Travel columnist on MSNBC discusses his SFA outing.

Monday, July 30, 2007 7:16 PM
matt.'s avatar

depotrat said:
As for how many people pay full admission do you have data on how many people use discounts and how many pay full rate? If not, you shouldn't use that to bolster your argument.


Playa took very good care of this (thanks) but my very point was that there's no way to know what percentage of people get an online discount.

But when I go to my local SF park and I see hundreds of people lined up to buy tickets from the booths I know it's "a lot of people" no matter what. Maybe these people are dumb, maybe they are suckers, maybe they just don't care, but it's pointless to pretend like they don't exist.

And again, it doesn't matter what this one guy just happened to have paid. Everything else equal, the experience is euqally crappy (at SFA at least) if you paid online or full-price. It's a mountain out of a molehill. *** Edited 7/30/2007 11:17:19 PM UTC by matt.***

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Monday, July 30, 2007 7:27 PM

CoastaPlaya said:
But unless every Joe Blow knows about the internet deals and is savvy about every discount, then comparing gate prices and experiences of the two parks IS relevant.

In fact, by doing so he's taking the effort to look at it from the average Joe's POV. Which is the whole point of writing a travel review to begin with.

Now if you don't mind, I'll be taking that 'point' of yours. Yoink!

-'Playa


Playa he says this



When I discovered that Six Flags cost nearly the same as Disney, I expected the value to be close, too.

The fact of the matter is SFA's ticket prices are no where close to Disney, especially with the discounts which around here are on every McDonald's Paper Bag, online and on every coke can just to name a few. I believe one of the big pharmacy chains have discount coupons. SFA has so many different price points it's not even funny. The Big Six Pass, Buy three get the fourth free pay. The Season Pass, Premium Season Pass, General Admission, General Admission with discount coupons, online sales. You would have to live in solitary confinement in order not to know about them. Is it a valid comparison, yes, however his analysis needs some fine tuning. Does it make the rest of arguements invalid, no.


A day at the park is what you make it!

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Monday, July 30, 2007 7:35 PM

Brian Noble said:
No, they probably won't move up within the park, at least not past working lead. But if they do a decent enough job, and get a decent enough recommendation from their supervisor, then someone with a slightly less-crap job, with slightly less-crap hours, offering slightly better pay, will be more willing to hire said ride-op than some other random kid who spent the summer playing video games.

Everything you do is part of your career path. Everything.


I'll agree with that (damn, I'm agreeing with a lot of people today- I must have a fever.) But seeing how things work in the real world, supervisors are more hesitant than ever to give someone a poor recommendation because of fear of a lawsuit. Going back to my retail days, the store manager wouldn't go any lower than "mediocre" when giving an opinion on a former employee, even if that employee was terrible. There are many times when someone will sue their former employer for giving prospective employers a poor evaluation that results in them not getting hired. It sucks, and it may not matter a lot when you're dealing with high school kids that do consider most things "just a job" at that point in their lives but I don't blame people for being a little cautious.

This further confirms my idea that performance-based rewards are the way to go. Do a mediocre job and get mediocre pay. Work with one another to go above and beyond what everyone else is doing and get a little cash bonus. Again, money talks, doesn't it?

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Monday, July 30, 2007 7:55 PM
from what I have heard, Mr. Shapiro has on occasion showed up at the parks with no warning. Rumor has it he appeared at Great Adventure on a Saturday in June last year and was horrified, went into the admin building, and ripped everybody a new one.

I've worked for a few corporate chains, retail & otherwise, including SF when Pittman was the boss, and they all do the same thing - give a warning days in advance so everything will be perfect, and they'll never have to step out of their perfect little executive universe.

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Monday, July 30, 2007 8:23 PM

supervisors are more hesitant than ever to give someone a poor recommendation because of fear of a lawsuit

No problem. You just recalibrate what you expect to hear, and look for specifics instead of generalities. "He was a fine employee" means "a total screwup." But, "I could count on him to pick up slack without being told" gets you the job.

We do the same thing for graduate admissions and faculty hiring.


