Kinzel: "People have to eat"

Friday, August 8, 2008 12:27 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

kpjb said:
Okay, then... since it's their primary business and the reason people go there, do you think they'll give everyone $5 back if Dragster is down all day? :)

No. But then again, you're not paying to ride Dragster. You pay to get into the park. Better comparisons would be:

1. Would CP expect you to pay when the park is closed? (answer: they might ;) )

or

2. Would a buffet restaurant refund you a couple bucks because they ran out of one item on the buffet?


Honestly, I don't think that the skip's comparison is that unfair. It's still all in the hospitality industry, the same theory applies to any arm of it.

Hmmm. Not sure I buy that. I just don't have anything right now, so I'm letting it slide.


It still comes down to service and value to me, not price. If it takes forever to get a bad meal and it's expensive, that's three strikes. Bad meal cheap, okay. Expensive meal good, okay. Mediocre meal with exceptional customer service, okay. Cedar Fair is offering nothing.

I believe the saying goes:

Cheap, Fast, Good - Pick Two :)


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Friday, August 8, 2008 12:30 AM
Mamoosh's avatar Cheap and fast...like my men ;)

mOOSH (contributing little since 2002!)

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Friday, August 8, 2008 12:54 AM
kpjb's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:

kpjb said:
Okay, then... since it's their primary business and the reason people go there, do you think they'll give everyone $5 back if Dragster is down all day?

No. But then again, you're not paying to ride Dragster. You pay to get into the park. Better comparisons would be:

1. Would CP expect you to pay when the park is closed?


Okay, I just realized that both our analogies suck.

What the skipper originally referred to was that he went to Damon's, decided to order shrimp, thought it sucked, so they refunded that portion of his bill.

The equivalent would be going to Cedar Point, riding Maverick, thinking it sucked, and getting five bucks on your way out the door for your troubles.

Honestly, I don't go to Cedar Point enough for the price of Pepsi to affect my decision to attend, and I get in free to every park in my home state with the exception of Dorney (because CF are cheap bastards that think they're better than everyone else), so it wouldn't make any difference at any of the parks I reguarly attend, either. That's why I try to relate it to different, but similar situations.

Not sure where I'm going here.

*** Edited 8/8/2008 4:56:47 AM UTC by kpjb***


Hi

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Friday, August 8, 2008 1:00 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

kpjb said:
Okay, I just realized that both our analogies suck.

But do we get points for trying?


The equivalent would be going to Cedar Point, riding Maverick, thinking it sucked, and getting five bucks on your way out the door for your troubles.

True. I'll take that.

And if that's the case, then it's not a valid comparison.


Honestly, I don't go to Cedar Point enough for the price of Pepsi to affect my decision to attend...

And I suspect most people don't go to amusement parks enough for the price of Pepsi to affect their decision to attend.


Not sure where I'm going here.

Isn't that the worst? That's why I hate getting into these threads sometimes. :)


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Friday, August 8, 2008 7:09 AM
Maybe if they switched to Coca-cola, the food might go down easier.

Coaster Junkie from NH
I drive in & out of Boston, so I ride coasters to relax!

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Friday, August 8, 2008 8:45 AM
Most parks with good, reasonably priced food appear to fall into one of two categories.

The first group are various small to mid-sized parks. These parks such as Kennywood, Knoebels, Lake Compounce, Holiday World, etc. use this is a drawing card to get people, especially families, to come to their park instead of going to a bigger, more expensive park that has a greater selection of big rides. Some, although not all, of these parks also have a permissive "picnic basket" outside food policy and use the quality and pricing to encourage visitors to buy some park food even if they bring the cooler. Also notice that most of these parks also have parking that is free or $5 or less.

The other group of parks are "destination" parks such as Busch Gardens and Dollywood. These parks are generally highly themed and the food is considered part of the park experience. Keeping the food prices fairly reasonable encourages visitors to enjoy this part of the park experience and the quality enhances the experience as well. Some parks in this category charge more upfront at the gate than most parks with overpriced food.


Arthur Bahl

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Friday, August 8, 2008 8:47 AM
Maybe if the switched to booze instead of soft drinks , people wouldn't care about the crappy food! :)

-Tambo

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Friday, August 8, 2008 8:48 AM
Big business in America.
My car needs to eat, too, pal, so you keep raising the price til no one comes.

But wait, they're giving us Diamondback next year!!!! Who cares that it costs a ton to feed your family while there. Let'em starve, they need a diet anyway, right. Gotta ride that CoAsTeR!!!!

nope.... *** Edited 8/8/2008 1:28:22 PM UTC by FLYINGSCOOTER***


Great Lakes Brewery Patron...

