Leadership comes to forefront of 2020
Golden Tickets recognize guiding lights during a year to remember
No matter where a person lives, there is always a particular summer or winter where the weather causes residents to say things like: “Remember the summer of __” or “The winter of __ will never be forgotten.” 2020 will unquestionably fall into that category but for different reasons. Mother Nature won’t be to blame.
As the coronavirus pandemic impacted every aspect of individuals’ daily lives — and quickly! — people banded together. The globe responded and sentiments of “We’re all in this together!” permeated the airwaves. There was strength in unity as people hunkered down and worked toward safety. The “Best of the Best” in 2020 were those people and companies who strived to be guiding lights.
Hospital workers, first responders, delivery people and grocery workers were instantly regarded as heroes. Our amusement industry also found its place in helping however it could. Disney parks, Six Flags parks and SeaWorld / Busch Gardens parks were among those that immediately began donating food. Companies such as Premier Rides, Extreme Engineering, Larson International and Daniels Wood Land were just a handful among those that helped create personal protection equipment and donated it all. State fairs stepped up to become donation and testing centers or temporary hospitals.
Airlines, hotel/hospitality, bars and restaurants, live performances, cruise ships … the brutal impacts were apparent. Among those groups was the amusement and attractions industry.
The world scrambled to gather data, analyze it and then use it for the best course of action. Fear became replaced by plans, often based on science, but sometimes not. While regulations were inconsistent from state to state, businesses muddled through baby steps to find their paths. Any day was declared a victory when one park or facility could open in some form or another.
Within this shuffle was the opportunity for all businesses to take a step back. What could be done differently? What could be done better? Amusement parks and other operators took a close look at cleanliness. Best practices soon adapted to reducing touchpoints and creating cashless opportunities. Operators began sharing data. Organizations met together though the new normal — the Zoom meeting.
The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions jumped into action, as did many regional associations. IAAPA, in its representation for all its members, initiated communication and recommendations to help each property steer through unnavigated waters.
“There is no other industry in the world whose sole purpose is to provide safe, fun and memorable experiences. Our passion for making people happy, combined with our industry’s ability to adapt and innovate, is a strength that will never change,” shared Hal McEvoy, president and CEO, IAAPA. “We have never before experienced a challenge like COVID-19, but I am confident we will find ways to move forward together, learning from these difficult experiences and using that knowledge to make our industry stronger than ever before.”
Through gloom and despair, the industry found innovative ways to think outside the box. Many steps entered the virtual world of doing things. Safety got ratcheted up a notch. Patience and understanding became vital.
2020 will indeed be a year remembered quite darkly, but it did present an opportunity for each facility, owner and operator to hit reset, step back and look at the big picture. Bright spots emerged along the way.
This year’s Golden Ticket Awards have worked to recognize those bright spots, those facilities and companies that have stepped forward in this time. As current events, politics and natural disasters have diverted the narrative to other things, it would be beneficial for everyone to be mindful once again: We’re all still in this together.
All stories this issue
by Tim Baldwin
unless otherwise noted