For any facility or park manager, online reviews can be pleasing and they can be brutal, so here’s a checklist to provide the right commercial site furnishings to keep those comments positive and ratings high.
Online reviews are the new reality. Research shows that 91% of people regularly or occasionally will check out an online review before they visit a location. Not only for businesses, but you also for parks and public facilities as well.
The beauty of the internet is that this technology gives a voice to the average person. The bad thing about the internet is that technology gives a megaphone to people who are upset. Justified or not.
You may have the nicest, cleanest and most comfortable facility in the world. But if a visitor sits at a dirty picnic table, sees overflowing trash receptacles or steps in dog waste that wasn’t picked up just one time, that could be enough to set them off.
Because here’s another startling reality about online reviews.
Like anything, if people are content, they might not be motivated enough to take the time to write a positive review.
But if they are angry, they will find the time to post a bad review.
According to Review Trackers, 34% of consumers surveyed said they are more likely to write a review after a negative experience. Only 28% of consumers said they would leave a review after a positive experience.
Here are a few more important facts about reviews:
- 85% of consumers feel they know a place after they read up to 10 reviews
- 94% of consumers said a negative review convinced them to avoid a business
- 64% look first at Google for reviews
- 45% will check Yelp first
- 30% will check TripAdvisor first
- 23% will check Facebook first
- 84% trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation (this is a significant point, because we all know the power of word-of-mouth communication).
The whole online review process definitely will keep a facility, business and park manager on their toes. In that case, it’s very important to pay attention to every little detail. A minor item could result in a large number of very unflattering comments and a low rating. This is why you want to make sure the commercial site furnishings on your grounds are adequate in number and in tip-top shape.
(Side note: how many times have you read a review from someone who said they had a great overall experience, but because they experienced this __________ small issue, they felt compelled to give a lower rating. Very frustrating. Certainly not fair).
Commercial site furnishings give an important first impression to visitors
Don’t fret. The expert staff at the Park and Facilities Catalog is here to assist you. While we can’t help you manage all aspects of your facility or park when it comes to reviews, we can certainly help when it comes to outdoor park and commercial site furnishings.
Here’s a checklist you can use to make sure your site furnishings are in excellent shape and won’t create an opening for a negative review.
This checklist can also help create more positive experiences overall which hopefully will compel people to write great reviews to offset that unexpected complainer(s).
Commercial Site furnishings – does your facility offer an adequate number of places – park and commercial benches and picnic tables, for people to sit comfortably and relax? Are those benches and picnic tables in attractive areas with shade or surrounded by plenty of open space to stretch and enjoy some privacy?
Umbrellas – it’s hot out there. The past three years have seen record years for high temperatures. If you don’t have trees, then you need to provide shade. But the sun can be brutal on umbrellas as well. Commercial-grade outdoor umbrellas are the best way to go. These durable products can be ordered with Sunbrella fabric which is marine-grade and will last for years without fading.
Clean site furnishings – if you have plenty of park benches and picnic tables, are they clean? Maintained on a regular basis? Hint: metal benches and metal picnic tables with thick thermoplastic coatings are extremely easy to maintain. Many times all you need is soap and water to clean the surfaces and restore their luster.
Safe outdoor furnishings – wood deteriorates over time. It splinters. Rots. The frame becomes wobbly. Old and scratched metal benches and picnic tables will gather rust, which eventually corrodes the metal and the integrity of the supporting frame. Make sure your benches and picnic tables are sturdy and safe.
Trash receptacles – this is a problem that for some reason only seems to be getting worse. Perhaps that is because people are consuming more fast food products than ever before. Whatever the reason, a facility manager needs to be overly prepared for this issue. Because nothing will elicit negative reviews faster than litter and garbage strewn about the grounds.
The first question is, do you have enough trash receptacles? Are they positioned at strategic transition points such as entrances, exits or near benches and picnic tables? Secondly, have you conducted a trash audit at different locations? Because, you may have trash receptacles placed all around your grounds, but there may be a few that are constantly overfilled.
This is a danger zone. Because according to research conducted by Keep America Beautiful, litter begets litter. If people see a stuffed commercial trash can, they will be more likely to throw their trash on the ground near that trash receptacle rather than walk over to an empty one.
(This is why Walt Disney sat on a bench and observed how far a person would walk before they dropped their trash on the ground. He then made it a point to position trash receptacles every 30 feet at his theme parks. That standard is still followed today).
