Holiday World Customer Service Shines

Friday, June 22, 2012 2:07 AM

Not sure who all saw this, so I thought I'd share it with you all. There was recently a water main break in Santa Claus, IN, forcing the town into a Boil Advisory. Since the park offers free soft drinks, they didn't just stop serving all together. No, instead they brought in cans and bottles to pour drinks for the guests. Just goes to show how amazing Holiday World is with customer satisfaction. They do incredible things in Santa Claus, and every time I leave, I can't wait to go back. Here's that article.

http://www.themeparkfoodie.net/post/25404757863/holidayworldboilorder

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Friday, June 22, 2012 10:07 AM

I thought this was going to be an article about their ride capacity.

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Friday, June 22, 2012 10:38 AM

Let me start by saying that I like Holiday World, I've been there and found it to be a great gem of a park.

That being said... what other option did they have? It's not like they trucked in drinks out of the goodness of their hearts. If they didn't have drinks for people, they would have to close the park. That would have cost them a lot more than 50 pallets of Pepsi products.

I don't think they did anything amazing or incredible, short of save their bottom line by not closing the park until water was restored.

Any other park, restaurant, hotel, theater, etc. would have done the same thing in the same situation.

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Friday, June 22, 2012 10:54 AM

Yeah, I had the same thoughts. It really was a no brainer kind of move. It was a sound business decision, but not really an altruistic act of kindness.

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Friday, June 22, 2012 11:27 AM

Agreed.

However, I have been to Six Flags once or twice and been told at certain drink stands that ice isn't available.

So in comparison to not being able to cart some ice across the midway, this is consideration for sainthood.

But yeah, can't imagine them not doing this and am constantly impressed at how they're able to spin business-minded choices into positive PR like this.

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Friday, June 22, 2012 11:44 AM

Vater said:
I thought this was going to be an article about their ride capacity.

Well, if they pulled a bunch of their employees from other areas, a logical leap would be that they pulled possibly some of their ride ops to help out. Then we have slower, less EFFICIENT ride operations, therefore decreasing PPH and still ticking people off. *snicker*

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Friday, June 22, 2012 11:56 AM

^Which would have been a perfect lead-in to the new Holiday Rush virtual queuing system.

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Friday, June 22, 2012 2:13 PM

I understand it's a no brainer, and only made sense from a business standpoint, however, Indiana Beach has had boil water advisories the past few years from time to time, and they sell bottled drinks in place. They do not offer even water for free during such times. Just as a comparison, even if they had to do it, at least Holiday World did it, and that is what makes me happy. Business or not, they do what they must, and don't slack.

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Friday, June 22, 2012 3:08 PM

Yeah, ditto. Every park has a 'Plan B', and there is no need to have a press conference.

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Friday, June 22, 2012 4:27 PM

I am not familiar with Holiday World. I know that they offer free soft drinks, but, does that include canned and bottled drinks? I can see that if they already had canned and bottle drinks on the property, pulling out large amounts to cover the boil deal, wouldn't seem like it would be a planned move. But, if they had to bring them in from elsewhere, I can see that being a big deal.

I worked in a food court at one time, and the entire building lost running water during the lunch rush, and we actually were without water for most of the day, and during the dinner rush. Which was usually around 1,000 drinks or more. Luckily for us, we were also located inside of a grocery store, and we pretty much cleaned out the grocery back room of it's soda. Plus a huge amount of bagged ice for the coolers we had to bring in just for the pop. The coolers also had to be written off as a loss, because once we used them, we could not sell them. They were later part of an employee raffle, and they gave them all away. The big plastic coolers not the cheap styro.

We also had to include the pop with whatever meal the customers ordered, which was a double loss. Not selling the fountain pop, and loss of sales of the canned soda. Which we used plenty of 24 and 12 packs. So, it does matter. I forgot to mention that we also gave away bottled water, and snapple to whomever wanted it.

Last edited by Timber-Rider, Friday, June 22, 2012 4:34 PM
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Friday, June 22, 2012 4:43 PM

WildStangAlex said: Indiana Beach has had boil water advisories the past few years from time to time, and they sell bottled drinks in place.

But they don't offer free drinks anyhow, do they? So why would they give them away if they're bottled?

Holiday World advertises "free soft drinks", not "free fountain drinks, when available." They had two choices: free bottled Pepsi, or close.

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Friday, June 22, 2012 5:40 PM

kpjb said:

But they don't offer free drinks anyhow, do they? So why would they give them away if they're bottled?

I'm speaking strictly on Water. Water is free at the park normally (as is every other park). But when they couldn't have the taps on, they sold bottled water, but did not offer anything for free. That really upsets people who plan on bringing an empty water bottle to fill or that usually drink from the fountains on the boardwalk. Just an example of a situation that has happened, and while they do not normally have free soft drinks, they do have free water.

