Six Flags’ Loyalty Program

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May 30, 2006
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By John Hennessy, Vice President, Concept Shopping, Inc.
(www.conceptshopping.com)

Six Flags Parks has launched the Carrothead program for kids. Membership includes special recognition during park visits, exclusive contest opportunities, a monthly newsletter
and an official hat. The program is open to kids aged four to ten.


Kids join the Carrothead Club by attending Brunch with Bugs at any Six Flags park. Bugs and his Looney Tunes pals attend the brunch, pose for photos and give out prizes.


“The Carrothead Club is the latest family-friendly enhancement to Six Flags’ in-park experience and a way to continue kids’ connection with Six Flags after they leave the park,” said Carol Silver, Six Flags Director of Entertainment and Marketing. “Enabling kids to take a piece of the park with them is a unique way for our guests to become Six Flags brand ambassadors in their individual communities.”


Moderator’s Comment: What types of ambassador programs do you believe work best in aligning customers with a brand? Are there specific brand ambassador
programs that exemplify best in class in this area?


“…Six Flags brand ambassadors.” That sounds an awful lot like unpaid, word of mouth marketers. But these brand ambassadors are not simply unpaid. They
pay for the privilege of promoting the park.


Some of what’s missing in the press release includes the details on the Lunch with Bugs. The tab to enjoy a buffet with costumed licensed characters is
$17.99 for adults and $15.99 for children. So the “free” membership in the Carrothead Club requires a table for two of one parent and one child dropping nearly $34 (excluding
tip) for a buffet lunch.


This is on top of the single day $42.99 adult entrance fee ($12 off if you order online) and $34.99 child fee (for children over 54″).


I’m not sure how the Carrothead program is anything but another way to pry open mom’s wallet while recruiting child guests to be word-of-mouth promotion
vehicles.


Not my favorite program as executed.


I contrast the Carrothead program with any number of other brand-based societies and clubs. These other programs encourage use of the brand (not an apparent
goal of the Carrothead program), encourage sharing of the brand with others (a Carrothead goal), but these other programs derive their benefit from expanded business through contact
with members, not through membership fees.
– John Hennessy – Moderator

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9 Comments on "Six Flags’ Loyalty Program"


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Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 9 months ago

The most profitable theme park promotion ever seen: The weekly NBC Disney TV program in the 1950’s promoted Disneyland. The Disney corporation was paid to advertise its theme park in prime time, instead of the other way around. Six Flags could use the same kind of promotion (television and/or web broadcasts). Their ad spending is a major drain that needs to be turned into a profit center. The Carrothead Club is a very weak alternative.

Karin Miller
Guest
Karin Miller
14 years 9 months ago

If executed well, this does sound like a program that could potentially build loyalty by making these young customers feel like VIPs on a day that would have already been special. The added cost does not sound unreasonable (relative to amusement park prices in general) for “Breakfast with Bugs” and ongoing membership. A cool, content-rich newsletter with something for everyone (along with promotional coupons) may prove to be a low-cost way to keep Six Flags in the forefront of their best customers’ minds, and hopefully returning more often. Information about park products that kids will aspire to experience as teens should be included too.

If done correctly, this could build memories that today’s young people will want want to replicate for the kids that they have someday.

Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
14 years 9 months ago

The character meal as a requirement for joining the club has it backwards: the opportunity for a private event with the characters should be a privilege of membership, not the cost. Even at the exact same price, making that meal a benefit of membership makes far more sense. The meal is a straight copy of the same event at Disneyworld, but anyone can go to that. So making it more exclusive and members-only would serve to distinguish it from the Disney experience and provide a greater incentive for membership.

Also, there seems to be a mismatch between the goal and the audience. The kids who would get excited about having a meal with workers in costume are not the same age as kids who are interested in knowing “how a rollercoaster works” or reading newsletters, but the content of the newsletters doesn’t sound like it has parents in mind either.

The program as described sounds like a bit of a jumble of promotional and loyalty ideas thrown together.

Mark Burr
Guest
14 years 9 months ago

If you have to think about it too long and meet too many qualifications, than it’s likely not a very good promotion. In this case it passes both of my tests. It also doesn’t meet my test with respect to what could possibly create loyalty with the customer. That isn’t created by such promotions in the first place. The problem in this case with my test is that geographically you might not have many alternatives per se. However, when it comes to kids, if you’re looking to spend that kind of money in a single outlay, there are certainly alternatives — albeit not necessarily the same — but there are alternatives.

Doug Fleener
Guest
14 years 9 months ago
I guess how don’t even see how this is an Ambassador program but rather just an additional revenue opportunity. I see a brand ambassador as the result of delivering an outstanding customer experience and not a program that someone pays to be a part of. I think it is important to put systems into place that brand ambassadors can share their great experience with other consumers, builder a deeper relationship with the brand, and have an opportunity to do even more business with the company themselves. Instead of paying to be an ambassador, I want either compensated in some small way, or at the very least recognized. It’s like hotel loyalty programs. I get annoyed when I get the email to fill out some online survey without any compensation or at least a chance to win something. Why not enter me into a drawing for 10,000 points. They could then discover that I had an outstanding visit and send me a follow-up opportunity that would let me systematically share that with others. Brands need to… Read more »
Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
14 years 9 months ago

First loyalty membership that I have noted with kids as the target. Yes, parents are involved. But, if the service level is superior and newsletters are what the young rascals run to the mail box to look for, then you have two very positive loyalty triggers.

The meal expense is consistent with other outings; and the likes of Chuck E. Cheese’s, Build-A-Bear, and Disney park costs. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
14 years 9 months ago

Best in class? I wonder how many other RW readers of a certain age remember the Mickey Mouse Club? Joining that one didn’t cost an arm and a leg but I still remember enjoying it all those long long years ago. (Is it still going today and why is it not ever held up as the epitome of getting kids to promote a brand with little or no bribery involved?)

Michael L. Howatt
Guest
Michael L. Howatt
14 years 9 months ago

I don’t think it will take parents long to peel back the onion on this one and see what’s really going on. It’s a shame that Six Flags marketers feel this type of deception is necessary and that they feel the public is too dense to see the hidden costs. Yes, having lunch with a character is a nice feature, but that money would best be spent on the amount of gas it takes to drive all the way to Gurnee.

Gary Joyner
Guest
Gary Joyner
14 years 8 months ago
Ok, so you’re a regional, branded theme park operator who is struggling with attendance, yet you are a public entity and have a mandate to maintain or grow earnings. Your investment in roller coasters has gotten yawns for years, so the dilemma is: How can you grow in-park spending as a source of the incremental revenue you need to cover your over-leveraged situation and generate the profits being demanded by investors who have seen share value erode to a small percentage of their “price of admission”? As a theme park alumnus, I was a part of the struggle. Incremental revenue growth among the regional operators has come from driving the per capita spending of those who have already made the decision to lavish a little extravagance on the kids or grandkids for a day. Promotions at the gate and special season pass sales have helped bring folks to the parks. Now the trick is to get them to spend for something special. Typically those season pass holders spend less during their visit than “at the… Read more »
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