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Tech Talk - May 2017

Maritime Fun Group Bucks the Industry Trend with No Guest Wi-Fi

Matthew Jelley can’t quite decide if his company’s unique philosophy should be considered trailblazing or dated.

“I think it’s a bit of both,” says the president of Maritime Fun Group, headquartered in Cavendish, Canada, with a laugh.

At two of Maritime Fun’s Prince Edward Island parks, Sandspit and Shining Waters, Jelley intentionally doesn’t offer free Wi-Fi as a perk to guests—a belief at odds with the current technology-forward industry trend.

“We want to encourage friends and families to spend time together and have fun,” he explains. “It’s one of the rare opportunities for them to be free from outside distractions.”

Fortunately for device-dependent guests, they don’t have to worry about getting the shakes for being away from their phones or tablets for an extended period of time. Customers still can use their personal data plans to catch up on work or watch random YouTube videos—if they really want to, Jelley says. Maritime Fun just won’t go “over and above” to encourage it.

“This is our view of what a day in the park should be,” he says. “We’re doing our best to preserve something important to us.”

And so far, no one has really complained. The Wi-Fi request never shows up in park surveys, and customers barely ask for it. In the rare case they do, staff will simply share the reason behind the blackout.

“We don’t make it a secret,” says
Jelley, who stresses the company doesn’t shy away from technology, in general.

For example, Maritime utilizes nuanced point-of-sale and employee-management systems, staff members have limited access to a private Wi-Fi network while off-duty, and the company offers free guest Wi-Fi at some of its other properties, he says. It makes business sense at a location like its Wax World of the Stars Museum in Cavendish Beach, because the Wi-Fi lends itself to photo sharing and social media posts as part of the experience.

Jelley also won’t shut the door completely on Wi-Fi at Sandspit and Shining Waters, either. The company will continue to evaluate the decision and listen to customers, all while keeping in mind that if just one or two vocal people clamor for it, they won’t automatically change a core belief.

“Do we want to spend the money on a network or add a new attraction?” he asks. “For now, Wi-Fi hasn’t been a priority.”

While Jelley feels strongly that nixing Wi-Fi has enhanced the customer experience (his business has seen three straight years of strong growth), he acknowledges it might not be the best call for all facilities.

“We’re serving our guests really well,” Jelley says. “Everybody has to make decisions for what’s right for their market, but we also don’t think other operators should be resistant to doing the same thing as us.”