-Mark

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Friday, August 8, 2008 8:49 AM
Ok...lots of thoughts to digest (get it?) since my post last night.

No, the price of Pepsi doesn't affect you...I get that. But the price of 4 Pepsi's, 4 meals, 4 snacks, a few games and some merchandise MIGHT affect you if you were a daddy paying for all of that. And THAT is my issue.

Yes, Cedar Point did drop prices one year and...it is reported...that didn't do much good. Well, if we are saying that increasing prices likely has more impact on the following year's revenue then doesn't it stand to reason that decreasing prices might take a year or two to show results as well?

And, for that matter, we can get back into the "what have they done for families lately" debate. In the past decade there has been relatively little offered that the entire family can do (compared to what they have done with thrill rides). Yes, they have done Camp Snoopy and Planet Snoopy along with the ice show but the ice show is the only true "FAMILY" activity on that list. It is the only thing a young family can really do together.

When I was in Planet Snoopy I talked to some other parents. Did they like Planet Snoopy? Yes. Were they having fun? Well, they were enjoying watching their children spin in circles but I suspect they would have been having a LOT more fun if the whole family was together.

While at the park I was AMAZED by how many young (mid 20s and under) people made up the VAST majority of the guests. I mean, it was plainly obvious. I naturally asked myself...what do THEY spend at the park vs. what I spend at the park? I can guarantee you that the per cap for my family of four was higher (maybe double or triple) than what the per cap for four young people is. Because, I think the young folks are eating minimally for two reasons: optimize ride time and save a few bucks.

Why is the Magic Kingdom the number one park in the world? It isn't because of their "great rides". I wouldn't call Small World, the Pooh ride, the Jungle Cruise, the Country Bear Jamboree, etc great. But, the entire family can do all those things (and many, many more things) together. (Mickey Mouse and the gang doesn't hurt but surely Cedar Fair could do more with the Peanuts characters in terms of family rides.)

And...I understand hotel revenue has been dropping. If families are staying in the hotels...but you aren't encouraging families to come to the park...gee...does it take a rocket scientist to put that equation together?

I think there are people within Cedar Fair who get all of this. In fact, I'm quite certain of it. But, a football team can't win if the coach can't get them to the stadium. *** Edited 8/8/2008 12:52:45 PM UTC by wahoo skipper***

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Friday, August 8, 2008 9:37 AM
What makes it difficult for me is that the parks are buying items in absolutely huge quantities, yet they are charging a ridiculous amount for them. I was always taught that buying items in large numbers would send the prices down, not up.

The other day I stopped for hot dogs on the side of the road and the guy charged me something like $1.50 for a 20 oz. bottle of soda. The owner of the business probably went to Costco of BJ's and purchased a few cases of the stuff, perhaps paying $.75/bottle. You mean to tell me that an amusement park purchasing soda in much larger quantities is going to be able to charge approximately $2.50/3.00 for the same thing? I understand there is more overhead, but enough is enough.

I'll gladly pay a lot of money for something if the quality is there. It's just that very often, the quality is not there.

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Friday, August 8, 2008 10:06 AM
Whenever I visit the Central Florida Theme Parks I'll usually buy a Soda or Two while I'm in the park, but then I'll eat Supper at either Camilla's or Vittorio's Restaurants on International Drive at the end of the day. (I can have a Sandwich, Fries and a Soda at the Theme Park for $20.00, or I can have an :) ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT :) Meal at one of these two Restaurants for $11.00!

Answer my Prayers, Overbook my next Flight!

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Friday, August 8, 2008 10:08 AM
The way I see this, most amusement parks are looking to get the people in with the latest and greatest rides without carrying much for the quality of the food. The major parks can buy thier food at wholesale prices which is fair below retail.

Rob, take your example of the 20 oz. coke. Most parks are able to buy that for around $.50 a bottle at most. The profit margin is at least $2 to $3 at the parks. They have a capitive audience and they can charge higher and higher prices for both the admission and food prices. If they would lower the prices and increase the quality of food then they will see the money come back in spades.

Right now they need to stop raising prices due to the economic situation this country is in.
Someone mentioned that food shouldn't be a high priority in a make it or break it scenario. The fact is that a park visitor is going to eat but they will not do it when it gets so high that it costs an arm and a leg to do it especially when they need to the money to pay for other things. Word of mouth will cause a make or break situation by people telling others about thier experience including the food. When I go to an amusement park, I go not just for the rides but also the atmosphere, themeing and the food. I want good food at a reasonable price but I will not stand for overpriced crap.