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Monday, July 30, 2007 8:29 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Rob Ascough said:
But seeing how things work in the real world, supervisors are more hesitant than ever to give someone a poor recommendation because of fear of a lawsuit. Going back to my retail days, the store manager wouldn't go any lower than "mediocre" when giving an opinion on a former employee, even if that employee was terrible. There are many times when someone will sue their former employer for giving prospective employers a poor evaluation that results in them not getting hired.

Now we're talking! Rob understands the game. This is as true as it gets. So let's piggyback that onto the other idea:


It sucks, and it may not matter a lot when you're dealing with high school kids that do consider most things "just a job" at that point in their lives but I don't blame people for being a little cautious.

This further confirms my idea that performance-based rewards are the way to go. Do a mediocre job and get mediocre pay. Work with one another to go above and beyond what everyone else is doing and get a little cash bonus. Again, money talks, doesn't it?


Yes it does, but as you understand, lawsuits talk louder. You have to have a tangible way to measure performance otherwise you face those same lawsuits.

If the job requires something tangible (X number of riders per hour) it is easily measured and able to be confirmed that incentive money was handed out in a fair and just manner.

But what about customer service? How do you prove you treated a guest in an appropriate manner? Is there a way to prove employee #1 was friendlier, more helpful and generally doing his job better than employee #2? How do you show better customer service performance in tangible numbers on an individual level?

All we can do with the incentives is boost capacity. We still can't make the kids be friendly or helpful (or care in general) because that's a judgement call, not a case of cold hard numbers.


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Monday, July 30, 2007 8:36 PM
matt.'s avatar

coasterguts said:
SFA has so many different price points it's not even funny.

And yet Disney is perhaps the most notorious place in the world for having a million price-points in different combinations with different limitations and parking hopping options and on and on and on.

I guess what this all boils down to is that none of us have the hard numbers for, on average, what it costs John Doe to enter SFA for the day and enter Magic Kingdom for the day.

But yet the point still stands, if only a Martian could not know about Six Flags discounts, what's up with all the people who are obviously still paying full price? I mean there's tons and tons of them...ignoring that doesn't really do anybody any good I don't think, for the sake of discussion. Again it's not about what people "could" be paying it's what they "are" paying.

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Monday, July 30, 2007 8:44 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

I guess what this all boils down to is that none of us have the hard numbers for, on average, what it costs John Doe to enter SFA for the day...

Actually we do...kinda.

All you have to do is look at the SF reports & presentations.

For 2006 Six Flags' ticket per cap was $20.47.

That's halfway there, but what I'm not sure of is how this number is figured. I'm assuming it is admissions dollars (tickets, season passes, whatever) divided by attendance.

If that's the case, then we still aren't much closer to knowing the answer because of the nature of passholders paying one price and visiting as much or little as they so choose, people using comp tickets, etc. It also is for the company as a whole not each park individually.

Come to think of it, that's not very useful info at all as far as this discussion goes. :)


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Monday, July 30, 2007 8:52 PM
matt.'s avatar The most useful number would be whatever media adult admission is for SFA (or whatever SF park) and then the median for MK (or whatever Disney park), excluding season pass holders, excluding group sales.

Of course, you get in a pickle because the numbers are so massive for Disney when it comes to people staying there 4,5,6+ days.

I mean if you stay at WDW for an extended time you're looking at $40 - $25 per day for admission, which I'm sure isn't too far off from what the SF figure would be.

Of course, nobody in their right mind would want to spend more than a single day at SFA. So I guess you could call "unfair comparison" but it certainly wouldn't be if SFA wasn't such a miserable park (which brings us back to fixing the park and letting the pricing fix itself. Like a broken record).

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Monday, July 30, 2007 9:52 PM
Matt:

Perhasps you just believe everything you read. The writer of this piece intentionally misled his audience on what it cost him to get into the park to bolster his argument. That makes him a poor journalist. You can accept the rest of his stuff even though you know he bascically lied about his first point if you want. I discount info from folks who I know have tried to deceive me.

None of this may change that SFA is poorly run, but this writers opinion is worthless becuase he is now known to slant his info to fit his premise. Poor journalism and a poor way for readers to get info to make decisions.

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Monday, July 30, 2007 11:39 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

If the job requires something tangible (X number of riders per hour) it is easily measured and able to be confirmed that incentive money was handed out in a fair and just manner.


