by Dennis Speigel
There are many things that contribute to the success of a leisure attraction – design, marketing, maintenance, safety, finance, food, beverage and retail. However, the most important factor in making sure all of these items function at peak is visible management.
Management of a leisure attraction needs to be seen by both guests and employees. Ask any major theme park manager worth their salt and they will tell you they log many miles circulating through the park on a daily basis. If they don’t, they should.
This visible presence is important because it reinforces an attitude of professionalism and oversight to both guests and employees. Managing a major attraction, for a general manager, is comparable to being the mayor of a city. The guests are the citizens and within the leisure attraction you have fire, safety, security, restaurants and, in certain cases, lodging and all other ancillary supporting entities to make the function property.
Not only is it important to see and be seen, but it is important to know your employee base. When senior managers walk through a park and speak to their employees on a name by name basis, it builds a stronger management-employee base which is translated directly to the guests, thus initiating better customer service.
When you boil it all down, the attractions business is simply people serving people. Some companies would kill to come face to face on a daily basis with their consumer base! For a park manager to interact with their guests, all they have to do is go out to the turnstiles in the morning and greet them.
When I was starting in this industry, it was commonplace for all management, from supervisory level upwards, to dress in shirts, ties and nametags. I remember guests reacting positively. This dress helped identify management to both employees and the guests when they needed assistance.
Through the years, attractions have become more casual and, quite frankly, it is difficult in a number of systems to differentiate senior management from seasonal employees. Again, this is difficult for both the employees and guests.
Casual dress for management breeds casual work for all employees. I challenge you to consider escalating your management’s visibility through more professional attire – and let me know the impact this has on your organisation. I can assure you that identifiable, visible management will improve the guest experience and the employee’s performance.
Dennis Speigel is president of International Theme Park Services (ITPS), based in Cincinnati, Ohio. ITPS is the industry’s leading, independent management/consulting firm, offering services including feasibility analysis, design/masterplanning, pre-opening operational planning, on-site management, sponsorship & marketing, executive search and business audits.