is a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.

Say they left prices alone - didn't change one bit.

Now let's just throw an arbitrary number out there - like 4 years. Let's say in 4 years SF is offering service that is equal to or better than the entire industry.

So then they raise prices.

Guess what the argument is now?

"They're making me pay twice as much for the same thing I got last year!"

When exactly is the right time to fix pricing?

I say in the case of a company wallowing in so much debt, the sooner the better. Solve one problem at a time in a logical order.

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