Geauga Lake won't honor all Six Flags free tickets

Posted Wednesday, May 26, 2004 8:46 AM | Contributed by supermandl

Geauga Lake's new owners have decided not to honor the free tickets promised by Six Flags to graduates of local Drug Abuse Resistance Education programs. The program was one of many that Six Flags offered tickets to. The park agreed to honor passes for a reading program.

Read more from The Plain Dealer.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 8:49 AM
Nice lead there. That's another fine mark of journalism from The Vain Pleader.

Seriously though, no wonder Six Flags didn't make any money with the park. No one ever paid to get in!

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 9:00 AM
While it may not be a good PR move as noted in the article, one still has to think about the bottom line here and where does this all stop. They are not getting reimbursed by Six Flags for their blunders, so why should Cedar Fair have to honor a Six Flags pass if they dont want to. I am sure Six Flags figured that people would come and either bring their families on these freebies or maybe make a trip back with their families and spend some money in the park. Obviously that did not work at this park or it would still be a Six Flags park.
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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 9:38 AM
I find it kind of strange that all of these free ticket programs didn't come out during CF's due dilligence process prior to the sale...

I have to wonder what kind of tracking process SFWOA's marketing department used that GL management is only now finding out about free ticket programs when questioned by guests.

Joel

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 9:52 AM
I agree, Cedar Fair shouldn't have to honor the tickets if they don't want to, but I don't know if it's a good idea to tick off a large number of the people you were counting on to come to the park...especially in your first year of operation. I mean, isn't that what Six Flags did? They never did recover from it.

If it was me (and I KNOW it's NOT) I'd bite the bullet and take the free pass hit, just to keep good will within the community. If everyone that goes in on those free passes comes out with a "good taste in their mouth", the word of mouth alone would be worth it.

Using myself as an example, I work for six radio stations in Youngstown, Ohio. I originally had no intention of going to the park outside media day. But, I had such a good time, and got such a good vibe from the park on opening day, that I ended up buying a season pass and parking pass before the day was over (not to mention souvenirs). Then I went on each morning show and praised the job Cedar Fair did in turning the park into an enjoyable experience (The Fun IS back). So not only did they get my money, they also got good press in a coverage area from Pittsburgh to Cleveland (if you take in the coverage areas of all the stations)...all because they let me in FREE for a day.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 9:58 AM
It is, in all honesty, a bad move for PR from Cedar Fair to not honor those DARE vouchers. Sure, it's their move... they can do what they want...

...but to put it in perspective, as Goccvp1 has said, if the person attending gets a free ticket due to being a graduate of the DARE program, they're most likely going to bring along their parents, whom are paying customers. Not to mention that since they're a family attending, they're likely to spend more money on consessions & games as well which will more than make up for the revenue "lost" by the free ticket to admission.

Plus, if you honor the tickets, those who do attend it for free will also see the park for themselves, what has become and leave them with a better taste in their mouths. They'll likely walk away wanting to return... paying.
It's not like it really should be a bad thing. I mean, the park is in their transition year, so it would only make sense to honor the tickets since attendance will likely to be down due to keeping a low profile & the fact that some people will think half the park is closed from the wildlife side.

Bad move from PR in my opinion...

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 10:00 AM
Good grief. Is there anyone in the Cleveland Metro area that did anything without the promise of free Six Flags tickets?Why is the local paper intent on screwing up the best thing tha's happened to the park in several years? Did the Block's (sic) buy the Plain Dealer?
Plus, why do we keep talking about the "spend money on food and merchandise" theory? It wasn't happening before.
*** This post was edited by PerrysburgGuy 5/26/2004 10:01:51 AM ***
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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 10:03 AM
I submitted to news, but here it is anyways. Seems they have decided to honor the DARE tickets.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 10:10 AM
At least it only took them a day or so this time to change their minds.

It's one thing to take the PR hit (by denying the tickets) and the revenue hit (by later accepting them) once. But to make the same stupid mistake again is just silly.

