Maximizing the experience of your waterpark’s guests should be of primary importance to you and your team. After all, waterpark operators exist to provide safe, clean, friendly and fun aquatic experiences for their guests of all ages. Through the analysis of those three years’ worth of survey and reports, I found that waterpark guests typically complain about issues in one of five areas: facility, policies and procedures, experience, personnel and food and beverage. While these categories are not hard and fast, they do give great insight into the mind of the waterpark guest and the expectations they have when they get to your park.
Facility issues guest complain about include the appearance and cleanliness of the park, park signage, and the amount of information posted and how consistently staff convey it. Of course, the cleanliness of restrooms tops the list at any waterpark. Any operator knows the challenges that come with keeping restrooms clean when you have constant soaking wet traffic coming in and out of them all day long. Restrooms should be checked every 20 minutes throughout the day, as well as have a scheduled deep clean and supply stock a few times per day.
Guests also want general park Information to be clearly conveyed a readily available, both at your park, as well as on your park’s website. Park information such as hours of operation, admissions prices, rules and frequently asked questions should be easily accessible and clearly presented in order to avoid confusion by guests. Placing this information on your website will help provide guests with as much information as possible before their visit which helps to keep their expectations in line when they arrive.
Park rules (or lack thereof), coupons and discounts and weather related issues top the list of why guests complain about policies and procedures. “That’s not a fair severe weather policy,” The coupon doesn’t say that it’s not good today,” and “Why can’t I bring in my own floatation device” frequently top the list of complaints heard regarding these three areas. Waterpark operators must strive to communicate policies and procedures in a clear and consistent manner, while also ensuring these policies seem fair and reasonable to the guest. Now, that’s easier said than done, but operators need to be diligent in the development of park policies and procedures.
Guests complain about their in-park experience because of the different water features a park has (or doesn’t have), the number of amenities and the overall atmosphere. Whether the sprayground looked bigger on the website, or more shade and tables need to be added, complaints in this category will really help waterpark operators see what areas of their operation need the most improvement. All comments should be documented so that park management can plan for the future in the areas where guests see their park lacking, whether it’s a lack of a water feature, or shade umbrellas.
Food and beverage issues include the quality, timeliness and price of the food served, as well as the overall quality of service the F&B team members exhibit. Food and beverage can sometimes be the forgotten division within a waterpark operation while operators often get swamped with safety, risk management and “front of the park” admissions. And, since most waterpark operators don’t have a strong F&B background, they need to ensure they bring on someone with intimate knowledge of food service and menu development to guarantee a successful operation.
Personnel issues tend to top the list when guests complain. Through the surveys and shopper reports, complaints about park team members always came down to one of three areas, knowledge (what to do), efficiency (how to do it) and engagement (why it matters). Whether a team member didn’t know the correct answer to a guest’s question, a guest had to stand in line too long to enter the park, or a guest did not receive a welcoming greeting from a park team member, these three areas will make or break your operation
By evaluating the five key areas in which waterpark guests complain, facility, policies and procedures, experience, personnel and food and beverage, you can hopefully begin the journey of minimizing and eliminating guests’ complaints. While eliminating complaints altogether might be a “pie in the sky” vision, it will be well worth your time to aim high in order to maximize the waterpark experience for your guests.
This article can be seen in its entirety in the February 2015 issue of World Waterpark Magazine at www.waterparks.org.