Fastrack Farce

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by AstroDan, 28th Oct 2012.

  1. TheMan

    TheMan TowersStreet Member

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    Absolutely Meat, agree entirely except not knowing precisely where this chain stops. Ultimately Merlin still answer to Blackstone.

    Also, whenever I have seen interviews or reports RE Merlin etc, you can bet your life that customer service doesn't appear anywhere near them. Buying, profitability, more stuff, etc usual gumption.

    Service - was no where to be found. Personally I think it rather obvious, as a company, in the hopsitality/service/entertainment business, that should be No1.

    And also, monetising annoyance as mentioned, is an enemy of innovation! And if you cannot be innovative, and customer focused, in the theme park industry, where the heck else are you supposed to be??

    There is, simply, no defending them, nor no excuses (Alton may have genuine reasons, as per mentioned) - but somewhere up that chain, exists a chair, with a person sat in it without a clue about this industry bar how to wring it dry.

    Good work that person!

    Guys, talking about Hotel Fast Track after the removal of ERT is a part of the general approach to service Merlin wide now.

    You can't isolate it. It is part of a wider issue, it is simply another effect manifest of it.

    When you stand back, and look company wide, you can see how much of a rip off it is, and how they try and get away with anything now on the cheap and don't give a crap how it affects a customers day.

    THORPE is a perfect example. If they take it off Hotel, it will only appear somewhere else. This was a cheap solution, that cost nothing to implement, saved them a fortune on early opening, and crapped all over non-resident paying guests!!

    It is an ethos and an attitude towards their customers. Until you tackle the elephant in the room (Merlin's dire attitude towards customers), it will get worse.

    Mod Comment: posts merged, please don't double post :)
     
  2. Dave

    Dave TS Founding Member

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    I'm the biggest Merlin moaner on here but with the exception of Disney paid fast track is nearly everywhere in some form now, it's even imminent at what many consider the best run themepark in the world (Europa).

    So I think it's a little blinkered to just lay this at Merlins feet, also this situation we have seen this weekend was due to additional FREE fast track. But that situation is apparent most weekends at Thorpe and they don't have free FT.
     
  3. Scott

    Scott Former TS Team Member

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    Sorry, I didn't mean that a monetised system was better, I meant to infer that in terms of a paid system, those would be the two best ways to do it. I agree it should be free, but unfortunately I think we need to be resigned to paid Fastrack staying - particularly as just about every park in the world bar Disney does it.
     
  4. TheMan

    TheMan TowersStreet Member

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    It wasn't FREE though was it Dave dude?

    It made AT an awful lot of money by not having to open early! It was a very profitable exercise.

    I've not said either some form of fast track couldn't work, but the rolling out of it in more places does not make it right. We should be doing what we can, to discourage further roll outs of this rubbish, if Europa do it and knacker it up that's their reputation. I haven't been so can't comment. What I can compare it to, is times I have seen Merlin operate profitably, and what they were doing, and the exorbitant rises in costs must now mean they are absolutely coining it in, by progressively making your experience far worse.

    How they are using it, is becoming the antithesis of what a Theme Park means. As I said in another thread, Merlin are custodians of some great parks, and in places, historic places - they are making a mockery of our industry, and doing damage that will last for years if not stopped.

    I have very little good to say about them right now, and I have a very, very loud voice.
     
  5. Dave

    Dave TS Founding Member

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    The park is open 4 hours more and those rides that are on ERT are open 3 hours more during Scarefest than a 5pm close with ERT.... Where is the cost saving? They don't do ERT during Scarefest and Fireworks because it would result in staff doing upto 14 hour days. So think the cost saving logic is a bit flawed there.
     
  6. BigDave

    BigDave TowersStreet Member

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    Fastrack or the earlier virtual queue systems don't work unless you regulate them properly. When it was virtual queue, each ticket had a timeslot and you only issued so many per timeslot. Now I know guests are going to be annoyed at having to use their fastrack at a certain time of day, but the thing is, the park have already in the past issued fastrack with a warning saying that they cannot be used at peak times of the day. Having a timed and delayed system not only means you can limit the amount of tickets issued per time slot, but also if the ride goes down, you can stop issuing tickets so that the ride has chance to work through its backlog before you start giving out more fastrack. The current system is poorly managed and needs tweaking.
     
  7. TheMan

    TheMan TowersStreet Member

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    Is this not the first season they have removed ERT at this time?

