Marketing Power Evident in Golden Ticket Awards - News Feeds....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 1:50 PM

First, this is not a thread discussing you opinion on the validity of the Golden Ticket Awards…that has been beaten to death.

Having said that, if you have been following the news feeds the past few days, it is quite obvious that parks use the award as a front and center marketing tool, and peppering their acheivement with press releases and news feeds. It is just kind of funny how an award program that has so little merit in our minds, means the world to the amusement park marketing gurus and how the general public has no idea what is actually behind a Golden Ticket Award.

Just makes me think when I see all of these other “awards” in commercials and advertisements for other products and if they too are like the Golden Ticket…. Who the heck is JD Power anyway?

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011 1:58 PM

The little light bulb just went off in your head.

Welcome to the 'real' world. :)

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011 2:01 PM

'Award winning customer support' comes to mind.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011 2:56 PM

While I agree the Golden Ticket Awards are used as a marketing machine, I'd think they're helping the amusement industry more than harming it?

We have agreed that while not necessarily in the perfect order, the parks being given awards are generally excellent places to visit.

To the person living near an amusement park and thinking it's the only option, these awards might enlighten him/her to try new places in categories that matter to them.

It also may give the parks something to strive for. For example, Holiday World is probably taking extra care that they remain a friendly and clean environment.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011 3:05 PM

You're probably overthinking it in both directions.

It's a wash. It's not good or bad. It just is. It's a very symbiotic relationship. The awards don't mean anything unless the parks acknowledge them and the parks can't throw out the 'award winning' thing without the awards.

See how weird and incestual it is?

Similar to when the park's PR person contacts the local media to do a story about their new ride and then turns around and puts out marketing talking about how all the media is talking about their new ride.

It's a game. Both are only relevant because the other says it is. It's a closed loop.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Wednesday, September 21, 2011 3:07 PM
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011 3:56 PM

That makes sense. But in this game, they're potentially rounding up more customers as a result, no matter how minor.

So, if these awards cause an increase in guests and/or spending, then I'd say they're helping the amusement industry. That could mean that our favorite parks survive longer into the future...

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011 4:18 PM

Maybe. I often wonder if it actually snags new guests. Really, who notices a 'cleanest park' award and then researches the park more?

Most likely it reaffirms to the existing base that their choice is the right one. Or at the very most helps hook someone who was looking to possibly come anyway. Not that customer retention isn't meaningful or anything, but this is mostly posturing.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011 4:22 PM

Actually, that's a good question. Here is a way to rephrase it:

Cedar Point gets to claim that for the umpty-umpth year in a row, they are the Best Amusement Park On The Planet. Putting that message into their marketing material presumably generates turnstile clicks eventually. The cost of that particular message (vs. any other marketing material) is the full-page display ad in Amusement Today.

Is the ROI of that full-page ad and resulting award better or worse than the other things they might have spend the cost of the full-page ad on?

I'm starting to think the answer is: probably better. How expensive can that ad be?

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011 4:46 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
and the parks can't throw out the 'award winning' thing without the awards.

Six Flags Great America: "the cleanest theme park in the world!"

http://www.flickr.com/photos/46609124@N07/6170505628/in/photostream

I knew that picture would be useful one day.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011 4:57 PM

Brian Noble said:
Actually, that's a good question.

Is the ROI of that full-page ad and resulting award better or worse than the other things they might have spend the cost of the full-page ad on?

I'm starting to think the answer is: probably better. How expensive can that ad be?

Probably. I think the overall cost associated with the whole thing is neglible in the big picture. It's a mutually beneficial courtesy. A formality.

CoasterDemon said:

Six Flags Great America: "the cleanest theme park in the world!"

That's merely a statement with no verification or validity attached no matter how irrelevant. It's exactly the point I was making. They can't attach 'award winning' to it.

Six Flags needs to jump in bed with some third party that can 'validate' the claim and in turn take SF's use of it to claim validity of their own.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011 7:02 PM

Interesting comments. Perhaps I didn't articulate well enough in my original post.

My only point is that if you subscribe to the daily ITPS/IAAPA/A.T. e-mail news feeds, I am amazed how many parks are aggressively marketing their awards, just days after the ceremony. I don’t recall so many of these "PR" campaigns occuring even two to three years ago.

I am in the industry, and I am well aware of the marketing “punch” these awards have for PR and marketing folk. Perhaps everyone is learning the PR and marketing potential of getting a golden ticket award and peppering it all over their 2012 brochure has legs.

A few years ago, my park couldn’t give a rats rear end about the award(s). Now, compeeting for a GTA is everything and we send representatives to the event every year, and even being mentioned in a "top 5" list turns into a marketing campaign.

I only make this point as those of us who really understand the system know that it is BS. But talk to the PR people out there and it seems that they are all hopping on the “market the heck out of our Golden Ticket Award” bandwagon. I don’t remember this many releases being released so soon after the event.

Maybe Gary Slade had it all figured out years ago.....

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011 7:34 PM

I don’t recall so many of these "PR" campaigns occuring even two to three years ago.

Part of that my just be "social media winz."

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011 8:02 PM

Brian Noble said:
The cost of that particular message (vs. any other marketing material) is the full-page display ad in Amusement Today.

But they said they're not buying awards. Just saying. :)

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011 11:15 PM

CoasterDemon said:

Six Flags Great America: "the cleanest theme park in the world!"

http://www.flickr.com/photos/46609124@N07/6170505628/in/photostream

I knew that picture would be useful one day.

LOL!!! On a freakin urinal pad?

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Thursday, September 22, 2011 2:26 PM

^Yes, it is constant input up there. Ads in front of the urinals and reminders in them. I'll take the wrap-less Whizzer train, please :) Can get some nice quiet time there!

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Thursday, September 22, 2011 5:54 PM

I think the primary difference now is that there's an immediacy to the marketing from these awards. "Back in my day", you wouldn't have known that Park A won an award for best shows or food until they had signage made to celebrate their achievement/honor. Now, the park can put it on their website and social media outlets within hours of the awards being presented.

Now please get off my lawn... ;)

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012 10:58 PM

A company I worked for, also received awards, for best customer service, and most innovative in the industry. But, what you don't know, is that a lot of the people who hand out those awards are on the company payroll. Or, are in some way connected.

If you look at the amusement park industry as a whole, they are all linked together in some way. There are companies that do PR for all kinds of businesses, and you can bet that those people are quietly in the background, as "consultants" in the amusment park industry.

Just like the auto industry, having a car that was labled best in class. By JD and assocites. Does anyone ever ask who those people are? It's all tied together, for the sole purpose of marketing to a target audience. If we wanted to be legit, (If that's possible) go to an outside source.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012 2:40 PM

Hanging n Banging just asked who those people are. ;)

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012 2:41 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
Six Flags needs to jump in bed with some third party that can 'validate' the claim and in turn take SF's use of it to claim validity of their own.

Floored that Gonch hasn't figured out a quick way to cash in on being that third party. "Six Flags Great America, you just won the Golden Gonch for being the cleanest park in America. Would you like to celebrate by buying ad space on coasterimage.com?"

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