People assume that amusement parks are all fun and games, but I learned a great deal from working in that environment.
One of the things I learned was the difference between a customer and guest. If you think of each customer as a special guest, you elevate the way that you treat each person you interact with. I carried that idea over into every other job I’ve had in my career.
I also discovered the importance of front-of-the-house and back-of-the -house. Amusement parks are designed to create an experience for the guest—a place where they can forget their day-today cares and visit a completely different world that’s primarily make-believe. All of that happens out in the front, and any of the operational details are handled behind-the-scenes so as not to detract from the guest experience. That’s something I still keep in mind today: Keep all the behind-the-scenes details out of sight to create a better ambiance.
Getting the details right was another very important lesson I learned at my first job. I got to meet a lot of different types of performers working in the park because we handled all the VIP guests in our department. One day, we had this really well-known rock band coming into town. It was in their contract to have a bowl of green M&M’s in their dressing room, which we made sure to do for them. I thought it was a very unusual request, but my boss explained that requests like these are added into contracts to see if you’re reading them thoroughly and paying attention to the details. The bowl of green M&M’s was a signal you had paid attention and got the details right.
It really impressed upon me how specific details are important. I tell young people who are getting into public relations or marketing that it is all about the details. It’s very important to pay attention to all those moving parts because they combine to make a whole. If a part is missing from the project, it will be noticeable in the end. So, I like to tell them the green M&M’s story.”
—As told to Melanie Pagan