    I accept the staffing issue as a point well made, but opening hours across all parks have shortened this year - and prices have risen, multiple times in some cases. Reduced offer tickets, premium mazes, and earlier year costing factors can easily offset later openings late on.

    Over all this year, the hours have reduced though if I am not mistaken, and costs have risen? If that is not correct then fair enough, I take your point, otherwise I'd say mine remains valid.
     
  8. Dave

    Dave TS Founding Member

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    No they have never really run ERT during 9pm closes.

    Your point remains valid if your talking about overall reduction in value for money which I would agree whole heartedly with. Yet you stated the hotel ERT was not free due to the cost saving of not operating from 9am. In this case I think your wrong as overall these rides are operating 3 hours longer.

    This is however getting off topic
     
  9. TheMan

    TheMan TowersStreet Member

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    Agreed Dave, I was under the impression ERT always ran during Scarefest.

    Giving that some thought. So why did they start handing them out? What did it replace? Was it to achieve higher occupancy on resort?

    Can someone clarify their thoughts on ERT - Astro seemed to suggest they replaced something else? Is it because guests get ERT out of this season, yet when in it, feel they have to provide something to replace it - hence fast track? Or did they give something away last year/have lower prices that meant they had to add this in?

    A bit confused now after Dave's comments. Fair play though mate on that point I do understand if you're indeed correct and it is a completely isolated oddity.

    That left me with more questions though lol!
     
  10. Scott

    Scott Former TS Team Member

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    ERT is always given as a perk to Hotel guests, those who buy advance tickets and Annual Pass holders. In order to retain some sense of a perk for those who are staying on resort, the park offer Fastrack for those in the hotels while ERT isn't running.
     
  11. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Re: Re: Fastrack Farce

    Fastrack quotas at Alton Towers have increased over time.

    Sad but true.

    When I worked at AT in 2007 there were less than 100pph on Rita fastrack.

    Sent from my GT-I9300 using Tapatalk
     
  12. IanB

    IanB TowersStreet Member

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    This is such a shame, one of the things I love about Europa Park is that there is no FastTrack, hopefully it will not have a negative impact on the park.

    When Nemesis and the Haunted House were built, there was no concept of FastTrack, but I am sure if you look at the Budget for SW7, they will set the budget based on getting x amount back from additional guests, x amount back from on-ride photos, x amount back from merchandise sold from the ride, and there will be a x amount they expect to get back based on the amount of FastTrack sold.

    I don't disagree that Merlin appear to use the older rides to make money from FastTrack purely to increase profit, but if I was running the park, I would be ensuring that the FastTrack profit on older rides was used to increase their maintenance budget, and that new rides had it to increase the budget for the initial ride, and then after it has broken even, used to maintain it.

    Ian
     
  13. TheMan

    TheMan TowersStreet Member

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    Just to address this cost/maintenance issue thing.

    I decided to do some historical pricing.

    Nemmy opened in 1994 at £10m - todays money that = £16m (using inflation calculators)

    Gate price Est. £15 (Can only find 1990/1997 prices - so pitched on average rises p/a) - Which now would = £24.

    However next year, prices will be (let's include parking split between 2, to be fair!) £49 - That is = £31 in '94 money.

    That's an overall higher cost of 30% basically.

    That's not including massive up selling, such as lockers, increased food, hotels, golf, express parking, general over the odds increases in photos and such like also!

    Merlin spread it cleverly, but make no bones about it, takings are I would estimate 40/50% more now than when Nemmy opened, and they are in relative terms.

    Fast Track will be paying for Foie Gras and Dom Perignon 2002 Vintage...(not at AT), not maintenance costs.

    (Oh, and let's not get into NET asset values of the "fixtures and fittings" of the parks, which by now would nicely offset a chunk of the 100m Blackstone paid to buy Merlin/Tussauds out - that investment, will be offset against profits for tax relief, and will decrease in asset value, creating more tax relief - the cost (outlay), will be nothing like the actual cost the business pays - that's how businesses can reinvest to grow! They're VERY clever Blackstone)
     
  14. GaryH

    GaryH TowersStreet Member

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    Interesting topic.

    Firstly, the weekend in question is well known to be the busiest day of the year (maybe with exception of fireworks event). We went one year on Halloween and there was a 3 hour queue for Nemesis. Never again. So firstly, huge queues the weekend just gone was to be expected. Even without Fasttrack, queue times would have been huge.

