Park Spy — Fall 2021

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THE QUESTION: Will there be bugs?

For the nature-newbies hitting the outdoors this season there are a plethora of unknowns. Sometimes, that leads them to ask questions that have seemingly obvious answers, like: Will there be bugs? If you spend time outdoors, you know the answer is yes. But we wanted to know how adventure park staff handle these silly-to-us inquiries.

Been asked an interesting question this season? Send it to sarah@adventureparkinsider.com for the Spy to pose to other parks! We won’t tell anyone the question came from you. Plus, if we use it, your park will be immune for that issue.

PARK #1, HI

First contact: Male.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Good question. Yes, there are insects out on the course. However, the likelihood is you won’t see that many up in the trees. Probably just a few ants on platforms or tree trunks.
API: OK, I heard that there are poisonous spiders and scorpions in Hawaii.
Staff: It’s true, they do exist here, but they tend to avoid the course because there is just too much human activity.
API: Oh, OK.
Staff: As I said, the likelihood is you’ll only see some ants or maybe a few mosquitos.
API: OK, that sounds much more manageable, and less scary.
Staff: Yeah, if you’re not used to the outdoors it can feel like there is a lot of wildlife in Hawaii, and there is, but the overwhelming majority is fun to look at and check out while you make your way through the course. It’s all part of the ecosystem.
API: Sounds beautiful.
Staff: It really is.
API: I’m looking forward to it. Thanks!

Score: 9
Comment: Compassionate and clear. Nice job. I feel like I can be part of this ecosystem, too.

PARK #2, WA

First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: I don’t really like bugs either, but they’re really no big deal.
API: I know, they just give me the heebie jeebies, so I’m not sure what I’m getting into.
Staff: I get that.
API: OK…
(silence)
Staff: Yeah, so, like I said, bugs aren’t really a big deal. They’re out there, but not really noticeable.
API: OK, thanks.

Score: 2
Comment: Repeating it doesn’t make it true. Instead, maybe try to give someone some peace of mind when they admit they’re scared.

PARK #3, NC

First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: So, you’re absolutely right, bugs are out there. We definitely get our share of mosquitos and what not, but generally a little bug spray does the trick.
API: Gotcha. Do you have bug spray available there?
Staff: You know, we don’t, but we totally should! But you can get bug spray just about anywhere nearby—grocery store, hardware store; heck, even a lot of the gas stations around the area have some.
API: OK, I can get some.
Staff: Great. I mean, a little bug spray goes a long way for comfort, and it does the trick keeping the annoying bugs away.
API: Great, thanks.

Score: 7
Comment: A little bug spray and kindness go a long way.

PARK #4, GA

First contact: Male.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Well, we do have skeeters, sorry, mosquitos, and they can be a bit annoying and leave an itchy welt, but bug spray does the trick for them.
API: OK.
Staff: The only other thing to be aware of is ticks. As part of the tour, you’ll be walking through a
field and sometimes you can pick up ticks, so you should probably do a tick check afterwards.
API: Tick checks?
Staff: Yep, the best thing to do is wear long pants, which we recommend anyway. Then, after the tour, usually when you shower at the end of the day, just check yourself for ticks. They like hairlines, armpits, body spots without light. It’s unlikely that you’d pick up a tick at this time of year, but doing an end-of-day check always puts my mind at ease just in case.
API: OK, that sounds good.

Score: 8
Comment: Good recommendation on the tick check, as well as tips for what to wear and where to check for the little buggers afterward—and props for mentioning ticks at all. Always best to be up front about those things, especially to outdoor neophytes.

PARK #5, AZ

First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Well, yeah, there are certainly going to be insects in the outdoors. Fortunately, at this time of year, it’s not much of a concern.
API: But there will be some?
Staff: Probably. I mean, in this area the most common insects you’ll see are… (goes into detail on 10 different types of insects in the area, how common they are, if they’re venomous, and the likelihood of seeing them on course).
API: Wow, that sounds like a lot.
Staff: Well, the likelihood is you’ll probably only run into a few flies or mosquitos, and bug spray usually does the trick. You can buy bug spray at most stores. There are ones with DEET, which are the most effective, or you can go with an all-natural spray as well.
API: And I can find that at the grocery store?
Staff: Yep!
API: Great, thanks!

Score: 6
Comment: Holy information overload, Batman! Appreciate the candor about the insect population in the area, but a quick Google search indicates that it’s unlikely I am going to run into a scorpion.

PARK #6, MI

First contact: Male.
API: Stated question.
Staff: (annoyed) Umm, well yeah. It’s outside, so, yeah.
API: OK, are there a lot of bugs?
Staff: It kinda depends on the day.
API: OK, I’m kind of afraid of bugs. Are they bad? Can I do anything about it?
Staff: Ummm, I mean, you can get bug spray.
API: OK.

Score: 0
Comment: Thanks for making it clear that you could care less. This staff member doesn’t get very far with these short answers. #fail

PARK #7, MA

First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Sure! So, while there are bugs, since it’s fall, they aren’t bad at all. There might be a few flying insects like mosquitos, and there’s always the possibility of a small spider but you can just brush them off.
API: Spiders?!
Staff: Oh yeah, they do all our web design.
API: (laughs)
Staff: Honestly? Insects are out there, but I doubt you’ll notice them. You’ll be enjoying the scenery and the adventure too much! But if you’re worried about it, you can always pick up some bug spray on your way here.
API: That’s a good idea. Thanks!

Score: 10
Comment: Honest? Yes. Funny? Yes. Winner? Yes.
Identity Revealed: Catamount Aerial Adventure Park

 

Debrief:

Dealing with questions that we, as industry insiders, consider silly is part of customer service. The trick is answering in a way that provides the guest with the right information—but not too much information—and doesn’t make them feel like they’ve asked something tedious or ridiculous. After all, there is no such thing as a stupid question, only stupid answers.

Here are a couple tricks:

1. Don’t point out that you think a question is silly. Instead, try to answer the question the guest meant to ask. Will there be bugs? Yes. But really, the guest is asking: How do I stay comfortable in the outdoors? In this case, long pants and bug spray.

2. Avoid information overload. Providing excessive details can overwhelm guests who may already feel uncomfortably unfamiliar about the experience they’re about to have.

3. Redirect. Fear of bugs is real. With more people getting out in nature, staff are likely to come across guests who are trying aerial adventure activities in order to overcome a fear. Give the guest enough detail to feel informed, offer some preventative steps to take, and then highlight the fun they’ll have.

If the guest asks a question, he or she genuinely wants the answer. “Obvious” questions are an easy customer service win when handled with tact and kindness.

 

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About Author

Sarah Borodaeff is the digital editor and project manager for Adventure Park Insider magazine. A professional ski bum and former zip guide, Sarah enjoys any excuse to talk about outdoor adventures.

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