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Friday, August 8, 2008 10:22 AM
rollergator's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:

Dave is right that the net effect of the pricing, service and attitude is not reflected in the same year, but I'm willing to bet it's one of the reasons that per cap is at or below inflation while attendance continues to slide.

The only problem is that the year they dropped pricing throughout the park it didn't appear to have any effect. It was quietly bumped back up the following season.


See, I tend to think it was "quietly bumped" before the one-season lag had a chance to take effect. Regardless, increasingly the quality to an acceptable level means you can keep charging the "resort pricing" without people getting too upset. Resort pricing and substandard quality AND slow service, as noted by at least a few people above, is the triple-whammy...and unitholders WILL begin to notice...eventually.

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Friday, August 8, 2008 10:34 AM
rollergator's avatar More "analogizing":

Would a buffet restaurant refund you a couple bucks because they ran out of one item on the buffet?
----------------------------------------------
Let's say you went to "Lucky's Lobster Lounge", where they serve unlimited lobster. Obviously, they're going to CHARGE you. Then they ran out of lobster....they still have the unlimited drinks, salad bar, and dessert bar. But "the main atraction", as it were, is no longer available to you...it's still only one item.


Honestly, I don't think that the skip's comparison is that unfair. It's still all in the hospitality industry, the same theory applies to any arm of it.
----------------------------------------------
Let's say your wife has a guest come into the office and say that their bed was unmade and the hot water didn't work...


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

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Friday, August 8, 2008 11:03 AM

Lord Gonchar said:


1. Would CP expect you to pay when the park is closed? (answer: they might ;) )



Abso-fricking-lootely they would. I had a CF exec tell me this story. A call came in that a guest wanted a refund because MA had closed for a power outage. They were from out of state, and MA wanted to give them reduced price tickets or something like that. Guest couldn't use them, and wanted a refund. Corp offered free tickets. Guest still couldn't use them (note the out of state thing). Corp said sorry, not our transformer, not our problem. So guest went away angry, probably told dozens of people their story, and probably won't hit MA if they are ever visiting Michigan in the future.

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Friday, August 8, 2008 11:37 AM
The problem with the 'next season lag' is that someone who is mad at overpaying this year won't come back next year. So if the prices drop next year, that angry customer won't be there to notice. It becomes necessary to give that person a reason to come back, and the good news for $PARK is that the customer doesn't come to $PARK for the food, he comes for the rides. So what has to happen is that the new value pricing has to kick in during the same year as the debut of $MAJOR_RIDE, so that the customer who was alienated a couple of years ago has a reason to come back and find out that something has changed.

And again, the issue is as much one of quality as price. If I'm going to certain restaurants I expect to pay $50 for a meal. $PARK does not happen to have that kind of restaurant. $10 for an 8 ounce high-grade char-broiled cooked-to-order cheeseburger on a Kaiser roll with all the trimmings and fresh, hot fries is a little high, but not unreasonable. $10 for a 5.3-ounce el-cheap-o food service patty fried on a grill and served on a sandwich roll with wilted toppings on the side in little plastic cups and stone-cold seasoned fries (and an extra $0.40 for cheese) is ridiculous, and $3.50 for a single serving of $COLA is downright insulting.

Fine. Charge me an arm and a leg for dinner. But make the product worth the price. (Incidentally, a Major Chain Restaurant lost my business after last night for violating that rule...)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Friday, August 8, 2008 11:55 AM

Majorcut said:
Someone mentioned that food shouldn't be a high priority in a make it or break it scenario. The fact is that a park visitor is going to eat but they will not do it when it gets so high that it costs an arm and a leg to do it especially when they need to the money to pay for other things.

Lately I'm finding myself to be one of those people that holds off on eating major meals inside theme parks and instead waiting until I'm outside the park to eat a meal. Last time my wife and I went to Dorney, we avoided eating until we left the park and dropped by a nearby Carrabba's. It was inconvenient (even though I love Carrabba's) because we went hungry the last few hours and had to waste time after we left the park instead of going straight home, but neither of us wanted to pay outrageous prices for food that is mediocre at best. Parks are adding rides and making it more compelling to spend the entire day (because you need the entire day to enjoy all the rides) yet they make eating more and more of a chore. I realize the parks have a captive audience, but what happens when that captive audience gets fed up and wait to eat outside the park (like I do)?


RideMan said:
Charge me an arm and a leg for dinner. But make the product worth the price.

Exactly. It's a simple premise. Charge a lot, but make the customer feel as though they're getting something for their money. It's easy to stomach high food prices when the food is good (no pun intended).

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Friday, August 8, 2008 12:03 PM
rollergator's avatar Right way: People have to eat, so let's feed them GOOD food, FAST, and charge what we need to charge to make a reasonable profit.