    With regards hotel guests getting Fasttrack tickets in the absence of ERT, whether right or wrong, if I were a hotel guest paying £400+ to stay there, then i'd want something to compensate me for the loss of ERT. So I dont blame AT for giving hotel guests Fasttrack tickets.

    However, with regards the way Fasttrack is implemented and run, I dont know if there are too many Fasttrack tickets available, or if everyone tends to use them at the same time!! It would be an interesting experiement to see if timing the tickets so they are spread throughout the day would be more effective.

    It would also be interesting to see how many Fasttrack tickets are available to purchase at the start of each day and compare this to previous years. Obviously AT is a business so Merlin are there to make profits, of which FastTrack on a busy day is an excellent little money spinner.

    I went to the park on the 20th which was busy, but not too bad, typical really for a Scarefest day - I just think that the combination of it being the busiest weekend of the year and hotels full to capacity, plus as you mention some of the delays placed upon the rides (Rita for example) just all contributed to extraordinary long queues, of which FastTrack was a factor, but whichever way you look at it, the queues would still have been large, fasttrack or not.

    Morale of the story, dont visit AT Scarefest on the weekend just before Halloween and expect to get on many rides. Not taking any sides here, but unfortunately, thats the truth. (Much to the demise of people paying £45 to get in and only doing 3 rides as some people are complaining now on the AT Facebook pages)......
     
  15. BigDave

    BigDave TowersStreet Member

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    The thing is none of us expected to get on that many rides. We knew it was going to be busy. What annoyed us was the fact that the rides were pretty much running just for fastrack. As already mentioned, Oblivion was only sending 1 row of normal queue and the remaining 4 per dispatch were for fastrack or disabled. Even if they had 2 for the normal queue, 1 for disabled and exit passes and one for fastrack it would have been better.

    Thirteen was exactly the same. They were pretty much running two trains of fastrack and only running 1 train for disabled and normal queue. So this stops becoming a topic about how busy the park was, but about how fastrack is handled. I wouldn't mind having to wait an hour or so if we knew that the queue was getting its fair share of the seats on the ride, but knowing that we were literally being treated as not being important or a second rate guest is not on.
     
  16. Dave

    Dave TS Founding Member

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    Re: Re: Fastrack Farce

    I was referring to an increase between recently, in contrast to Thorpe who just sell as much as they can.
     
  17. TheMan

    TheMan TowersStreet Member

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    They're fair comments Gary.

    I actually enjoy a free market economy in it's truest sense. Businesses also innovate, and improve lives in many ways. Socially responsible and ethical business, with a slant on good service is something I appreciate greatly.

    Monopolies however are the enemy of innovation. Healthy and fair competition drives up standards and value, but Merlin have a stranglehold now on our Theme Park industry, it's no coincidence service is slipping in favour of profit for further expansion. Nick Varney himself has stated this in numerous interviews (the importance to Merlin of extensive acquisition).

    You're no longer just paying to keep our parks up to scratch, or indeed investment in new rides - it's also funding an increasing monopolisation of the industry, the queues/fast track and ever increasing costs are simply an effect of the downward pressure on the individual parks to cut costs and make more money.

    The bigger they have got, the worse it has gotten.

    I don't think it would take that much, to bring it back into balance - there are ways that Merlin offer great value at times, that is become more scarce however, and a little too elitist for my liking. No place for that in and industry where everyone should be able to enjoy a good day out, without vast differences according to how much cash you are willing to spend.

    Options? Fine. When those options start to come to the severe detriment of 1000's of other paying customers, making it almost an essential to get any kind of (perceived) value from your day, that is when it's gotten out of whack.
     
  18. TheMan

    TheMan TowersStreet Member

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    Re: Re: Fastrack Farce

    What you see at Thorpe, you will see everywhere else eventually. If they demonstrate a way to cram the park, up the profits, and just about get away with it you will see it elsewhere.

    It's a growing trend, Thorpe is the future of Merlin. It's self evident.
     
  19. GaryH

    GaryH TowersStreet Member

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    I just hope Merlin dont get their hands on any more UK parks tbh - they are bad news for the theme park industry (good news for shareholders though).
     
  20. Scott

    Scott Former TS Team Member

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    Not only would they be mad to do such a thing when they can't look after what they have now, but I doubt the competition commission would even allow it.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk.
     

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