Maja Peterson is at home on the front lines of Tivoli Gardens.
“I’ve been visiting Tivoli since I was a little girl,” she says. “I still remember laughing with my sister while riding the rides, the smell of popcorn, and the beautiful colored lights that filled the gardens at night.
Those memories have led Peterson to create further joy at the iconic park in Copenhagen, Denmark.
“I applied to Tivoli because I wanted to know that I would be helping people create happy memories and experiences that they would always have with them, just like me,” says Peterson, who has spent six years in the park’s business-to-consumer sales department, where she sells entrance tickets and annual passes.
Ellen Dahl, communications manager for Tivoli Gardens, says she believes front-line workers are the “backbone” of parks and attractions.
“Your front-line employee represents your brand and everything your brand stands for,” Dahl says. “[For guests], a front-line employee has the power to make their day perfect—or perfectly awful.”
Factors such as admission prices, food costs, queue-line lengths, and ride closures can impact visitor satisfaction. A way to exceed expectations can be the friendliness, helpfulness, and the positive attitudes of front-line employees, like Peterson, who enjoy giving advice on dining options, rides, and shows.
Both Tivoli Gardens and Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pennsylvania, gave Funworld a look into how their front-line staff are empowered to provide positive interactions with guests.
Service with a Smile
Nick Riccio, assistant area supervisor for ride operations at Knoebels, says he has a simple mission on the job: “Service with a smile and making our guests safe and very happy. We want them to leave happy and with a great impression of the park, hoping they return.”
Knoebels front-line employee Joseph Davis Jr. stresses the service front-line workers provide should be consistent. Davis says he thinks many problems can be avoided when all seasonal employees are on the same page regarding parks’ rules and ride regulations. In addition, he offers straightforward advice.
“Breathe. Nothing is as bad as it seems. You choose to work here. No matter where you are, you’re making money and helping someone else make memories. Leave the rest in your car!” Davis says.
Stacy Ososkie, Knoebels’ public relations director, sees the positive impact these front-line workers have on guests.
“One of the most impressive occurrences I’ve witnessed is our team’s ability to recognize repeat or longtime visitors,” she says. “Our guests seem to appreciate that connection and, in turn, seek out longtime team members. We’ve had instances when groups have made T-shirts for their favorite ride operator!”
Supporting Front-line Employees and the Payoffs
For these workers to impact a guest’s experience, Knoebels and Tivoli Gardens say employees need to have not only the support of park management and daily feedback on their success, but proper training as well.
“Your front-line workers build guest loyalty so that visitors not only visit again, but also recommend your facility or service to others,” says Dahl with Tivoli Gardens. “This is good for business. But for them to be able to represent your brand and provide that extra something in the meeting with each guest, you must provide the proper training and day‑to‑day feedback. It’s important that there is time to train employees and that there is time to pay attention to each guest.”
Katja Lohmann, Tivoli’s head of customer experience, says she believes the park’s introductory training program, where new employees learn how to provide exceptional customer service, plays an important role in empowering front-line workers.
At Knoebels, a portion of the park’s rehire and new-hire orientation focuses on park happenings, but Knoebels decided to take that to the next level.
“Typically, our seasonal team finds out about major park additions at the same time as the general public. However, this season, the Knoebel family decided to share the announcement of our new-for-2019 ride with returning team members first, as a thank-you for their dedication.”
Jon Anderson, Knoebels’ human resources director, sees synergy between two groups of front-line employees in different stages of life.
“[Students] and senior citizens are the two major populations that make up our team,” he says. “Combining those two populations in our departments makes a strong core—they make each other better. The seniors share wisdom and respect, and school-aged team members share their energy and fresh perspective.”
Positive Employee Atmosphere
The benefit of management support can be seen by front-line workers who not only effectively engage with guests and provide satisfying experiences in the parks, but are also happy in what they’re doing and develop a strong fellowship.
“I want to make Tivoli’s guests happy, make a positive difference, and provide a unique experience for them,” says Mark Abildgaard, a ride operator at Tivoli Gardens for the past seven years. “Amongst the ride operators, we have a strong team spirit and are good in helping each other. If one employee has a bad day, then the others will help that employee. We are almost like a family.”
This team camaraderie seems to be a crucial factor for all effective front-line workers, like Peterson at Tivoli Gardens’ front gate.
“Tivoli is such a unique place to work,” Peterson says. “I have camaraderie and a bond with my colleagues that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. I believe it’s because we lean on each other when things get hard and share experiences with one another that no one else can relate to.”