Communicate all promotions, coupons, and special events to your team – let nothing be a surprise

Everyone loves coupons… well, almost everyone. The Marketing director loves them because they drive additional traffic to the attraction. Our guests love them because, well who doesn’t love to get in for cheap? Our ticket sellers? That’s another story. For our ticket sellers, coupons are often a love/hate relationship. Why? Because more often than not, the first time that our sellers see a coupon is when the guest in front of them presents it at the ticket counter.

This is a bad situation all around. On the one hand, the seller doesn’t know what to do because they’ve never seen the coupon before in their life. They are essentially dead in the water until a lead or supervisor tells them how to correctly process the coupon. Even if the seller has a good idea of what to do with the coupon, the ticketing system may not even be set up for the coupon in the ticketing system. As a result, everyone waits around for the coupon to be feverishly added to the system in nearly real time. Either way, the result is problematic and a positive promotion intent on driving additional visitation ends up a poor first impression because, in the guest’s mind, the front gate didn’t have their act together.

Below are a few procedures relating to coupons that, when implemented, should help to communicate the right information to your team in advance:

Departmental Sign-Off. Coupons should be routed to each of the applicable departments well in advance of the “go-live” date.

Critical Time Path. Before a coupon’s go-live date can be finalized, it is essential for the coupon’s originator to clearly understand the lead times associated with launch of the coupon. Some items that can traditionally be associate with new coupons include additional hardware (canners or dip units for redemption), printing costs, and lead time for the ticketing system’s data entry.

Communicate the Plan.  Front line leaders must also communicate the plan.  Generally, I prefer to release specific addendums to SOP for each major coupon that rolls out. Such communicate should include formal acknowledgement of the new SOP policy and constant reiteration of the plan from leaders to sellers.

Cash Controls. Over the course of my career, I have seen plenty of scams involving tickets, cash, and coupons. In fact, with the onset of smartphones, the potential for theft is higher now than in decades prior. Therefore, operators must introduce cash controls in order to ensure accountability and to keep honest people honest.

Use online for redemption. Instead of requiring your guests to present their coupon (or Smartphone) at the ticket window, require that the coupon be redeemed in advance. Make it a point that the guest must purchase their tickets on the Internet and through your webstore. Be sure that this verbiage clearly states the requirement. You can even use technology such as geofencing to restrict online purchase for guests standing on or near your property…which means that the coupon has got to get you off your couch and into the door.

Have a great week!


The art of communication is the language of leadership.

–James Humes