RAPPA MAGAZINE «ATTRACTIONS AND ENTERTAINMENT» №26, MARCH 2019
One for all, and all for one
A system in which employees are improving the functioning of an entertainment center on their own.
Guests are welcomed by hosts. For a Guest, an entertainment center’s host is its manager. He is the person responsible for the convenience of visitors. A good manager works his shift together with the line personnel, welcomes Guests, connects with them, shares his energy, notices small details, adjusts processes, and evaluates the scale and finds solutions for various problems.
Can a manager see everything that needs improving? Probably not. But what he can do is establish a system in which every line employee can evaluate and improve their own performances and the overall functioning of an entertainment center, noticing fails and correcting them on the go. The major task of an entertainment center manager is to establish a self-regulating system of control. With this kind of approach, every employee is empowered to improve a great and complicated organism that is an entertainment center.
Let’s observe the five ways how to establish a self-regulating system at an entertainment center.
1. General chat for employees
We set up a general chat for all employees of our entertainment center in WhatsApp. Our conversation includes 150 employees. This is a convenient tool designed to shorten the chain of information transfer and make the solution of everyday problems quicker.
We decided to set up a chat because many operational tasks initiated by our line employees were being solved for a very long not, or not solved at all. Passed from one employee to another, the task would change to the point of absurdity, the process was taking longer and longer, and the result differed considerable from what was expected originally.
With the chat set up, the chain of information transfer became shorter. Someone reports a problem, all 150 employees see it at the same time and understand it in the same manner. Thanks to the chat, everyone knows what needs the most urgent solution. This allows to solve any tasks and fix any problems.
We had to bring 250 chairs from the warehouse for a banquette. A technical service would waste half a day on a delivery like that. But we posted a message in a general chat, and all the vacant employees brought all the chairs in a matter of half an hour. As result, we didn’t even try to involve the tech service and performed the task very quickly. All it took was to assemble some employees who had a couple of free minutes at work.
Here’s one of the latest messages posted in our chat:
Good day all! A call for anyone who has sport team fan attributes to spare — we need hockey sticks, balls, T-shirts, scarfs, anything you don’t really need…
The thing is, we’re planning to open a sport bar at our entertainment center, and we need sport attire and fan stuff for its interior design. The call was answered immediately: several employees said they were ready to help.
2. Got an idea — get it in paper!
This slogan is printed on a box that rests in the personnel room. By the side of the box, there’s a sheaf of paper forms. Any employee can fill out a form to express his idea: what it’s directed at, why it needs to be implemented, what it takes to implement it, etc. The person who came up with the idea should point out whether he’s ready to start working on it.
Most often, this is exactly what happens: authors of ideas begin implementing them themselves. The administration sanctions it, and provides finances, but the author takes up the burden of organization. Suggestions arise in various fields: Guest entertainment, employees’ performance, quality of service.
When buying a ticket at a birthday discount, our Guests were offered to fill out a form, leaving personal information and phone number in exchange for a 30% discount. Later, when processing the forms, we encountered a problem: most phone numbers were fake — just a random combination of digits.
One of our employees suggested an alternative: a chat bot for submitting personal data, including a phone number. To get a discount, Guests have to send the bot a message with a code, which they receive on their phones. And the bot automatically feeds new data to the CRM system.
3. Guest feedback and working with reviews
Guest feedback is crucial for a self-regulating system. Guests are the first ones to notice weak spots, so make it your priority to study their reviews and complaints.
It is important for the administration of an entertainment center to respond to reviews and demonstrate that whatever a Guest has to say will be heard and taken into account.
In our centers, it is the obligation of the service quality control department to observe reviews left on web-sites, in social media, and in a book of complaints. Employees of this department monitor Guests’ reviews and provide feedback.
You should respond to every review, be it a constructive one or not.
Example of a review
«Last weekend came here with friends, took some rides on the motordrome, all the steering wheels were broken.»
