Trace horses25 November 2018
/ by Aldo Avancini /
The guest’s experience at a park begins even before passing through the gates, and involves a variety of aspects. Aldo Avancini invites us to reflect on this and on how nothing should therefore be underestimated by those who manage the structure.
In one of my previous articles, I hinted at the ‘well-being’ of guests inside a park, and some readers asked me to expand on this concept, which is in fact hard to identify and define. I will thus respond to these requests by starting from the very first contact with the park, which can be ‘ethereal’ (the website is easy to browse, the answers to guests’ most frequent questions are clear, defined and limited to the essential, and so on) or ‘physical-operational’ (finding the park and entering the car park).
In a situation of heavy traffic or for foreign visitors, how important are clear, correct and continuous signs? Some may answer that these days with mobile phones that will soon be able to make you even a coffee, such accuracy is no longer essential. No, I don’t agree. Because I am a possible/probable guest and I want to be treated as such even before arriving at the park. I cannot and do not want to be considered simply as a future economic resource or a financial donor!
I therefore consider it important that the park, through appropriate signs, leads its guests to its location. But how detrimental is a situation where, after following the directions for park X, we come to a junction where the signs for the park suddenly disappear? And what about the sequence “Park 5 minutes away”, “Park 3 minutes away”, “Park 1 minute away” and then “Park 5 minutes away” again?
And then the ticket machine in the car park dispensing tickets that simply state “Please pay at the ticket office before leaving”? What then if there were a real operator at the entrance, in the flesh, smiling and in a clean and pressed uniform (because he or she is the guest’s first contact with the park), saying thanks “for choosing us”, as well as “I hope you spend a wonderful day at our park”, giving out a program, a map, a list of shows and anything else while at the same time (but elegantly) taking payment for the car park?! Don’t you think that this second solution gives from the outset a perception of higher quality on offer?
I also need to dedicate a few words to the toilets. There is an understandable reluctance among guests to ask where the toilets are, but also, alas, a less understandable – indeed inexplicable – attention by parks in not making their location clear with appropriate signs. Perhaps a course on the principles of thermodynamic physics would be helpful? The fact that no reaction can take place with 100% efficiency, and that therefore various types and sources of ‘waste’ are unavoidable?
All these considerations are part of the daily experience at parks; but in a situation such as the current one in which the number of parks managed directly by their owners is falling, and management is based fundamentally on economic and financial aspects, who will be responsible for such matters?
I myself remember the age when quarrymen worked (by shovel and spade, without mechanical equipment) in riverbeds, and then rested on the loaded cart pulled by a horse. As a child I often noted that there was also a foal without a load, trotting alongside the cart. Not understanding what it was there for, I once asked what its purpose was. I was told that this was a “trace horse”. That is, the draught horse pulled the cart, with a splinter bar joining the foal alongside, thus letting it learn how to best pull the load for when itself became the draught horse.
In recent times we have seen plenty of draught horses, but the question arises: “Are there any trace horses still around?”.
Taken from Games&Parks Industry November 2018, page 92
Ing. Aldo Avancini / Proposta Srl / email@example.com