There is no doubt in my mind that you want to provide your guests with the best possible experience you can provide. Because as a business owner and a risk taker, your survival depends on it! The next statement I make is beyond obvious, but needs to be said: Not all your guests have your best interests in mind! I know, shock right!
Here’s one example; If you have an agritourism venue and you have a corn maze as part of your venue, you know first- hand that some people have a sense of entitlement. The “right” to cut through and trample your corn, the “right” to pick and throw your ears of corn at unknown targets across your maze, and the “right” to run as fast as they can through the paths no matter who they run into! I know, my frustration is showing!
Some of these guests have prompted us to take steps to try and prevent the inevitable. We’ve talked about this before, but we use maze netting to line our paths. If we didn’t, the maze experience would be severely diminished by the end of the season. In other words, there would be so many false paths and trampled corn that late season guests would not be able to navigate the maze and enjoy their visit with us. We also use sign boards in various locations to state our rules for that activity. Why? To provide the best possible experience for all our guests. To grow our business!
But since we will all have to deal with those guests who have different goals, how do we do that properly?
Whether it be on your tickets, flyers, signage or whatever, make it clear what won’t be tolerated! Better have it stated to refer to, rather than figure out how to deal with it later. Expect it to happen. And no, we can’t list every offense or possible offense on a rule board, but state the obvious. Common things like running, language, and throwing objects are good. But a general statement that expresses your desire to provide a positive experience for all guests and your right to remove any guests that threaten that goal is also good. The percentage of your guests that want to have a calm, enjoyable experience, far outweighs the guests who want to disrupt. They will find comfort in the fact that you want to protect them and their time at your venue.
Provide enough staff to keep an eye on things. Granted most areas are individually staffed and they will be your eyes. But in trouble areas like your corn maze, consider using “corn cops”. They are there to provide help as well as security. They know the maze well so they can get to the issues quickly and escort both lost and disruptive guests to the exit if need be. Again, it is the minority of your guests that will cause problems, but we want to stay on top of it for the good of the whole.
Consider your alcohol policy very carefully. Most venues would not provide alcohol in any cases, but some allow alcohol when guests rent a campfire spot or even use the whole venue for an event. You may want to look at each instance individually, but when the public is involved we have always had a no alcohol policy. Remember that campfire locations are usually part of the whole experience. When guests rent a campfire spot, they also have access to all your activities. Alcohol usually serves to embolden the trouble makers and now those who have had too much to drink have access to your other guests. Now it has become a threat to your business. Again, if you rent your whole facility for things like weddings and corporate events, your policy may change (or may not). But make sure that you shoot for the best possible experience and safety for all!
If your business is open at night and provides experiences and activities that are conducive for after dark, you are aware that it also tends to attract a different crowd than daytime does. You know what I’m referring to if you have something like a haunted hayride, haunted maze, flashlight maze, concerts, etc. Your typical family with small children that come on those weekend days are replaced by unaccompanied teens and young adults at night. Great crowd for sure. High energy and there for a good time. But car after car arrives and the kids get out and the parent drives off. Guess who becomes the babysitter?! So, watch carefully before anyone enters your gates. If you suspect that they have been drinking before they came, you may want to deny admittance. If they show signs of problems before they come in, do yourself a favor and stop them there. Better be the bad guy early than have to deal with a safety issue later. Liability is a harsh reality. We always welcomed every guest at our info boards night and day. We used these as an opportunity to give information and direction. Also, a good place to do some preventative peace keeping!
So, to wrap up, keep every guest in mind. Stay true to your values. Next time we’ll look at the proactive peace keeping! How to proceed when someone doesn’t follow the rules! Talk to you soon.