Not-so-sweet experience management, Part 1

A few weeks ago, right before school started, my six-year-old son and I went to Herseypark amusement park, in Hershey PA. It’s about a three-hour drive from home, so going there was a commitment, and expectations were high, particularly since going there with his older brother and sister had been a ritual that we absolutely loved for years. I hadn’t been there for seven years, so I was interested to see what changes had been made, and hopeful that they’d kept everything we loved.

Our natural first stop, before we’d even left home, was the web site. I’m thinking we’ll check out the rides (and, quietly, the height requirement) and maybe even buy tickets online so that we can just stroll through the gate. Good in theory, bad in practice.

Think about this interaction: you google “Hersheypark” and of course up comes the “official” web site. Wouldn’t you want me, right then, to book online? Wouldn’t you want to offer me a discount so that I’m more compelled to book online? And once I have the tickets, I’m gonna go, because I’ve then made the mental commitment to the three-hour drive. Too easy to put it off otherwise.

But. No discount. So no buying online.

The lesson: “engagement” in the form of a web site, has many forms. The deepest is interaction. Give me an opportunity to do something of value (like buying discount tickets online) and I’ll likely do it. Lower the value (Sure you can buy tickets online. Full price, please…) and I’m outta here.

And this was just the beginning of a horrible experience. More in next post.

My question for you: what’s the most engaging thing you’ve done on your web site, or have seen on other sites. Send me a post and we can all discuss.