The Challenges of Multi-Contractor Management for Cultural Attractions

As a guest, you have certain expectations of your host. Make you feel welcome. Serve refreshments. Keep you entertained. A quality guest experience is guided by a host who knows how to manage every aspect of that journey. Guest expectations extend beyond dinner parties, and into business spaces and cultural attractions.

As a cultural attraction, your guests also expect a certain level of service and care. To offer the seamless experience that guests expect, many attractions from zoos to museums and aquariums hire external providers to help offer the amenities that make guests want to stay longer.

While this approach is good for business, and also good for providing a quality guest experience, managing multiple external contractors who help provide a variety of culinary and retail options can get complicated, if not costly.

Below, we’ll highlight the value of outsourcing your services externally, what to watch out for when partnering with multiple contractors, and solutions to managing everything seamlessly both for your contractors and your guests.

Why the Guest Services Landscape is Important

Similar to being a good host, guest services are integral to the quality experience that keeps your guests coming back. The four core aspects to guest services include:

  • Dining & catering: Exemplary food and catering services for your guests, including high quality and locally sourced ingredients and better-than-snack-bar menu options.
  • Retail: A diverse range of products and seamless high technology services that drive revenue.
  • Admissions: Every aspect of the ticketing process from strategy & operations, to finances & reporting.
  • Management Services – From janitorial to rides management and everything in between.

These four services make up the backbone of every guest’s experience at your cultural attraction.

It’s these components that are most often mentioned within a review of your attraction. Because of that, the quality or lack thereof can make or break an otherwise neutral experience and determine whether you have repeat guests or grow through word of mouth. Making each above aspect memorable for every single guest will make the visit special. And it’s that special experience that will earn positive reviews, referrals to friends, and return visits..

The Trouble with Managing Multiple Contractors

With so many supply chain and people management challenges surrounding food, retail, and admissions, it can be nearly impossible to do it all on your own. Outsourcing these services could be integral to running your business well, but outsourcing to multiple contracting companies will present its own challenges. When things go awry, it can hurt instead of enhancing your guest experience. Below are three different challenges that could arise from managing multiple contractors.

It’s difficult to onboard and manage multiple contractors.

A solid contractor relationship process is integral to the continuity of the guest experience. Formalizing how you contract and onboard new contractors will synchronize how they work with your attraction over time. Regular collaboration meetings and strategy sessions will give you a birds eye view of their services and ensure that the value they are providing is continuing to enhance your mission statement and increase your revenue. While this level of collaboration can be achieved with one contractor, it is often hard to manage multiple contractors at this level.

Managing multiple contractors piecemeal makes it harder to have a holistic view and deeper insight into your guest journey.

It’s also important to consider partnering with the guest journey in mind and how your customers spend money across all your services. With different contractors controlling different aspects of your brand, it can prove difficult to get a holistic view about how your visitors are spending their time and money across your cultural attraction. Without this insight, you risk losing out on revenue or new opportunities to continue to improve your guest’s cohesive experience over time.

No ability to cross promote products through retail, food and admissions.

Finally, it would be remiss to not also consider the marketing component of managing multiple contractors. If every contractor is handling a different aspect of your business, promotion across different service lines of your cultural attraction is much harder, if not impossible to achieve. For example, bundling souvenirs with ticket purchases or restaurant discounts with a season pass to your location. In addition, finding opportunities to cross promote on-site becomes even more challenging. For example, providing guests with the opportunity to purchase retail products while waiting to place their lunch order or grabbing a coffee while shopping for their kids. Finding opportunities to cross promote is key to long-term revenue growth. Hiring contractors in silos makes that very difficult to do.

Long-Term Solutions to Guest Service Management

Managing the challenges that come with multiple-contractor relationships can feel like a game of ‘whack-a-mole’ but it doesn’t have to. Solving your challenges around process, hiring, and ongoing communications, can be handled in one of three ways.

  • The high-investment option: Stop outsourcing and bring everything in-house. Hire extensively and create teams around all of your needs. This option takes a great deal of time, money, and man-power. For a smaller organization, it may not be possible to do so and still provide a quality guest experience.
  • The high-effort option: Start from the bottom and build out extensive processes and procedures for contracting, onboarding, and communication with multiple contractors more cohesively. Once again, this may require a level of time and energy that you just can’t put in and also handle your guest’s experience. While you may feel your organization gains more expertise from specialized contractors, you actually may end up losing revenue long term.
  • The bundled option: Outsource the management of contractors to a one-stop guest services shop. This allows you to have communication with one organization and allow that organization to handle all the minute details from staffing to supply chain.
Make Multi-Contractor Management Easy

When it comes to multi-contractor management, an integrated guest services approach is a win for staff and guests. The more unified your operations are across food service, retail, and admissions, the more opportunities there are to drive revenue.

At SSA, we specialize in a unique and integrated approach to guest services. We drive revenue in an innovative way that feels effortless for every partner and seamless for each guest.

Curious about how to get started in enhancing your guest experience through managed contractor relationships? Learn about our services here.

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