Monday, March 22, 2010

An Evening WIth Mark Shapiro

Tonight, Six Flags hosted a conference call for what they called "Super Fans" of the theme park chain.

Over 75 people from across the United States participated in the call. The participants came from all walks of life. There were teenagers, parents, bloggers and website operators. (There was even a host of your favorite theme park podcast in the mix!)

After a brief introduction, Six Flags CEO Mark Shapiro took calls for 90 minutes on a variety of topics.

It was fascinating to hear the different types of questions that were asked. They ranged from the specific to the "coasterboy-ish."

One lady asked if there could be more gluten-free food in the parks. One man challenged Mark Shapiro to add more adult shows to Great Adventure. One teenager asked why they changed the lapbars on Bizarro.

One of the most interesting parts of the call was when a lady commented that she was able to use a "parent pass" (Parent Swap) at her home Six Flags park, but was unable to use the same system when she visited another Six Flags park.

Mark Shapiro said that he would get a message to all of his park general managers in the morning to make sure that the "parent pass" would be available across the chain.

It was great to see immediate action on something that an average fan requested.

I had a chance to ask the second question on the call and I made sure that it had a "Coaster Radio" theme.

Since one of our favorite all-time topics has been "Park Pet Peeves," I asked Mr. Shapiro to name a few of the Pet Peeves he has about the Six Flags parks. He had two candid answers:

The first Pet Peeve he mentioned was trash on the midway. He said that cleanliness in the parks is one of his top priorities. He said that every full-time employee is required to pick up trash if they see it on the pathways.

His second Pet Peeve was slow service, in the food stalls and on the rides. He said that there's nothing worse than waiting in long lines only to see the employees moving slowly. He said there is no room for slow and lazy employees at Six Flags.

He also said that sometimes he visits the parks "undercover" and experiences them as a regular guest. He said that if he sees slow operations because of slow employees, he makes sure there is a change immediately.

I really enjoyed listening to Mark Shapiro's thoughts on the past, present and future of the company. He's a very energetic CEO who is looking forward to leading Six Flags out of their current financial woes.

It also was refreshing to hear a CEO speak so openly and candidly about both the problems and successes that the company has been having. He was able to list off the assets and liabilities of each park that was mentioned.

It will be interesting to see where he takes Six Flags next.

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