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.
• 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!

Toddler in Lap…Maybe?


Slightly unsteady on their feet, they tend to “toddle”. The American Academy of Pediatrics defines a “toddler” as a child between the ages of 2 and 3. Now that we have that settled, what is the meaning of “Toddler in lap”?

Creates the image of a two-year old peacefully snuggling in a parents’ lap, right? Well maybe. Or maybe this particular toddler has been walking for months and can run, fast, from one end of a railroad car to another. Or, it’s a hot day, and holding a toddler on your lap is just too uncomfortable. Or this toddler is feeling independent and insists on sitting in their own seat. Toddler life, as any parent can tell you, can be unpredictable. Toddler in lap may be more of a guideline than a hard and fast rule.

On a regularly scheduled excursion there is usually enough wiggle room that a few squirmy toddlers are no problem. Some railroads don’t charge (or charge a nominal fee) for “Toddler in lap” and don’t bother to count toddler tickets in inventory. Works great until. . . . the Easter Bunny, Dinosaurs, or Santa come to town. Themed excursions are typically in higher demand and kid-centered themed events will be full of KIDS. There may be one or two toddlers on every reservation! In order for everyone to have a place to sit and a good time, it is best on these excursions to count Toddlers in inventory and mark their seat SOLD.

We have seen railroads alternatively describe the ticket type “Babe in Arms”. This term rather unambiguously implies a non-walking child, a baby less than 1 year old, or an infant. A child this young, does not walk and must therefore be held and carried. And that brings up the topic of cars seats and strollers, which we will discuss on another post.