Either the park is going to accept all prior SF incentive programs, or they are not. Either decision would be okay---decide to either lose PR or $, and then stick with that decision. But, they can't keep shooting themselves in the foot like this.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 10:10 AM
What's next, did SFWoA give out freebee vouchers for kids who graduated high school, too? People who look both ways before they cross the street? People who don't jaywalk?
For pity's sake.
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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 10:18 AM
WEWS must have been inspired by Action News, as Channel 5 appears to take credit.

For those who think the park will still come out ahead with kids bringing their parents and such, the article states: "As part of the promotion, students also received a discount coupon that allowed six friends or relatives to buy half-price tickets." Six people getting half-off adds up.

Like Jeff said, this was part of the reason Six Flags failed in this market. You can't expect Cedar Fair to take a financial hit (and it is a hit - I think you overestimate the gain from in-park spending and return guests) just because it makes a nice feel-good story for the newspaper.

If free tickets are good for business, why doesn't Geauga Lake just hand out a free ticket to all school kids in the region? Same theories on upside apply, but I don't think anyone here would see that as a good practice. That's not a good way to promote and advertise, unless you want to lose money.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 10:24 AM
A few more thoughts on this...

I think it's worse from a PR standpoint for CF to "back down" and accept these free passes after they've publicly said that they wouldn't. The message that (I feel) this sends is "we were wrong." I don't think that's necessarily the case, but that becomes the message.

That being said, I agree with Goccvp1--they should just bite the bullet (this year) and accept the free passes. (Hopefully there aren't any more big surprises...) But in either case I think they should determine their policy & stick with it--take them/don't take them, but be consistent in the message.

Since "in park spending" is an important metric that publicly traded theme park companies report to Wall Street, I have to wonder if that had anything to do with the multitude of free admissions given away by Six Flags. For example, is in-park spending calculated as a factor of admissions revenue? If so, a lower amount of admission revenue could show an increase percentage in in-park spending since the "freebies" are still buying stuff in the park. (Of course, if in-park spending is calculated simply by number of admissions--not revenue--this is a moot point.)

Joel

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 10:33 AM

Good grief. Is there anyone in the Cleveland Metro area that did anything without the promise of free Six Flags tickets?

That's probably the funniest thing I've read in a while. :)

More correctly, do the kids in the Cleveland Metro area do anything without being bribed by SF tickets?

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 10:35 AM
Gemini,

I just want to clear up my point. I don't think giving out all these free admissions is a good policy. However, since they are already out there, I say keep in good graces with the public and honor them. You most likely will lose money this year, but happy guests are usually return guests (something Six Flags just couldn't understsand).

I guarantee that next year, there won't be all these free passes. Keep the good will this year, get their admission dollars next year (and more than likely, they will return this year..and pay to get in).

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 10:48 AM
Joel---it's not "in park spending" so much as it is "per-capita spending". As I understand it, the per-cap number *includes* admission revenue.
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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 11:03 AM
You guys don't get it...

Every time they DON'T accept freebies, they get free publicity.
Every time they change their mind, they get more free publicity.

Oh look--we're back in the headlines!

-CO

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 11:14 AM
Disneyland and SFNE have been in the headlines recently too, but I bet they wish they hadn't been. At least not for killing guests. Despite the old saw, there is such a thing as bad publicity. True, this might not meet that standard, but still.
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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 11:14 AM
I was thinking the same thing Playa.

I was going to come on here and rip park management for making yet another dumb PR mistake. Then, when I thought about it for a minute I realized that they may be, in fact, making strategic decisions to keep their names in the media for free.

So, either they are extremely incompetent and can't make a decision to save themselves or they are very clever and they are milking this for every drop.

I agree with Jeff. You just can't give away the gate. But, in this first year, I think the park should just swallow those freebies that are out there and make some significant changes to the donation program starting next season and beyond.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 11:24 AM
Six Flags totally gave the gate away. I remember a couple years ago getting free Six Flags tickets from AOL, and I wasn't even an AOL subscriber! All you had to do was go to the AOL website and submit a form to order the tickets. No cost, no shipping, nothing.
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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 11:35 AM
This recurring "change of heart" strategy from CF reminds of some beverage company and their *waffling* from about 10 years ago...

New Coke, anyone? ;)

bill, thinking the "New, Old, Classic Coke" must have some sort of sponsorhip opportunity in Northern Ohio...

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