On Thursday 10th October 2013 we held our 3rd Q&A session on TowersStreet Chat. Many things were discussed, both serious and silly! Here is a list of all the questions asked and the responses we gave. Some responses have been condensed as multiple team members answered questions.
Ogoid asked: Why?
thewonderfulhobo asked: will you be doing another pub quiz at some point?
Joel: Yes, well hopefully soon. I hope. Its on the cards as I have a generic apple personal computer being imported from Afghanistan at present and then it will be easier to run one.
Alex / Alastair / Ogoid asked: How much does the forum / site / ride count cost to run and will you be accepting donations?
Team: Joel and Craig currently pay between £30-£35 a month. Should the costs increase further the rest of the team have offered to step in and assist with funds should that need arise. As for donations its something at the moment we don’t want to do, there are certain legalities due to the business nature of it that we have decided that we have no plans to accept donations. Although we are very touched that we have members who would like to. Thank you!
Andrew asked: Will there be a minisite for the 2014 developments?
Team: Quite simply, no. While our SW7/Smiler mini site was a great success at the time it became clear we are left with a chunk of data not integrated into the site and that’s a shame. We plan on having the development page under the new attraction pages – also historically only SWs have had mini sites.
DanB asked: What plans do you have for the site in the next year?
Team: The new Contribute section is teetering on the edge of a launch, and we have some brilliant member written features to go with. Its been the ‘baby’ project of the a few of the team members rather than the whole team and we need to pull together a little more to get it launched.
Sadly we’ve all had ridiculously busy summers in our real lives, but things are getting back into order.
Dave : to echo that, the first Contribute article is ready on wordpress and just needs me and Craig to do the final formatting.
Joel: the past few months we have been in maintenance mode. We have as a team thrown around some ideas about expanding things and trying to adapt with our fanbase as we are noticing a slight ted in people losing interest in Alton. To start with though we will be getting more feedback, planning and reviewing, so no firm plans (in short).
DanB asked: What are the unique visitor counts looking like these days?
Joel: the (unique) visitor figures are certainly higher than the previous 6 month period, and whilst figures are still flattening out after the highs of SW7, we’ve definitely still got a positive increase – here’s the chart pulled from Google now, with blue showing this last 6 months, and orange previous 6 months –http://i.imgur.com/UNEt5e3.png
Dave (TS Team) to Members: would you be interested in a scarefest Q&A session with someone from ents as part of a meet (obviously free) just curious?
Members: Dear Lord of Darkness YES!
Ogoid asked: I know some of the team are in contact with John Wadley, has he ever expressed any feeling about the split in the community?
Team: He is, as ever, very diplomatic.
Poisson asked: the scarefest theme is top work, muchos like for it.
Andrew asked: How often does the site get updated?
Team: every week in some way, it’s a never ending cycle. For example in the past week we’ve changed ride pages related to the closed farmyard attractions and also removed them from our height guide page.
Ian: with news it varies, currently theres not a lot to report from Alton. Maybe the Smiler should fall apart more often, so we have more news.
Ogoid asked: Nice idea to change the topic sections from Merlin / Everything else to Europe and World. Would you ever consider expanding the forum to be more of a generic theme park site?
Team: we’ve toyed with some blue sky ideas about expanding our horizons recently, and I think we’ll continue to look at maybe one or two of the ideas about expanding the forum discussion with parks that perhaps don’t have (certainly any English) fan sites at the moment, as there is a lot of interest there. But certainly no plans to become the next RCCGB or anything, sorry
Several Members asked: How about clothing for meets? What happened to the pin badges idea?
Team: No clothing. Not ever. Ever.
Joel: AAAAAARGH pin badges! Its my fault I took it as a project and failed. I did email our previous supplier but they never got back in touch and I just forgot. But it is something I plan on looking at over closed season.
BigDave asked: are radio shows coming back?
