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 I overall had a fantastic day, I would like to go again sometime, and they have hopefully started to work through some of these kinks.
So my bestie really wanted to make sure we had a cabana (he’s not a sun or water person, which is why I love him so much because he humors me by celebrating our birthday every year at a water park). He started calling Universal as soon as the opening date was announced to book us the rare Family Cabana (of which there are only two). He called about every other day to ask Guest Services if they were available to rent and he was told that it hadn’t been figured out yet. He called from February to April, and he finally secured one!
After the line craziness to get into the park, the next line was to validate we stayed at a resort. And then the NEXT line was to gain access to the cabanas. Luckily, only he had to stand there and we milled about. He got through it and came to us and said we had to wait a minute for an attendant to walk us to it.
A lady walked by us yelling to her family, “how the #%?! are they sold out!?! The park isn’t even open yet!” Bestie replies, “You have to call in advance.” She stopped, turned around, and started yelling at him. She was told she had to wait until the day of and it’s unfair that he got a cabana when she didn’t. He stared at her. She stared back. She then turned around and started yelling at the top of her lungs about the injustice. Luckily, our attendant showed up and whisked us off.
OMCLL #2 (Operations and Marketing Cohesiveness Lessons Learned): She may have talked to an employee at another park, or a bartender at one of the hotels, or she could have been told by the call center. And she may have only heard what she wanted to hear. Regardless, anyone who has any potential to talk to a customer needs to be on the same page and as quickly as possible. If you have a deep and wide hierarchy, or if it’s just two of you running a business, communication is key. There need to be strategies in place for disseminating information so the same information gets to all clients. You might not think that they can, but clients talk to each other – about all aspects of your marketing.
Tapu Tapu feels like it was created in a Blue Sky brainstorming session of the Marketing team, and then Operations/logistics had to figure out how to connect it all and make it happen. They’ve mostly done a good job, and the data nerd in me was quite pleased with how you had to sign up for the Universal app, then put in your credit card, and then sync your ticket to the water park. These three pieces then talked to each other and the Tapu Tapu bracelet you received after the entrance scanned your ticket.
The Tapu Tapu bracelet was then your entry into lines, and you could also pay for things… but you could only pay if you had entered in a PIN when you put in your credit card. Which is weird because you could totally skip that step and think you were okay to buy things. This happened a couple of times to different friends who didn’t catch it. They had to run back from the bar or store, grab their phone and go through the process all over again… some gave up and just grabbed their credit cards, which defeated the purpose. Why the app developers don’t make setting up a PIN a mandatory field confounds me. It has to be a button that someone forgot to click on the back end framework.
OMCLL#3: Have at least five of your friends/relatives who are not on your development team run through your prototype. They’ll always find your bugs. If they ask you how to do something then you know you need to go back and tweak things. Same with the marketing that surrounds it. If your mom can’t understand what you’re trying to sell or get someone to do, you’re not explaining it well enough.