I spent the day at Sea World in San Antonio with my family and as we went through the park I searched for signs of the digital and social media age. I was surprised not to find any. In fact, the amusement park today is much like the amusement park I remember as a child and teenager. The focus is on selling the season pass, the end-less refill soda, the gift shop at the end of the ride, and other extras not part of the base ticket price(not that I recognized that as kid). I did a quick scan on Facebook for Sea World and Six Flags and found they do have fan pages, but the pages appear to be more of a bulletin board for information. I didn’t see anything immediately engaging to the fans. So here are some quick thoughts about how amusement parks can use social media to engage their audience and employees better:
Find seven or so themed items that fit with the park and place them in different locations each day. Individuals or groups must find all of the items and submit a picture with themselves and a unique code from their ticket stub via their mobile device. Those without picture mobile may send a text message with their unique code and the location of the item. All correct entries received at the end of the day are entered into a drawing for a prize. This type of game engages both the employees to find hidden locations as well as the paying customers. Customers are not likely to give away the location of the items because it decreases their chances of winning. The concept is similar to the hidden Mickeys at Disney World. But the number of the items should be much less and move each day to keep the game refreshed.
Invite customers to review certain areas or attractions in the park such as eateries or rides. Reviews could be posted on sites such as Yelp, Facebook, or Twitter . Have a social media team setup to scan and read the reviews each day. Pick a winner for a prize! Again, this engages the audience because they are encouraged to more closely examine the attraction and it pros/cons. The amusement park benefits because the review becomes a customer survey loaded with information about what is right and what can be improved. Offer incentives to employees for having positive reviews. This promotes better customer focus and everyone benefits.
Let’s face it, many customers today enter amusement parks with some type of video recording device. It might be a Flip or even a mobile device. So designate an area in the park with a themed backdrop and some props. Have individuals or groups use the area and create a short video (less than 1 minute) about their experience in the park. Videos should be submitted to the amusement park channel on YouTube where other customers vote for the best daily video. The winning video receives a prize. I like this idea because it brings out the creativity in the customer base but creates a free commercial for the amusement park as well. Customers will remain connected with the brand as they watch the videos and vote.