Example of working with reviews
First off, find out what exactly was wrong. In this case, it’s obvious: broken car wheels. Secondly, check if the information is correct. In other words, are the steering wheels actually broken?
If the complaint is constructive, meaning that the wheels were really broken, we recommend to formulate feedback in one of the following manners:
«Thank you for your review! We installed new steering wheels a week ago." or «We’ll take measures and fix everything by ____. The next day after that, you’ll find a certificate of access at the cash registry. If you have the time and desire, you can visit the motordrome and make sure we heard you and fixed the problem. Thank you for helping us improve our entertainment center!»
That means you not only have to fix the problem but also offer the Guest who had noticed it to make sure everything is fine, and you found a perfect solution, or at least an alternative one.
A Guest leaves a complaint about the inconvenient location of the entertainment center. Of course, we can’t change the location, but we can offer an alternative: «There’s a free bus commuting between downtown and our center every 30 minutes. You can use it next time. Here’s a link to the schedule.»
4. Empower line employees
Line employees are working closest to the Guests. They’re followed by line managers, and they’re followed by the administration. In a system like this, information transfer becomes slower with every instance. Minor problems that receptionists are having with the Guests might never find a solution, and every unsolved problem is a blow to the quality of service and overall impression from the amusement park.
Local changes that can be initiated by empowered line employees are important for fixing urgent problems. Guest pleasure and retention depend on such little moments. Speed is most crucial here. You can analyze the problem for as long as you want after Guests leave, but it is preferable that you SOLVE the problem right away. To that end, line employees should be empowered to make fast and important decisions and meet the Guests’ expectations and demands.
A Guest purchases a glass of Sprite at the bar. The bartender didn’t notice that the filler had run out of syrup, so the Guest got a glass of plain water with a sweet flavor. Of course he isn’t quite satisfied with that! In such a situation, the bartender should have enough authority to fix the problem and pour the proper drink without calling a manager or administrator.
5. Complements for Guests
If a problem requires a solution more complicated than a new drink, we recommend to compensate for the negative feelings by offering a small present. There are few compensatory positions in the management accounting system especially for offering complements to Guests.
Usually it’s some high-margin product, like cotton candy, pop-corn, ice cream, one-time tickets, balloons for children, and so on. When a conflict arises, an employee registers a zero cost purchase, offers a complement to a Guest, and only after that can he go and try solving the urgent problem.
6. Sorry, but you’re not right
Some situations can’t be resolved by a line employee. And some Guests can’t be soothed by complements, especially if the conflict is in its boiling phase. In situations like that, administration has to be involved.
We’re not following the classic «client is always right» principle. We have a different approach: respectful relations between Guests and employees. If, after a thorough analysis, we understand that the visitor is not right, we won’t be pandering to him at the expense of our employees and justice.
There a birthday party for children in an entertainment center. Father of the birthday boy behaves aggressively towards him, shouting at him and even hitting slightly. A line employee asks him politely to be more restrained, but the Guest reacts with aggression: «It’s my child, I can handle him without you! How dare you advise me?» That’s what we call an open conflict with a Guest.
In this situation, the Guest is in the wrong. Yes, the child is his son, but his behavior is inappropriate anyway. Other Guests won’t be pleased to see and hear this. The employee calls an administrator, who evaluates the situation and asks the Guest to calm down, or else he will have to leave. After that, the man calms down, but if he continued to behave aggressively, the administrator would have to ask the security service to remove the Guest from the entertainment center.
7. Serve as an example
So, let’s revisit what we have learned about the self-regulating system and the place of the manager in it. Employees have to solve local problems, while the manager oversees the functioning of the entertainment center in general. However, the manager has to be able to fix any issue that he has delegated to line employees. He has to serve as an example for how to find a perfect solution in any situation, such as Guest’s discontent or aggression. Working «in the field», at the same front with the line personnel, is what helps keep the balance between understanding the entertainment center as a whole and understanding every single process in particular.
Pavel Timets, expert in building and administrating entertainment centers, author of Fantastic Park. Entertainment Centers: From Projects to Happy Guests.