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Friday, June 22, 2012 10:01 PM

This is why HW gets so much love though. Sure, it's the only option they had, but because of the perception of free drinks, this just improves their reputation.

Can't understand why every park doesn't do this.

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Friday, June 22, 2012 11:55 PM

Jeff said:
Can't understand why every park doesn't do this.

Because people still show up at their gates and fork over the money. Only when they have competition that takes away from their gate receipts would they make a change... but, who am I kiddng, they would just raise soda prices to compensate.

The free soft drinks are another example of the genius of the late Will Koch's real legacy - the creation of a "family themed" family theme park. Holiday Word's true theme is one that is equivalent to the feeling of coming home to friends and family, not one of important dates on the calendar. It's real connection is how those calendar dates make you feel. The soft drinks are like walking into the kitchen and helping yourself. The same holds true for the free parking, sunscreen, and saying hello to Mrs. Koch as she's cleaning up her guests messes.

He was a modern day Walt Disney in many ways in the way he revolutionized the way a small family owned amusement park could not only compete against the giants; but, thrive against them. It's a shame that his ideas weren't around decades before when we lost so many small family owned parks. Will's philosphy turned what many thought was their weakness (small family owned and operated) into their greatest strength.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012 1:43 AM

Coaster Rider X said:
Because people still show up at their gates and fork over the money.

Of course they do, that's not the point. Parks don't score the same good karma points that HW does. We all know the price of the drinks is rolled into the ticket price.

If that weren't enough, ask HW how their per cap spending was actually up after they went to "unlimited soft drinks."

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Saturday, June 23, 2012 4:36 AM

Jeff said:

Can't understand why every park doesn't do this.

I don't think it's that simple. I think the advantages and disadvantages need to be carefully weighed on a park-by-park basis to find the optimal profitability and guest satisfaction. While I'm not saying it wouldn't or couldn't work, it might not work as easily at a much larger and heavier traffic park like Canada's Wonderland, Kings Island, or Cedar Point. The first image that pops in my mind is a hot July Saturday / Halloweekends Saturday, where the free drink lines work as a disadvantage to park guests.

I imagine there would be guests that would rather hand over the $4-5 for the drink than wait in a long line. I suppose they could offer a $4 Quick Quench Pass, where a guest indirectly pays for their drink a second time, but I'd still chalk that up as a disadvantage.

But, let's look at what Cedar Fair is doing. I've argued for years that Cedar Fair needed to try and test more promotions in their parks. Under new leadership, they're doing exactly that, and I'm cheering inside. We have the deep Platinum Pass discounts being tested at Cedar Point with free soft drink offers, and the addictive Fun Perks program at Kings Island, which is giving away free drink wrist bands among other rewards. Kings Island is also offering $5 wrist bands for unlimited 20 oz drinks for all guests -- no need to carry around a mug; you get a new paper cup each time. I wouldn't be surprised if Cedar Fair offers "free soft drinks" at a select park in the near future as a test. And I think this is exactly the approach they and every park should take.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012 7:39 AM

Have you even been to HW? There are no drink lines. It's self-serve. You're making a strawman.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012 7:59 AM

When this program was in its 'pilot' stages, they were charting unknown waters. What was to be a 'value' for guests, to separate HW from nearby IB and KK overnight turned into a marketing dynamo.

However, pitfalls arose, and there were a few seasons of tweeking, such as smaller cups, ice production, better trash can liners, more trash, but guests never see those issues. Volume business is always good.

Bottom line was that the HW per caps rose, as the dollars for fountain drinks were diverted to games and retail. And as a true bonus, and I heard this from the family in person, their bottled beverage sales really increased.

For HW, this works. For most of us, well telling owners to make the jump is discussed, but never really takes shape. But, its always being thought of, trust me.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012 9:41 AM

Agent Johnson said:

Yeah, ditto. Every park has a 'Plan B', and there is no need to have a press conference.

No press conference ... no press release. We posted a single notice on our Facebook page (some people would prefer to reschedule a trip in this sort of situation) as a non-aggrandizing FYI, but that was it.

The blog post referenced at the start of this thread came about because ThemeParkFoodie follows our F&B director's personal twitter account. He was proud of his team's handling of the Plan B and had tweeted about it. The blogger picked up on it and sent me some follow-up questions.

This boil advisory was much easier to get through, thanks to the late Will Koch's insistence that we have our own water tower (the big yellow ball in the sky). Although we needed to bring in potable water for drinking, cooking and cleaning, we had a ready supply of flushable water. (Several times in the past, we've had to form bucket brigades for the bathrooms - didn't send out a news release then, either!)

Thanks, Paula

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Saturday, June 23, 2012 10:14 AM

I feel your pain, Paula. Since we moved into our house a few years ago, we've had 11 water main breaks on the street. It's awful trying to get through that with 2 people and 3 dogs. I can't imagine a park full of people. :)

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