Guest Service Basics: Three Fundamental Elements of Great Guest Service

Keep our guests happy, smiling, and coming back. As attraction operators, we're all concerned about our guests and how they feel about their time with us. We want our guests to have an amazing experience, to tell their friends, and to return time and time again. Unfortunately, sometimes things go wrong. Rides breakdown, bad weather ruins the day, and other outside factors that are beyond our control contribute to a negative guest experience. How we choose to treat our guests during unfortunate situations can make the difference between being in business...or going out of it. If we fail to maintain a positive relationship with our guests, they may begin to feel unwelcome, loose trust in our brand, and stop coming.  When we fail to continue the basic components  of guest service during both the good and the bad times, everyone looses.

Here are three of the primary components of great guest service that should be part of any successful service-centric culture:

Welcome Them In. When guests visit, it's important to make them feel welcome. I like to say that it is as if you are inviting a beloved family member into your home for the very first time. Courtesy matters.

  • FIRST TIME VISITORS: "Welcome! We're so glad to have you."
  • RETURNING PASSHOLDERS: "Thanks for being a part of our family. Welcome back!"

Understand Their Needs.  I remember how I used to feel on a first date. I wanted everything to go I planned things out, spoke clearly, listened, and acted in a very careful, sensitive manner. I wanted to make a great first impression and to ensure that there was a second date! It's the same with our visiting guests. We want to impress them and we want them to enjoy their time with us. However, when something goes wrong, we need to be able to communicate, make adjustments, and above all, be empathetic.

  • EMPATHY: "I definitely understand why you are upset.  Please allow me to make it right."

Make Them Feel Comfortable.  I do not like to drive in unfamiliar places--especially at night. For first time guests, visiting a new attraction, theme park, zoo, or other institution  can be a lot like driving in unfamiliar territory. It can be a bit uncomfortable. Our guests may need help finding an attraction or exhibit, determining the next show time, or locating the nearest popcorn cart. We need to be attentive, observant, and ready to go above and beyond to provide outstanding guest service.

  • PROACTIVE:  "Hello. May I take the picture for you so you can get in there with your family?"
  • AMAZING:  "Hey dad, let me take that picture so you can get in there with your family."
  • ENGAGED:  "I saw how excited you got when you saw the baby Lemur. Would you like to hold him?"

The words and actions that I have shared above are not complex and they don't take a lot of resources. They do, however, come with a big payoff. Happy guests who have a much more enjoyable experience. As leaders, we can manage the guest experience with our own words and actions, always leading by example, speaking of the behaviors that we want our teams to emulate, and rewarding those who exemplify the desired behaviors.


"Your smile will give you a positive countenance that will make people feel comfortable around you."

-Les Brown