There are some projects at Coughlin that have a clear beginning and end. The postcards get mailed, the booklets get picked up, and the menus are delivered to your favorite local restaurant. Other projects, however, are more about the relationship than a single product or service. This is especially true as businesses develop new ways of serving customers during Covid-19.
We recently helped Maple Ridge Center, a long-time client, tackle a new project: online ticket sales.
Maple Ridge Center is an event rental facility in Lowville, NY. The organization also operates a snow tubing hill – the longest one in the state, in fact. This winter has been a busy one, as families are desperate for fun, outdoor activities.
“This is the best year we’ve had for snow… We’re very fortunate that when there’s such a demand for something to do outside, we’ve got the snow. Snow is a good thing, believe it or not,” Keith Zehr, the executive director of Maple Ridge Center, told Watertown’s WWNY.
With plenty of snow and not a lot of other options, eager families were buying the limited number of first-come, first-served tickets. That’s the good news. The bad news? Other families, who often drove for an hour or more, had to be turned away. Turning away potential customers is never ideal.
We helped Maple Ridge Center move ticket sales to their website, allowing families to plan for and purchase tubing tickets in advance. While the system is designed to be simple and hands-off (we love efficiency!), we have to be honest: we were obsessed with checking the sales.
We made it easy for customers to buy tickets, and they certainly bought tickets. The update launched a couple days before Winter Break. Sessions sold out. We don’t like to brag, but we really like when something works even better than we had planned.
With spring on the horizon, we thought it would be a good time to consider what can be learned from this project.
Below are some lessons we would like to share:
Maple Ridge Center is in that awkward position of not having an easy target audience; they want to be a place for everyone. However, different events and programs are likely to draw in different groups of people. The snow tubing hill tends to be a hit with young families who are willing to drive an hour (or more!) for an afternoon of winter fun. This audience wanted to plan ahead and know that tickets would be available.
You can imagine the disappointment of parents and kids upon arriving at the snow park only to find that tickets were sold out. Sure, sold out is great. But disappointed potential customers talk just as much as happy ones. When people asked for a way to purchase tickets in advance, the company listened.
Covid-19 has probably already brought plenty of changes to your business. The tubing hill at Maple Ridge Center wasn’t an exception. It shifted from one longer tubing session without attendance limits to three or four shorter sessions with limited capacity, so guests didn’t need to share tubes. Don’t become obsolete. Keep growing to match the needs and expectations of your customers.
For Maple Ridge Center, the changes made during the 2021 snow tubing season made life better. Staff knew how busy each session would be and could plan accordingly. Families spent less time checking in at the beginning of their session, because they had paid online. Limited capacity meant smaller crowds; guests spent more time tubing in their designated two hours instead of waiting in line during a five-hour session. Shorter sessions also meant more sessions could be added to each day … and that meant more customers.
The lessons learned at Maple Ridge Center this season will stick around long after the snow melts.
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