Park Spy — Winter 2022

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THE QUESTION: What kind of physical shape do you need to be in to participate?

This question—or some version of it—is a staple on adventure park FAQs pages. Most attractions have at least some height, weight, and/or age requirements spelled out online as well. Not all attractions are the same, of course. We know that some zip lines and ropes courses require a greater degree of physical fitness than others. The point of this Spy Mission wasn’t to call out whether an adventure activity was more or less accessible. Rather, we wanted to see if staff were at least as knowledgeable as their park’s websites. Some were, and some weren’t.

Did a guest ask a question that baffled you or your staff this season? See how other parks tackle it—send your question to the Spy via katie@adventureparkinsider.com. If we use it, your park will be spared for that issue.

PARK #1, TN

First contact: Male.
API: Stated question.
Staff: As long as you are comfortable walking up and down a couple flights of stairs and standing up for over an hour at a time, you should be fine.
API: Is there a lot of standing and waiting?
Staff: Yeah, you need to be comfortable standing for sure, and you need to be comfortable climbing stairs. But we have people that are in their 80s and 90s that do it, and we have kids all the way down to seven years old that do it. It’s something that anybody can do as long as they’re comfortable moving around. They’re not hurried or rushed at any point. They can move at their own pace.
API: That’s great. We are a big multi-generational group.
Staff: We have that all the time. We have groups of 10 or 12 that are all one family and anywhere from 7 to 70, so …
API: Oh, awesome. Thank you so much.
Staff: OK. No problem

Score: 7
Comment: Not bad. He was very reassuring. The website for this company offers a bit more detail about physical requirements and recommendations, though. He didn’t need to give me that detail, but there’s no reason not to send me to the web page for more info.

 

PARK #2, NC

First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Um, so you need to be in a little bit of shape, but it’s not really like super exertive. The main thing is that there are two short hikes, so you need to be able to complete three- to five-minute hikes. The stops are pretty abrupt, so you need to be able to take that kind of impact. Other than that, that’s really the only shape you need to be in.
API: So, we’re like a multi-generational group, with some kids and younger grandparents. Are they going to be OK on that? What kind of impact are we talking about?
Staff: So, you are going from 35 miles per hour to zero. It’s not like—we wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t safe, but it is abrupt. Like, you don’t really expect it on the first one. After that first one, it gets pretty easy because you know what you are expecting. For the kids, we generally don’t recommend that anybody under 10 go. And we do have a weight limit in place—that’s how our stop system is calibrated, so they do need to be at least 70 pounds in order to go. And if anybody is over 250, we can’t send them.
API: OK. That’s good to know.
Staff: (silence …)
API: OK. I think I’m good. Is there anything else I should know?
Staff: Um, I mean you can definitely check out our website. If you go onto [specific page], you can see other people’s experience of it. Um, the whole thing does take about 3.5 hours to complete. It’s [describes number of features on the course]and those two short hikes.
API: OK. I’ll go check out the website. Thank you.
Staff: You’re welcome. Have a good one.

Score: 6
Comment: Her detailed description of the activity and advice to check out the website for more info were great. Her honesty about the more extreme aspects of the experience was also valuable, but I was surprised how nervous her description of the braking impact made me for the safety of my imaginary group. Phrasing matters. I also had to prompt her for more info, and that awkward silence … lost her points.

PARK #3, TX

Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose 0 for general inquiries.
First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Yeah, um, so, um, so our first, um, uh, requirement is that everyone falls in between our weight limit, which is 50 pounds to 250 pounds. And then in terms of, um, physical, like being able to walk and such, we typically say if you are doing the full tour, which is all [# of lines], everyone needs to be able to walk a mile. Um, there is, um, there is one hill after line #. It’s a little bit of a hike. So those are just some things that we say you should be aware of before you, um, come on a tour with us.
API: So, by a little bit of a hike, is it strenuous?
Staff: No. Um, it’s just this little bit of a hiking trail that goes up a hill. And we just ask that if you are not good at going up stairs or you have bad knees or something like that, that you be aware that you are going to have to hike up that one section. Um, but then, generally speaking, the rest of the tour is just walking along flat trails, so it’s, uh, not too bad.
API: Great. Good to know. Thank you so much. Staff: Absolutely. Is there anything else I can help you with?
API: I think that’s it unless there is anything else I should know.
Staff: No, I think that’s all I would say to know beforehand, just to be aware of that.
API: Great. Thank you. Appreciate your time.
Staff: No problem. Hope to see you soon.

