Posted Monday, April 28, 2003 4:59 AM | Contributed by Jeff
Six Flags Inc. is adding roller coasters and investing in its theme parks in North America and Europe to draw more customers in time for summer. The company will spend $130 million this year in capital improvements after posting a loss of $105.7 million last year.
Read more from AP via Newsday.com.
I certainly don't know what goes on in the rest of the chain, but I can assure you that here in Cleveland, the only thing that will get people coming back is customer service. If they made public statements here that they were trying very hard to improve that, I think you'd get a lot more people willing to give them another shot. The non-enthusiast general public here sees that as the problem, not a lack of rides or poor pricing.
Have you ridden a Toboggan?
If I had something inspiring to say, you'd be reading it now.
Now, I'm not saying customer service isn't important. SFWoA lost a lot of visitors because of its poor customer service, and they're going to have to struggle with that. Certainly poor customer service in the past affects which park people choose to visit. However, what I'm saying is that I don't think improved customer service is (usually) a very good selling point. I think it's the new rides people visit parks for, and not the customer service specifically. That's why ad campaigns rarely mention customer service (if they do, it's usually only a fleeting remark or an "add-on" to the larger selling point) and why the above article focuses on new attractions and spending instead of how they treat their guests.
For what it's worth, I think SF Corporate came down pretty hard on SFWoA for their attendance last year, and I think customer service is one thing they're really going to work on this year. I just don't think advertising that is the way to get people to visit.
-Nate*** This post was edited by coasterdude318 4/28/2003 12:28:40 PM ***
- "I used to be in the audio/visual club, but I was kicked out because of my views on Vietnam........and I was stealing projectors" - Homer Simpson
All Six Flags wants to do is get their figures up, and a new coaster will do that. Six Flags doesn't car one bit if those people don't return next year, they'll worry about that next year .. All they want to do, right now, is get the share price up .. they need to look as successful as possible, as quickly as possible .. regardless of what the long term affects might be.
It's a public company.
Don't *tell* me your going to do something after years of *not* doing it. Just do it. Declining numbers or not, someone *is* still going to attend Six Flags parks. If you improve operating issues, we'll hear about it and if you don't, well we're going to hear that as well. So their marketing focus should still be on what they're building.
Evanescence-My Immortal. Coming to a rock opera near you...*** This post was edited by DWeaver 4/28/2003 12:48:32 PM ***
Yep... that's true... for one year. The cap-ex this year is "modest" compared to what they had been spending, especially around 2000 and 2001. You can sell anyone on anything once with shiny new rides and attractions, but that's only half the equation. Once they're there, you need to treat them well if you ever expect them to come back.
Think about it... Holiday World isn't growing by leaps and bounds because they build coasters every year.
Evanescence-My Immortal. Coming to a rock opera near you...*** This post was edited by DWeaver 4/28/2003 1:59:32 PM ***
And i would agree that i find SFGAM to be the best of the SF parks i have visited but even this park pales in comparsion to Disney/Universal/Busch Co parks and i why i travel to these parks often but wouldnt do the same for any SF park.
"Six Flags doesn't car [sic] one bit if those people don't return next year"
I completely disagree with that statement. There's not a business out there that can last without repeat business, and if a customer feels ripped off, then they're not going to return to that place of business, especially if someone up the road is doing the same business better. I will admit that teenagers and enthusiasts will return for a new ride, but the adult general public will find another place to go, maybe giving that business another chance five to ten years down the road when they have multiple new rides, at which time, said business may have gone under (I haven't been to Conneaut Lake Park in years due to a bad experience, and I used to get a season pass their every year). SFWoA is the perfect example of this. If people on this very site gripe and complain about them, what do you think the GP is doing? The lack of attendance last year proves people are staying away. A few more years like that, and there will no longer be a SFWoA. Of course, they way SF stocks are going, the parent company may fold first. I personally would hate to see the park go under, as I like quite a few of their rides, I just wish it was run better. It's hard to enjoy yourself in a park when the workers give you attitude, there's trash laying around (though thanks to lower crowds, that wasn't as much a problem last year), and rides are not working and/or running to capacity (I have no problem with rides not running to capacity, if the crowd warrants a lower capacity).
If I had something inspiring to say, you'd be reading it now.
I bought season passes for our family three years ago, and was utterly disgusted every single time we went. In fact, last summer we had free admission passes and didn't use them. This summer we have season passes to Silver Dollar City, two states away, but not for SF. Why? Customer service, plain and simple...well, OK, there is Celebration City...
Holiday World has some great employees, but there's comfort in working for a smaller company who clearly cares about their employees. SF parks employee hundreds and hundreds of people, of which whom, many come, work, then quit.
Understaffing can only be alleviated by hiring more people. Let's look at it. If a SF park hires just 100 new employees :
100 employees (100) who work 40 hours a week (x40) and get paid nine bucks an hour (x9) in a 4 week month (x4) for a 5 month long season (x5)... SF has just set themselves back 720,000 in wages for people who feel like they aren't paid enough anyway to stand in the hot sun.
Whereas they can build a coaster that costs 10 million dollars, and will stand for 20 years with routine maintenance to non--routine maintenance (we'll say 100,000 a year max) and where are you in 20 years?
Disgruntled employees - 14.4 million
New coaster - 12 million
But then again, who the hell am I?
Is it the real yellow or the yellow that they had on the coaster cars??*** This post was edited by Homey G. 4/28/2003 3:22:04 PM ***
However, as a public company, they can't go to the shareholders and say "we're going to spend $10 million on better salaries (and more positions), new paint, nicer bathrooms, trees and re-paving etc. But, we don't think we'll see an increase in attendance for a few years" - They'd be laughed out of existence!
Instead they say "We're going to spend $10 million on a new coaster, which we know will increase attendance by 10%". (The actual monetary and percentage figures I made up for the example!).
Six Flags KNOWS that they need better customer service .. they KNOW which of their parks are shabby and run down (after all, we know!) .. but it's just not worth them doing anything about it, since the *short-term* affects are too small.
My point is that most public companies only care about the biggest gains in the shortest time .. even if they are hurting themselves in the long term. Right at this moment, the only thing that Six Flags cares about is the 2003 season. They could paint the parks bright gold, and hand out wads of cash at the front gate, and they still wouldn't see a bigger attendance jump (*this season*) than a new coaster can draw. Don't think about the future, the future doesn't matter .. all that matters is the next quarter.
A coaster will cause a much bigger jump in attendance than anything else (in the short term) .. so this is what they do.
SFInc has dug a hole they are *not* going to crawl out of barring a *major* shake up from the top all the way down.
Evanescence-My Immortal. Coming to a rock opera near you...*** This post was edited by DWeaver 4/28/2003 3:51:32 PM ****** This post was edited by DWeaver 4/28/2003 3:55:59 PM ***
Six Flags suffers nationally from a bad rep for customer service, and until some forward thinking leadership addresses that problem, they will continue to lose money, new rides or not.*** This post was edited by ZBeeblebrox 4/28/2003 4:01:14 PM ***
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