Throughput is the main way most amusement parks decide if they are doing a good job. At SFA the numbers are recorded, and entered into the computer at the end of the night. The computer does the math and tells SFA and whoever checks it at corportate, that during the operating hours of on the day in question, the rides ran at this percent of capacity. Downtime is figured in there for mechanical, weather and operational issues.

At SFA nobody gets anything for running good numbers, nobody tries to hit numbers. When I worked there if I was at a ride and we wern't running the way we should it drove me crazy. You have rides in the park that pull 25-60% of the number of people they should in a day. The only time I ever could get any reaction is the days I could get my rides to run at close to capacity, then they where more worried that we screwed up and wrote a wrong number because it made everything else look so bad.

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Monday, July 30, 2007 11:43 PM
This is what the article says:

"Without any discounts or coupons, it costs only $17 more to walk into the Magic Kingdom ($67 admission) than into the Six Flags in Bowie, Md. ($50 admission)."

It does not say, "I paid...," it says "It costs," and please note the first five words of the sentence. I don't see where there's any deception.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007 12:22 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Ooooh, RGB lays the smack down! :)

Good point.


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Tuesday, July 31, 2007 5:47 AM
If he had said right there in his article that he paid $34.99 do you think it would have hurt his point? Of course it would have, so why do you think he left it out. Right there is the deception. Do you think he knew that casual readers would assume he paid the $49.99? He decides to compare non - discounted one day admission because he knows that that is the only way his point can be made even though he knows that Disney has no one day discount and SFA has many. If he truly thought that everyone paid the rack rate at both places he would not have been deceptive. He knew that not to be the case. He left it out of the piece and that is deceptive to fit his premise. When I find that I 'discount" the writers views.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007 8:39 AM

TSC 2007 said: the park was working hard to alienate or fire there more experienced emplyees.

You mean all the supervisors that looked the other way while the employees screwed around? If you're the white kid with the buzz cut I can assure you, you were much more a part of the problem than part of the solution!

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007 9:23 AM
depotrat: you are not winning the hearts and minds of the people. It is time to throw in the towel.
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Tuesday, July 31, 2007 9:37 AM

Lord Gonchar said:


But what about customer service? How do you prove you treated a guest in an appropriate manner? Is there a way to prove employee #1 was friendlier, more helpful and generally doing his job better than employee #2? How do you show better customer service performance in tangible numbers on an individual level?

All we can do with the incentives is boost capacity. We still can't make the kids be friendly or helpful (or care in general) because that's a judgement call, not a case of cold hard numbers.


I'm not sure of how to do that but I'm sure there are ways to determine what customer service rep was good for making disgruntled guests feel better and what customer service rep was known for telling the guests to go f*** off. I know that when I go to Best Buy, the sales receipt always gives me a phone number to call to comment on what my visit was like. Maybe that's something that could be used if there is a low-cost but effective way to give customers the incentive to call. By giving customer service reps true motivation to treat customers right, that might get the lousy ones to step up and improve. Again, I'm not entirely sure of how this would all work out but I'm confident someone is getting paid enough money to figure it out ;)

As far as happy employees go, that responsibility falls to the employer. Give decent wages, improve working conditions (a good employee eatery, clean bathrooms and other things that keep them from feeling like second-class citizens are good starts) and emphasize bonuses for exceptional performance- those all seem like good ideas to me.

I wonder if some exec is reading this right now and will bust into their boss' office with some "great ideas" in the near future?

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007 9:45 AM
I dont know about this good employee stuff. Everybody compares Six Flags to Disney but hasn't Disney been in the nbews lately with their unions because of them treating and paying the employees unfairly?

So I dont know why everything about Six Flags has to compare with disney.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007 9:47 AM
I never compared Six Flags to Disney, but since you brought it up...

Spend some time on one of those fanatical Disney sites and you'll hear about a lot of employees that are unhappy with the way they're getting treated by the company, yet if you go to one of the parks you'll find them to be very friendly and competent. How can Disney manage to get good performance from their employees when Six Flags can't do the same?

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007 10:26 AM
janfrederick's avatar I don't know about that. From what I hear, Disneyland is having a real problem finding good employees. I guess unemployment is really low in Orange County and they are literally scraping the bottom of the barrel. They might be able to be a little more picky if they offered better wages.

I'm going this weekend, I'll let you know.


"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
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