Score: 5
Comment: So, um, there was useful information conveyed in this conversation, it was just buried in between filler words (um, uh, so, like), which made the staffer sound unsure about the information she was conveying, which didn’t fill me with confidence.

 

PARK #4, CA

First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: (cuts in) Anybody can do it. Really, you don’t need to be athletically inclined at all.
API: Oh, cool. Good to know.
Staff: OK. Did you want to make a reservation, or…?
API: Not yet. I’m just doing my research and figuring out what the family would be keen on, but they’re—
Staff: (cuts me off) OK, we have some limitations. Children need to be at least 10 years old and weigh at least 70 pounds, and no one over 250 pounds. And I do recommend when you make your reservation that you call directly. [Describes a third-party charge for booking through the website.]
API: Ah, OK. Great.
Staff: OK?
API: OK … Well, thank you.
Staff: You are so welcome.

Score: 2
Comment: “Anybody can do it.” Except, turns out later in the call, that wasn’t completely true. She seemed in a rush to either book me or get me off the phone. Little was done to assuage my concerns about the physicality of the activity. And she cut me off—twice. Rude.

 

PARK #5, HI

First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: OK, awesome, yeah. So, our tour is about three hours long. You would do # zip lines, # sky bridges, and a rappel. There is a short hike in between, at about our halfway point, where you would be walking up a short flight of steps. So, really, we just want people to be comfortable on uneven terrain. The bridges are a little wobbly, but it’s nothing too crazy. And then we do have a weight limit. We require everyone to weigh between 70 and 270 pounds.
API: And the hike and the stairs, is that a strenuous uphill climb or just a little walk in the woods?
Staff: So, the sky bridges vary. For the most part, they have a plank running down the center, and on some of them you are stepping plank to plank, but it’s not too difficult. And then the hike is going to be up some stairs. It’s like 25 small stairs, but in the forest. So they are wood- and mud-created stairs up to our little halfway point where you’ll have a water break.
API: Oh, nice.
Staff: Yeah. And do you have anyone that’s worried about anything or any physical ailments that might make things tougher?
API: We’re just a multi-generational group, with some younger grandparents and kids and things, so I just wanted to make sure.
Staff: Fun. We’ve had people of all ages on our course. Our minimum age is eight years old, and they must weigh 70 pounds. But yeah, we’ve had all kinds of people with us, and they love it.
API: Well great! Thank you so much.
Staff: You’re welcome. Did you want me to look ahead at any dates for you?
API: We are still just doing our research, but I appreciate the offer.
Staff: OK. Perfect. No problem. Do you have any other questions for me?
API: No, that was it. Thank you.
Staff: OK, beautiful. Feel free to call us back if you need help with anything else. I believe we have an awesome video on our website now that kind of shows a bit of an overview of our course, too, if you want to look that up so people can kind of see what you get to do.
API: Oh, cool. I’ll go check that out.
Staff: Perfect. Well, feel free to call us back.
API: Will do.

Score: 10
Comment: Crushed it. She was almost as detailed as the FAQs page and way more personable. She asked good questions and responded to my answers in ways that were polite and helpful. I’d be stoked to bring my imaginary crew here.

Identity Revealed: Kohala Zipline

 

Debrief:
1) Every one of these staffers should have directed me at one point or another to their company website. All of these operations have information on their FAQs pages or elsewhere online that could help answer my question and/or help move me into the booking funnel. If you don’t have FAQs on your website, add them—many consumers go online first. And if you already have a great website with a booking platform, staff should direct potential customers toward it for more info if callers aren’t ready to book on the phone. The corollary to that, though, is to make sure staff don’t send callers to the website without also making the most of the opportunity to engage with them on the phone—that first impression matters.

2) Some aerial adventures are extreme and/or require a higher degree of physical fitness. That’s not a bad thing. Think about the language staff use to talk about risk, thrills, and, perhaps, braking impact. You can be honest without turning off guests that might otherwise be eligible and interested participants.

3) Where has curiosity gone? It’s alarming how few of the staffers asked me any questions about the trip I was planning or whether I had specific concerns. You can ask questions without prying. A little bit of curiosity about the person on the other end of the line can go a long way, and may be the difference between a booking and a lost customer.

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