by Heather M Eichenbaum Esq
Whether print, television, radio or web, parks must always consider disclosures in their advertising. Promotions usually have limitations on time or quantity available. Legally, without disclosures of such restrictions, you may be bound to honour your advertising promises long after you intended a promotion to expire.
For instance, if you are offering “Christmas” pre-sales of discount-priced passes or tickets for next summer, you may want the promotion period to end on December 25. This end date must be clearly stated in your advertising.
Similarly, if you are offering two-for-one admission, but the offer is valid only on weekdays, this, again, must be clearly stated in your ads. Without disclosing the restriction, you may find yourself honouring two-for-one admissions on one of your busiest weekends.
Other restrictions, such as limitations on the number of discount passes a single patron can purchase, are also important to specify. Although you may not be overly upset if a guest attempts to purchase a quantity in excess of your planned promotional limit, you can run into problems if you have a limited number of the item available and run out due to that large purchase.
This is particularly true with promotional giveaways. For instance, offering a free plush item with a book of tickets may seem like a nice incentive – until one big spender cleans out your supply. You will either anger those who follow when you have no plush left to give, or you will have to substitute a more expensive item to keep patrons happy. Thus, always ensure that your advertising makes clear that promotional items are limited, are “one per customer”, and specify, “while supplies last”.
Specifically with regard to giveaways, always state in your advertising that substitutions may be made for the advertised item. If you have special-ordered a park-themed plush to give away with season pass purchases, you can be liable for false advertising that plush give-away if you do not specifically state that you reserve the right to give a different item instead. If you do run a promotion and run out of the offered item, attempt to offer an alternative to those that continue to ask for it. Although not legally bound to do so if you have clearly disclosed all limitations within your ads, nothing can hurt a park more than negative publicity such as that generated by an accusation of false promises.
In sum, giveaways or discounts can go a long way toward public perception of your park, if backed up by honest, clear advertising. Disclosure of any and all restrictions on promotions is a necessity to not only keep patrons happy but to protect your park from turning a revenue-generating promotion into a costly mistake.
Heather Eichenbaum is an attorney with Spector Gadon & Rosen PC, located in Philadelphia, New Jersey and Florida. Clients include Six Flags, Steel Pier, Gillian’s Wonderland, Holiday World and Reithoffer Shows. If you have a question for a future column, Heather can be reached at +1 215-241-8856 or firstname.lastname@example.org