Wrong way: People have to eat, so let's feed them "Bachelor Chow", take forever to dispense it, and charge them out the wazoo.


The "lag" we've been discussing...can be a few months, it can be a year or two, and it can be five to ten years. In fact, it's all of those - since most of their customers visit once a year, or once every few years. It's my *opinion* that by going Route 'A', you end up with better results in the longer time frames, at minimal cost, if any, in the short run.

"Bachelor Chow" is brought to you by the makers of Futurama... ;)

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Friday, August 8, 2008 12:35 PM

rollergator said:
Right way: People have to eat, so let's feed them GOOD food, FAST, and charge what we need to charge to make a reasonable profit.

Wrong way: People have to eat, so let's feed them "Bachelor Chow", take forever to dispense it, and charge them out the wazoo.


It's a symptom of the overall attitude of the park to the word guest. The word varies from:

"Those nice people who give us money if we provide them with a positive experience."

to
"The dumba**es we have to put up with to get paid."

The loss of parking lot trams is another example of the swing on this definition. They don't make a dime for the park and cost money, but they make a difference in the overall experience. Keep chipping away at all the positives, and pretty soon you will have the kind of park Walt Disney was talking about when he came up with Disneyland (Rideman can probably provide the link to that story)

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Friday, August 8, 2008 1:11 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar I think you guys give too much creedence to the 'lag' as well.

Shouldn't be too hard to see whether or not people are spending more with the lower prices pretty much immediately.

I know, I know. It's also about the lower prices being more attractive to people and drawing more customers in and that takes time.

But it also goes back to serving more people for less...and I don't like that.

I think there's a mindset that says, "Make it cheap to get in and make up the difference in the park."

I'm not sure I agree with that, but I do wonder if there's some useful psychology at play there. I really don't think people are saying, "I'd visit the local park, but food costs too much. Too bad kids, no coaster rides because of food prices in the park."

But they might say, "Sorry, kids. We can't afford to go to the park when it's $60 a ticket."

It goes back to the idea that the majority of visitors don't visit enough to make the price of food or drink the make-or-break factor in the big scheme of things.

I really believe that these large, corporate, regional chain parks have essentially reached the largest audience that they're going to. I say it all the time, but the CP's and KI's and SF's of the world aren't going to do 4 million people a year. They just aren't - anytime soon at least. The growth has to come from somewhere and they've found that food is an easy place to pass on increases. Seems logical to me.


Gator:
Let's say your wife has a guest come into the office and say that their bed was unmade and the hot water didn't work...

She'd probably apologize, offer freebies, offer rewards points, beg forgiveness - a refund of any kind is the absolute last resort for a guest that just won't let it go. There's no reason you can't be nice and still take all of the customer's money. (See: HW)


Rideman:
Fine. Charge me an arm and a leg for dinner. But make the product worth the price.

This seems to be the general line of thought. I wish I could find some major fault in it, but I can't. Who doesn't want a fair shake as a customer? (it doesn't help that we're talking CP and their food is notoriuously bad)

So is this a thread complaining about how bad CP (CF in general) food is or complaining about how expensive it is? And don't say both because while we all know it takes both to create value, I just can't believe that anyone here would accept crap food at lower prices or great food at higher prices.

I still stand by the idea that amusement park food in general is overpriced and of low quality. Sure we can all fire off the handful of exceptions (HW, KW, BGE, WDW, etc), but with hundreds of parks in the United States, they are the exceptions.

If you want to complain about the crap food, I'm with you. If you want to complain about the high prices, you start to lose me. If you think crap food at captive prices is an isolated thing, you're wrong. :)

But back to this lag thing:


Gator:
The "lag" we've been discussing...can be a few months, it can be a year or two, and it can be five to ten years. In fact, it's all of those - since most of their customers visit once a year, or once every few years. It's my *opinion* that by going Route 'A', you end up with better results in the longer time frames, at minimal cost, if any, in the short run.

But how long do we stand around with our fingers in unpleasant places to see if something happens? People keep predicting doom and gloom when parks do things like this and it never seems to come.

Hell, I can predict everyone who reads this will die. Give me a long enough timeline and eventually I'll be 100% correct, but does it matter (or is it a relevant thought) 70 years from now when the last kid who reads this keels over? Look out! Gonch was a prophet!

I get the same feeling from the 'wait and see' aspect of this whole 'lag' thing.

Wait long enough and the natural ebb and flow of things will have CP showing a loss in some area or another. Can we really come back in 2018 and say it was Kinzel's attitude and the quality of food for the price back in 2008 that did it?


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