Feasibility Analysis
Design Masterplanning
Operations Planning

“At ITPS…Fun is a SERIOUS Business!" 

Keeping Faces Fresh
How to Keep Your Valued Staff Motivated
by:  Shawn M. Haas

It’s the middle of the year and your facility is in the midst of your busiest season. However attendance is up, but sales are holding flat to last year at this time. Sales were even higher during the first part of the year. So what is the problem? Not the right product mix? Prices too high? Poor Economy?

More than likely it’s your staff. Not that they aren’t your best employees, but they are getting tired and lacking motivation. Remember their first week on the job? The employees were excited to start a new job, or begin a new year. What was it then that made them so energetic and motivated to want to even come to work? It was new. Everything was new. New job, new friends, new responsibilities. It was fun. Now it has just become what everyone knows to be the worst four-letter word in history. WORK.

Work is not fun. Work is not enjoyable. Work is repetitious. But it was fun and enjoyable at the beginning for our employees. So why can’t work be fun? We do not work in a factory churning out tires. We provide fun and we work in a fun environment. This is a place for our visitors to have a good time and enjoy getting away from the realities of work. So why can’t our employees have a good time as well? It is a lack of motivation.

Management sometimes forgets that one of the easiest ways, yet the most challenging, to increase sales is keeping the staff motivated to do their best at their job. The first question is, what can be done to motivate your staff? The following is just a sampling of motivation techniques that are being utilized around the industry.

Employee Recognition

One of the simplest ways to motivate your staff is to let them know that they are doing an excellent job. Not only by just telling them, but showing them as well. This can be accomplished through what many employers do, an "Employee of the Week" program. (Depending on your operation, this can be done weekly, monthly, etc.) Recognition could be in the form of a plaque or a photo placed where the other employees can view. The employee could also receive some type of bonus for being the "Employee of the Month": movie passes, gift certificates, their choice of an item work 2000 tickets from your redemption center. If you do any ticket trades with other local facilities, use those as incentives. The cost to you is minimal. You gain by having something to give your employees and also, you get additional visitors to your facility.

Employee parties

Entertainment facilities are the perfect venue for parties. In fact we cater to parties. Why not have an after hour employee night? Everything is already in place: food, games, rides and a sound system. What else is there to having a party! If your facility does not have the ability to prepare food, then do a trade with the local pizza parlor. Be creative. A facility I know invited me to see their employee party recently. They did a ticket trade for the majority of their party as well as trading for the rental of a dunk tank. Management of the facility "volunteered" to be dunked. Employees paid a dollar for three attempts. The money was placed in a prize drawing that all the employees were entered in.


Competitions can be a part of an employee party or an event all of its own. There are facilities out there that hold employee Olympics. These Olympics can have events that you typically find at a company picnic: three-legged races, pie eating contests, wheelbarrow races and others. Or use the games and attractions in your facility. Make up teams and see what team can score the highest on your Skeeball games. Have go-karts at your facility? Those make for a perfect competition. How about Mini-Golf? Or group race games? The possibilities are endless. Not only do competitions motivate, they also promote teamwork.

Sales Incentives

Another form of competition is sales incentives. These can be tailored to the individual employee, highest sales receives a bonus either cash or merchandise. A more effective to approach sales incentives is as a team. Facilities know typically what their sales should be on any given day. So set a targeted sales figure that the staff must obtain and award them for reaching that level.


How many times can an employee keep doing the same job day in and day out until they are numb? If your facility doesn’t already train your staff to work in various positions, you should consider it. Some employees are happy to work the same position everyday and will not want to change. This is ok. These aren’t the employees that need to be motivated in this manner. Others need regular change to be motivated. So train your snack bar attendant on Go-Karts or your video game person on birthday parties. Variety is the spice of life and keeps your staff motivated.

These techniques are great, but this is a business and employees cost money.

We have to focus on the bottom line. We have to work hard to achieve our goals. Some managers and owners may be thinking that "there isn’t enough time to worry about planning ways to motivate my staff," or that "my business can’t afford any of this." Those who feel that way will find that they will have higher staff turnover, poor guest service, and decreasing sales. The point is you can’t afford not to do these things.

To combat those who do not have the time to plan these techniques, assign someone on your staff (or a couple of people) to facilitate and coordinate. You will be surprised at how many people will want to help.

Those who do not feel they have the money available should recall from earlier the facility who used ticket trades to get most of their party funded.

Those who are focused only on the bottom line do not see that the actual bottom line of the business is not actually in the financials, but it is your staff. They are there dealing first hand with your visitors. Employees have the power to make or break your operation.

Now is this all really effective? What kind of results will I receive?

The littlest things are more effective than anyone can ever realize. There are some employees that just want to know that they are doing a good job and that their manager appreciates the work they are doing. Others enjoy parties since it gives them an opportunity to have fun and actually get to build friendships. And though it may not seem like much, many employees enjoy something as small as a free lunch.

And the results will appear instantly. Not only will you see your staff having fun, you will see them more motivated and happy to be at work. I went back to the facility (I mentioned earlier that held an employee party) the next day and was surprised at the staff. Those who attended were smiling and genuinely happy to help their visitors. (A week earlier the same staff looked tired and bored.) They talked about the party and the fun that they had. The smiled and welcomed the visitors and it was once again like they were on their first day. It actually surprised everyone in management at the facility how much of an effect the party had on the staff. It was well worth the effort.

Motivation is led by example.

An unmotivated manager is the most destructive to your staff’s morale. If your manager is presenting a picture of gloom and doom, so will your staff. It is essential that managers show enthusiasm and excitement in their position. An excellent manager will work daily with their staff. Work side-by-side serving your visitors. This is a big way to motivate your staff. A manager who sits all day in the back office and never helps shows the staff they do not care about the operation and more importantly, the staff. Employees who see their manager out there on the floor cleaning tables or cooking a pizza know that the manager understands what the employees are going through. And also, they respect the manager for being there. This motivates them to perform better.

Now it is time to try to challenge and motivate your staff back to the levels that were there at the beginning when your staff was new. Lead by example. Show that you value your staff and will reward them when they are performing well. Follow these suggestions and get the staff motivated again. This will help to improve your operation!

Feasibility Analysis - Design / Masterplanning - Pre-Opening Operations Planning - Management

International Theme Park Services, Inc.
International Theme Park Services, Inc.

Contact ITPS

2195 Victory Parkway
Cincinnati, Ohio 45206
United States of America
Phone: 513-381-6131