With loud noises, startling jump-scares, and oversized monsters, haunted attractions can be a high-pressure environment. This, unfortunately, can sometimes bring out the worst in guests. Difficult customers who mess with props, taunt scare actors, or flat-out disrespect other attendees can ruin all of the fun. As a haunt owner, you need to be prepared to handle a variety of challenging situations. Let’s talk about how to effectively manage difficult customers without compromising the integrity of your haunt.
1. Set Rules and Expectations
Prevention is key to discouraging difficult customers from acting out of line. Start by setting clear rules and guidelines for visitor behavior. Make this known through pre-communication (like through an automated email after they purchase tickets or on social media) or signage at your haunt. Post your rules at highly-visible touch points, like at the front entrance and outside of each attraction. It’s also helpful to have your staff repeat these rules verbally before any visitors enter the attraction. That way there is no excuse, and every person is aware of what is expected of them. Make it known that explicit that aggressive, disrespectful, and taunting behavior will not be tolerated.
2. Train Your Actors
Provide staff with comprehensive training that covers conflict resolution, customer service, and de escalation strategies. It’s essential that you equip your employees with the skills and confidence necessary to address various issues quickly and professionally. Organizing training sessions and role-playing exercises during pre-season can get your team comfortable with confidently managing difficult customers.
3. Security Measures
Having visible security at your haunt acts as a powerful deterrent for potentially difficult customers. When selecting a security team to hire, make sure that they are licensed and will resolve conflicts calmly and professionally. Have guards roaming the grounds at all times, and at least one inside the attraction if possible. You can also install CCTV cameras for additional safety. This adds another layer of surveillance, and also provides an unbiased record if any incidents do occur.
4. Conflict Resolution Tips
If you face confrontation with a difficult customer, here are some tips on how to handle it like a pro:
- Listen: Give the guest time to talk and explain their concern. Practicing active listening will help you understand the root of the issue and assess the situation accurately.
- Keep your communication professional: The way you speak to your guests is a reflection of your business as a whole. Keeping your language and tone of voice professional, respectful, and friendly will make the interaction go as smoothly as possible.
- Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to inquire further on the customer’s experience. Raising thoughtful questions demonstrates your genuine interest in resolving the issue. This helps you get all of the details necessary to understand the full picture of the concern raised.
- Offer a solution or compromise: While some situations can be resolved instantly, some may require additional effort. Evaluate your situation at-hand with fairness to determine what is the right direction for a solution or compromise.
5. Document Incidents
Keep written records of any incidents involving difficult customers. Doing this will help you identify patterns and enable you to take appropriate measures to prevent similar situations in the future. Include important information on the date, time, people involved, a description of the incident, and the resolution that was reached.
6. Utilize Guest Feedback
Encourage attendees to provide feedback on their experience, both positive or negative. Then use this feedback to identify any recurring issues and make changes for future improvement. Addressing concerns raised by attendees shows that you are committed to their safety and overall satisfaction.
7. Reacting to Online Reviews
Online reviews have become a go-to way for attendees to share their experience and voice their opinions with others on your haunt. You may come across a negative review that can impact your haunt’s reputation. While it’s frustrating to receive, your reaction also plays a large part in how your haunt will be perceived as a result. Resolve the issue by responding promptly, but also remaining calm and professional. Invite the reviewer to discuss their concerns privately, then learn from their feedback for what to do better next time.
8. Regularly Review Rules and Policies
Your attraction likely evolves and changes with each year, so your rules and policies should, too. Whether you’re adding new attractions, increasing the size of your team, or drawing in more guests, regularly review your rules and update them as necessary to address any new challenges. This is one of the best ways to stay proactive in deterring difficult customers.
Creating a thrilling, heart-pounding haunted attraction doesn’t mean compromising on safety and respect. Navigating the nightmare of a difficult customer isn’t easy, but never feel guilty about putting the safety of your staff and attendees first.
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