Guest engagement as a safety tool

Managing Member / Gen. Counsel, International Ride Training

If you’ve flown on an airline recently, you have surely noticed a change in many of the pre-flight safety announcements. Mostly gone are the days of a flight attendant standing at the front of the cabin making monotone announcements about emergency exits, floor lighting and seat belt usage. Instead, airlines have turned to sophisticated, energetic and, yes, even entertaining videos to convey safety information to passengers. 


Unfortunately, guest engagement in the attractions industry is often thought of only as a guest service issue. Our employees are trained to be nice to our guests, to anticipate their needs and to ensure that they feel welcome at our facilities. All of that is important, but engagement goes deeper. Just as on an airplane, guests who feel engaged are more likely to listen to safety spiels, onboard instructions and rider warnings. Beyond simple warm, fuzzy feelings, engagement is about making our guests safer.    

Why? Because the airline industry has figured out that engaging passengers maximizes the likelihood that they will pay attention to this information. Wouldn’t that also be the case at an amusement ride?

How do we improve guest engagement? Obviously, not every park can take a cue from the airlines and show entertaining videos at every ride location. But there are other things that can be done, such as infusing automatic spiels with more entertaining and lively instructions to cut through the noise on ride platforms. Train the ride operators not only what to say, but how to say it in an interesting manner. And within reason, give ride operators freedom to infuse their spiels with their personalities so that not every operator sounds the same — even as the content of the information remains consistent. Most importantly, expect, don’t just encourage, operators to speak to guests one-on-one by treating engagement the same as other safety policies from a management perspective.  

Safety is as important in our industry as it is in aviation. So why not borrow what’s working for the airlines to enhance safety on our attractions?