Cigarette receptacles – there might be a lot of trash out there from food and beverage containers, but the No. 1 source of litter by far, according to Keep America Beautiful, is discarded cigarettes.
Make sure you have plenty of smokers’ outposts on your grounds or trash receptacles with ash urns. Key transition points can be quickly overrun by unsightly cigarette butts if you don’t provide a place where they can be discarded. Most smokers recognize these cigarette receptacles and will throw their cigarettes in there because they know they will be extinguished properly.
Hot weather requires plenty of drinking fountains, for pets too
Drinking fountains – as we said temperatures out there are setting records and getting hotter. Do you have enough drinking fountains are your facility? Many people today know the importance of hydration and carry water bottles. Do you have a water bottle filler as well? Sweaty and thirsty people who can’t find a place to quench their thirst can quickly become unhappy reviewers.
Bike racks – more people in America bicycle today than ever before. According to Streetsblog.org, 100 million Americans ride a bicycle each year. The Millennial generation prefers to bicycle around town instead of drive.
Do you have an adequate number of bike racks on hand? What you don’t want to see is cyclists dropping their bikes on the ground for people to trip over. You also don’t want to see bikes locked to railings and blocking access for pedestrians. Plus, you don’t want people locking their bikes to trees or signposts.
Dog waste receptacles – there’s not much discussion needed here. If people keep stepping in dog poop, they are not going to be angry. Once again, if the facility has an adequate number of dog waste bags available, most people will pick up after their pets. Position a large number of dog waste receptacles at key entrance areas and spots that are popular with dog owners.
Dog park equipment – here’s something you can do if you want to elicit some positive reviews from dog owners. As you know, dog owners are passionate about Fido and Fifi. If you provide dog playground equipment at your dog park, you are very likely to generate positive reviews. Those products could include hoops, ramps, weave posts and hurdles. A tired dog is a happy dog. That also makes for a happy dog owner. And today, there are 78 million dogs out there. That’s quite a large segment of the population to cater to.
Doggie water fountains– it’s hot out there for all creatures. Be sure to provide a drinking fountain with a spout at canine level so both pet and owner can stay hydrated together.
Park charcoal grills – these days, with the current craze for BBQ, many people consider themselves to be top-level pitmasters. They like to show off their skills at their local park. But since so many people are now into barbecuing, it’s becoming harder and harder to find an open park grill.
Be sure to add plenty of outdoor charcoal grills at your facility. But make sure they are large, sturdy commercial-grade grills that can withstand constant use.
Speed bumps and other traffic control devices – as a park or facility manager, you might do such a great job attracting people to your location, that they fill up those parking lots very quickly. In that case, you want to make sure all those visitors are safe, especially from inconsiderate drivers. It’s smart to position plenty of speed bumps and signage to control traffic and make sure the hot rodders slow down.
Barricades and bollards – there may be some places at your location where you don’t want people to walk or drive. Be sure to place plenty of barricades or bollards at these spots to keep people safe. One bad accident can be a nightmare for months.
Patio furniture – the same thinking about warmer weather should be applied to outdoor patio furniture. The sun will be brutal. So it’s best to order commercial-grade patio furniture made out of recycled plastic or a hardy shorea or teak hardwood. Be sure your outdoor patio furniture is up to the challenge of looking good despite the weather.
Remedy and respond quickly to negative reviews
That’s a basic checklist to make sure your park and commercial site furnishings at your facility are up to grade.
Because here’s another reality about reviews, albeit an encouraging one.
If a person does happen to leave a negative review, a manager should immediately fix the situation and respond. Perhaps it’s too much litter or dirty picnic tables. Take care of it right away. (The Park and Facilities Catalog offers a ParkExpress program where we can quick ship many commercial site furnishings such as park benches, picnic tables and trash receptacles in just 1-3 business days and get them to you quickly).
People are forgiving. According to a survey by ReviewTracker, 45% of respondents said they are more likely to visit a business if the owner or manager responds to a negative review.
If fact, some experts say a manager who quickly fixes a problem and replies to the complaint will gain more goodwill for their location. Because that fast response gives readers the impression this park or business truly cares about their customers or visitors.
Reviews are the reality today. For park and facility managers, a one-stop resource for commercial site furnishings such as The Park and Facilities Catalog, can be a great partnership to keep those comments and ratings in the favorable column.