Get ‘em while they’re HOT!

Many tourist railroads rely on Volunteers to keep the wheels turning.  We know from our experience working with railroads that many Volunteers were Guests first.  It may have been a Santa Train, or a Charter (a bridal shower or bachelor party) or maybe, Father’s Day.  Somehow, they rode the train, had fun, and decided to get involved.  

So how do you engage your Guests and invite them to Volunteer?   

Broadcast the invitation to volunteer on all channels.   

Post clear and easy to find information on your website.  Detail the types of skills needed and tasks to be done.  Photos of current Volunteers “at work” doing fun stuff will go a long way.

Post photos and video of Volunteers at work or enjoying the annual banquet or awards ceremony on your social media.  With permission, tag the Volunteers pictured so their friends can see what they are up to – they may want to join in too.

Depending on your business rules, eg. you may require volunteers to join as members first, or take a course for certification, you can invite Volunteers to register online either during the ticket purchase process or through a link on your website.  An automatically generated “post-excursion email” may include information on volunteering. The Guest can provide their contact information on a sign up form and indicate areas of skill or interest.  That’s a “hot lead”.  Follow up is key to successful recruitment. An email notification automatically sent to your Volunteer Coordinator when a prospective volunteer submits the interest form prompts them to follow up and take the next step with the prospect. That may be a phone call, another email inviting them to a workday, or registering them for a required training.

Day-old donuts?  No thanks!  Better to get ‘em while they’re HOT!

Do you know your ABCs?

Always Be Closing sounds like a high-pressure sales tactic. It brings to mind the Alec Baldwin character in the 1992 film, Glengarry Glen Ross, berating his sales team ”Coffee is for Closers”. But A-B-C is really just a reminder to ask for the order. And once the order is in hand, to invite the buyer to take the next step.

P0E2BW Original Film Title: GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS. English Title: GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS. Film Director: JAMES FOLEY. Year: 1992. Stars: ALEC BALDWIN.

Online, asking for the order can be as simple as placing a “BUY NOW” button where the user can easily find it and navigate through to check out. What’s next?

The next step might be an offer to add something to the shopping cart on check out. Many retailers (DSW, TJMaxx) load the checkout aisle with last minute impulse items. Retailers will collect an email, offer a credit card or a frequent shopper club.

An offer at check out can be an “Extra” or a “Promise”. Extra = purchase an additional something. Promise = agree to do something

On the railroad, an Extra, or “UpSell” could be something like a wine glass or a T-shirt. ice cream, chocolates, a box lunch. Or, an experience: eg. a mine tour, museum pass, zip-line. Even a convenience or privilege such as pre-paid parking, preferred waiting area access. A “Promise” is an agreement to do something. For example: Subscribe, Join, Volunteer, Donate. Each of these actions can be the initial step in building a longer-term relationship.

Extras and Promises can increase the transaction value/gross sales revenue. Promises kept extend the relationship with the buyer into the future where you can again ask for the order.

Effort and expense were invested into selling the first ticket, perhaps through paid advertising, social media posts, emails, brochures, telephone calls. Increase your return on investment by knowing your A-B-C’s.

What's Next


They came. They rode. What’s next?

There are many possible outcomes or next steps for Guests who have ridden your train.

Will they

➢ Become a Member?
➢ Refer their friends or post a positive review online?
➢ Sign up to Volunteer
➢ Purchase tickets for an upcoming excursion
➢ Make a Donation

Follow up with your Guests and encourage them to take a next step. A Post-Excursion email can be sent automatically to Guests one or more days after their train ride. “Thanks for riding with us” is a great place to start. Follow with “The Ask”. An invitation to become a Member, or to Volunteer, complete a survey, leave a review on TripAdvisor, Like your Facebook page, etc. Close with “The Offer”. “Come ride with us again soon” with an Offer Code for a discount on the next Special Event on your Excursion Calendar. Example: follow-up Santa Trains with Valentines or Easter Bunny. Prefer not to discount Special Events? No problem, offer something else as an incentive. A complimentary rose for Valentines. A chocolate bunny for Easter.

Every Guest interaction is an occasion to take the next step in building valuable relationships; Members, Volunteers, families who return year after year. DTS™ provides tools to cultivate and strengthen relationships. Your move.

Santa Claus is comin’ to town


Trains are sold out, volunteers are scheduled, candy canes, cocoa, and cookies are stocked. Your team is ready to create some magic and make some Holiday wishes come true. You are READY! But what about your Guests, are they prepared? Do they know what to expect? Do they know what is expected of them?

Holidays can be a stressful time. So much to do, gifts to wrap, decorations to hang, cookies to bake. How can you help alleviate some of that stress? Eliminate surprises! Make sure your Guests know everything they need to know in order to have a great experience riding your train.

A pre-excursion email can be sent automatically to Guests one or more days in advance of their excursion. With a special event train, such as Santa, tickets may have been purchased well in advance, sometimes months in advance. Receiving a “Looking forward to your visit,” email a few days before the event can serve as a pleasant reminder. “Right! That’s THIS weekend!”

The message can also include valuable information on what Guests can expect.
Examples:
• What to wear…PJ’s!
• What to bring…Smiles!
• Any last minute travel directions, eg. road construction updates, detours
• How long is the ride?
• When to arrive…Early!
• Where to park…Santas’ helpers will direct you
• Check-in procedure…Nice? Here, Naughty? There
• Bathroom info…Depot? On the Train?

When your Guests are prepared and “know the drill” there will be less stress for everyone including your staff and volunteers. Happy Guests will be back!