Team: Hopefully, we will see how the pub quiz goes and then we will look at radio. It does rely on Joel having no social life though and wanting to spend his evenings doing it, rather than sleeping, or living in Tesco.
Joelio asked: Is it possible to get some kind of ‘blog’ feature on users profiles that users can write say a trip report to, that is then posted to the forum too?
Team: It’s a nice idea, and we do have the ridecount integration too now that allows people to log trips and write trip reports for a trip too. Naturally people often post trip reports in the meetups and other threads too, however we’ll add it to our features list to see if there is a way that our current software allows a ‘blog’ style feature for each user that can be shared to a forum post also.
We received MANY questions over the way our meets system works, and realise that things have got to change. In the next couple of weeks there will be a topic in Guest Services, and a questionnaire about what you, our members want to see. So while some questions are below, some may have been merged or not have final responses its because it is something we plan to look at with you all.
Its also worth noting that this year we struggled with the meets as the Smiler really messed up our schedule being so, well, over schedule.
Will you charge for meets?
Team: No, we have no plans for it. Our ethos on creating the community was to be free and open, so everyone could take part. The park is an expensive day out, so we don’t want to add any additional costs on.
But what about special events, there are members who want to be with TS on meets but feel left out that we cant get extra treatment because of your stance on fees. Cant you do it once a year as a one-off?
Team: I don’t think we quite expected this response, its certainly something we will look at. We will have more information in the Guest Services topic soon.
What about the free things offered to TowersStreet?
Team: We intend on keeping them free as and when Alton Towers offer them to us, however at present there is a clamp down on these. But should they arrive, we promise we wont make anyone pay. We aren’t here for profit.
The numbers for attending the international meet are disappointing.
Team: Last time we did this, a lot of people joined late on. We know some people are waiting annual leave confirmation from their employers too. And we don’t have enough people that either can drive, or want to drive that far, we anticipate some will join us for a few of the park.
Can Lightwater, Flamingo Land, Blackpool etc be on the calendar next year?
Team: We did a pretty hefty Northern trip this year, but when we launch the questionnaire we will be open to suggestions to which parks people want to visit.
Can meets be moved away from school holidays so its cheaper for accommodation, parks and gives other people a chance to get on meets?
Team: again when the feedback methods are available please make sure to put that in there.
Why are meets several days? Alton isn’t a 2/3 park to many of us, cant the second days be unofficial?
Team: We do appreciate people travel a long way and that accommodation for multi-days plus costs can be an issue for people. Again its something for us to look at. We did feel there were too many multi day trips this season.
Can meets be moved away from Alton Towers? Can we have more varied places to visit?
Team: We are, as ever, open to suggestions. But our primary trip location, for now, will remain as Alton Towers.
Can camping come back?
Team: We’re not really sure that camping is suitable for everyone these days… so probably not.
Ben: Over my dead body.
Saz: Hell no.
Can meets be more organised? Some people feel they miss out on rides, but worry they wont get back with the group.
Team: Its something we are willing to look at, but we don’t have itineraries of ‘do ride a now, then ride b etc’ it would more be ‘ok we can be in place X at this time’ for those who want to re-join us.
Our meets have always allowed people to come and go as they please, so if you want an hour with us then pop off and do rides go ahead! We want you to have as much fun as we do and enjoy your day out.
We could look at a twitter, facebook or other way of communicating our whereabouts though.
How about a chaperone for the separate groups?
Team: That’s not something we want to do, our free flowing meets are just that, and we wouldn’t want to restrict anyone into doing anything. The other thing is the team also come for a fun day out and to meet members, so it would take that away from us abit.
Will you do more over closed season?
Team: Well after the success of Beach Party in January I think its safe to say, yes – yes we will. Again we are open to suggestions of what to do.
That was it for this Q&A session – of course if you do have any other questions or feedback you are always welcome to contact the team with them, or to post in our Guest Services forum on TowersStreet Talk!
Thank you to everyone who took part.