Goals and challenges
DropZone Waterpark is a new, county-owned facility geared toward families with children under age 12. The Perris area is considered low income, so the park tries to provide as much value as possible for the guests’ experience.
The staff utilizes marketing and social media to accomplish two of its key goals — to increase community outreach and boost attendance. In the off-season, outreach centers on a guerilla marketing campaign to capture additional attendance and revenue.
But the 2-year-old park still faces an awareness issue, with some guests saying, “This place is great; we never knew you were here.” Management also has to contend with budget challenges. As a government-run facility, the staff must provide big results on a limited budget, so they constantly need to think outside the box and find creative, inexpensive ways to increase revenue and the overall guest experience.
How they did it
DropZone uses Facebook as its main social media avenue with great success. Because the aim is to stay relevant and constantly top of mind, careful consideration is given to the timing and frequency of Facebook posts, and when it’s appropriate to “boost” a post — all while ensuring that information is current and, most importantly, that the messages are family-friendly.
Staff members post on average six or seven times weekly, promoting events and the fun that can be experienced at the facility.
In the past 2½ months, DropZone’s Facebook fan base has grown by more than 5,000, thanks in no small part to its catchy photos and graphics.
In addition to its social media campaign, the facility devotes much attention to traditional marketing efforts. A three-pronged strategy consists of the following:
- Three billboard ads were strategically placed in high-traffic areas within a 20-mile radius of the park.
- Half-page coupon print ads targeting coupon-clipper moms and seniors went into local magazines, reaching 80,000 homes. Males were targeted via a half-page ad in the Perris Auto Speedway program, and a stadium billboard ad at the local minor league baseball field.
- The website was redesigned to be more user-friendly, which had a huge impact on the park’s bottom line and per-capita spending. Cabana rentals jumped 44 percent over 2014; birthday gatherings increased more than $30,000; and private company events quadrupled in number. Season pass sales grew more than 11 percent and swim lessons increased 108 percent.
Management attributes most, if not all, to heightened awareness of the facility through its marketing efforts.
Hosting events also has increased name recognition for the waterpark. For example, DropZone not only launched a water safety campaign on its website, but also hosted a free Water Safety Day during the county’s National Drowning Prevention Week. There were hands-on water safety classes, lifeguard demonstrations and swim evaluations, so parents knew how to work with their children at home to make them more safe. Vendors such as the Riverside County Sheriff’s Dive Team (Search and Rescue), CalFire and First 5 California also attended, distributing safety information.
More than 500 people visited the park that day, drawn in by DropZone’s social media promotions.
• To help raise community awareness, a Food Truck Festival was held at the park. It was a cold, rainy day, but 4,000+ showed up! A big success just from blasting the event on Facebook.
• At the launch of CampZone, a summer day camp program, early enrollment was very low. But after a social media campaign and circulation of a brochure, it had a huge waiting list.