The following three-part story is meant to be more of a tale of how Operations and Marketing could work together better to create a more enjoyable experience for customers. It just so happens that these stories all happened to me on the same day at the same park. My disclaimer is that overall I had a fantastic day; I would like to go again sometime; and, Volcano Bay has hopefully started to work through some of these kinks.
For my birthday last month, my Birthday Twin Bestie and I went all out at Universal’s Volcano Bay. It was an amazing experience, but there were a few hiccups along the way from grumpy people with no reason to be grumpy, grumpy people with reasons to be grumpy, and a reason for which I was grumpy but got over it. Everyone’s grumpiness tied to the current disjointed actions between the Operations of the park and how it was marketed.
But before this sounds only like a gripe fest, something that was great marketing and really worked in our favor was the fact if you stay on property, you can get into the park an hour early. So that was awesome and well worth it, especially after we found out how crazy it was to get into the park if you weren’t staying there. My bestie had rented a cabana for the day, which we used as our base while riding the water rides, relaxing for a moment to catch our breath, or taking shelter from a typical Florida summer rain shower. We were able to leave our clothes, shoes, and other belongings inside the cabana while we rode the park’s rides and the hula music swayed. By renting the cabana, we had access to our own server for food and drink orders, and access to complimentary bottles of water, towels and a complimentary fruit tray. From the cabana, we could also schedule our water rides with the Tapu Tapu god (stand) by tapping our Tapu Tapu bands against the stand to select our ride times. Did I mention their food? You have to try their ribs… okay, now to the Operations and Marketing Cohesiveness Lessons Learned (OMCLL)!
So we got to the entrance about a half hour before the parked open and had planned to just stand there in the midst of the swarm. We were a pretty big group though, and I’m not sure why (although it was helpful that we stayed to the left of the crowd), but an employee pulled us aside and had us stand in a line that was outside of the clustered entrance. So that moved us to almost the front of that queue!
The wording of “get in at 8 if you stay in property” seemed to be too explicit for some people. Once it turned 8a, there was a woman in a large group behind us who started yelling why it was taking so long. She started to just yell “excuse me” thirty people back and when the poor employee who was trying to scan everyone’s ticket AND give them Tapu Tapu bracelets finally acknowledged her, her only question was “why am I not in the park yet?” The poor girl stared at her for a second, and then went back to work. So the woman started yelling again. The employee then said “ma’am I’m working as fast as I can” but the lady kept yelling. Then my friend who worked at Universal couldn’t handle the belligerence anymore so spoke up and said, “Ma’am, you can clearly see that this is a line and we have to wait our turn.” “I’m not talking to you,” was her response. Geesh.
OMCLL #1: If someone is getting something early, but you can’t guarantee how early, just say ‘early’. “Have the opportunity to enter the park about an hour early…” and have friendly, smiling, brave people wandering around to mitigate such outrageous responses. For other businesses, this means that marketing and operations need to be intimately discussing what claims can be made and what is really possible to deliver. Under-promise and over-deliver!