There are many things that contribute to the success of a leisure attraction – design, marketing, maintenance, safety, financial programs, food / beverage and retail programs. However, the most important factor in making sure all of these items function at peak is visible management.
Management of a leisure attraction needs to be observed by both guests and employees. Ask any major theme park manager (that is worth his or her salt!) and they will tell you they log many miles circulating throughout the park on a daily basis. If they don’t, they should. This visible presence is important because it reinforces an attitude of professionalism and oversight to both guests and employees. Managing a major leisure attraction, for a General Manager, can be compared to being the mayor of a city. The guests are the citizens and within the leisure attraction you have fire, safety, security, restaurants and, in certain cases, lodging and all other ancillary supporting entities to make the property function. In order to properly manage, visibility from the most senior level throughout the hierarchy presents an air of professionalism and security to the attraction.
Not only is it important to see and be seen, but it is important to know your employee base. When senior managers can walk through an attraction and speak to their employees on a name by name basis, it builds a stronger management / employee base which is translated directly to the guests thus initiating better customer service.
When you boil it all down, the attraction business is simply people serving people. The major package goods companies would kill to be able to have the opportunity to come face to face on a daily basis with their consumer base! They have to go through several layers to get their product out to the consumer with no immediate feedback. For the leisure attraction business to come into contact and converse with its consumers/guests, all we have to do is go out to the turnstiles in the morning and greet them.
When I was starting in the theme park industry, it was commonplace for all of management from the supervisory level upward to dress in shirts, ties and nametags. I can remember guests reacting positively to the dress when we came in direct contact with them. This dress helped visibly identify management to both the employees and the guests when they needed assistance. Through the years, attractions have become more casual and, quite frankly, it is difficult in a number of systems to differentiate senior management from seasonal employees. Again, this is difficult for both the employees and the guests.
People like to know who is in charge. People like to see those in charge (management) professionally present themselves. When management is handling a situation for a guest, I can tell you from personal experience that the problem is more easily solved if management “looks the part”. Think about a personal situation in which you have been which required management attention. Weren’t you more comfortable and satisfied when management appeared authoritative and properly dressed? I know I was.
Just last week I went to the bank. The teller was dressed in a sloppy polo shirt and jeans and was semi-shaven. I thought as I conducted my banking transaction what a poor image this person reflected on the bank. When I asked if it was dress-down day, the manager on duty (who did not look much better than the teller) indicated the bank was relaxing their dress code. Personally, I want people handling my money to look responsible. They failed the test. I haven’t returned to that bank.
I am a believer that management should differentiate itself and identify itself in a manner that is easily recognizable and visible to both parties. As you read this and you reflect on your own management’s visibility within your attraction, I challenge you to consider escalating your management’s visibility through more professional management attire. (I have observed through the years, particularly as the concept of “casual Friday” grew – which incidentally is now receding - that in my opinion casual dress for management breeds casual work for all employees.) If you accept this challenge, I would enjoy hearing from you as to the impact this had on your organization. I can assure you that identifiable, visible management will improve the guests experience and the employee’s performance.