In Focus: Daniel Cuffe, Director of Park Operations, Dubai Parks and Resorts
7 years ago by Usman Ghani
In an exclusive interview with CustomerService.ae, the Director of Park Operations at Dubai Parks and Resorts, Daniel Cuffe talks about the various attractions and focus on guest experience at the theme park. He highlights the use of digital and technological innovations to meet customer expectations and how dedicated guest services teams are available to offer a memorable theme park journey. He also speaks about empowerment and training of staff to make customers feel at home, along with assessing customer feedback on a regular basis through different tools to create an enjoyable experience.
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“OUR TEAM IS EMPOWERED TO MAKE SURE OUR GUESTS HAVE AN AMAZING
Q: What are the main attractions being offered by Dubai Parks and Resorts in terms of unforgettable customer experience?
Daniel Cuffe: Dubai Parks and Resorts is the region’s largest integrated theme park destination comprising three theme parks: MOTIONGATE™ Dubai, a movie inspired theme park showcasing some of Hollywood’s most beloved characters from DreamWorks Animation, Columbia Pictures and Lionsgate; Bollywood Parks™ Dubai, a first-of-its-kind family theme park that showcases rides and attractions based on the authentic Bollywood experience; as well as LEGOLAND® Dubai, a unique, interactive theme park for families which brings the well-known LEGO® bricks to life in a playful learning environment; and LEGOLAND® Water Park, the region’s first water park catering to families with children 2-12. Expected to open in late 2019, Six Flags Dubai will be the destination’s fourth theme park and the region’s first Six Flags theme park.
The entire destination is connected by Riverland™ Dubai – a uniquely themed retail and dining destination at the heart of Dubai Parks and Resorts, and guests can stay at the Lapita™ Hotel, a Polynesian themed family hotel part of the Marriott Autograph Collection.
Q: What are your processes for crowd management?
Daniel Cuffe: Our resort utilizes a number of systems behind the scenes to help make sure our guests have a comfortable and enjoyable experience. We start with tracking the ticket sales online and from our Group Sales team to get fairly accurate daily attendance projections – in addition to historical data and regional and international school holiday schedules. Once our guests arrive, each park knows exactly the number of people we have inside at any moment allowing our staff to react accordingly. We are even starting to implement location-based technology which will give the management team a clear understanding of how guests move throughout the park and if one area is busier than another.
Q: How often do you conduct customer service trainings for your staff and what are the key skills that you focus on?
Daniel Cuffe: I am a firm believer in never stopping guest service training – and that philosophy is key to making sure our guests have the best visit possible, and our team is empowered to make sure our guests have an amazing experience. While we regularly hold classroom training, we want to make sure guest service is the top priority for our team. With that in mind, we utilize daily shift briefings to discuss good (and sometimes not-so-good) practices and how we can improve.
It’s important that everyone understands that our theme parks are very much like our own home – and we need to treat each and every guest visiting the park exactly like we would if they were visiting our home. With the warmth, empathy, and the hospitality that guests might not expect at such a large development.
Q: Can you share with us some innovative technologies that are being used by Dubai Parks and Resorts to enhance customer happiness?
Daniel Cuffe: One of the most important tools we can provide our guests during their visit is accurate information. We use some really great technologies throughout the parks to ensure guests have all the important information they need to make the best of their day – from accurate wait times for the rides to upcoming show times for our amazing live performances – it’s important that guests have this at their fingertips. We have a great mobile App that guests can download for free to keep them updated during their visit, as well as digital information boards located throughout the parks that they can spot at a glance.
When it comes to great guest service, nothing beats face-to-face interaction. That’s why we make sure that there is always a member of our team close by in all areas of our parks. We also have an amazing management that, when they are on duty, spend most of their time out in the park – easily accessible and ready to help our guests at any time!
Q: What kind of facilities do you have available for customers with special needs?
Daniel Cuffe: When designing a theme park, it is critical to make sure that guests with special needs and disabilities can equally enjoy their visits to the park like everyone else. This doesn’t stop at the restaurants, retail stores, and gardens – but this also includes our rides, attractions, and shows as well. All of our attractions have special seating areas and access privileges for guests with special needs – and, even more so, many of our rides even utilize specially-designed vehicles to assist guests with boarding the attraction.
Here at Dubai Parks and Resorts, we’ve made it a priority that the family can enjoy the theme parks together. We want to make sure that everyone in the family, including those with special needs, have an amazing experience with us!
Q: What kind of loyalty and rewards programs do you have in place for returning customers?
Daniel Cuffe: The key for a successful theme park is to offer a well-priced Annual Pass program. This not only encourages repeat visits for guests who live in the region – but also provides families a good value. This is especially important for families here in the UAE who frequently have friends and family members visit and are looking for memorable activities for them to enjoy.
For less than the price of three individual visits, we offer an entire year’s worth of amazing entertainment, rides, and attractions. Not to mention some great discounts on food, retail, and even shows like the incredible Jaan-e-Jigar spectacular at Bollywood Parks™ Dubai!
Q: How do you assess customer satisfaction and what is your methodology for gathering feedback?
Daniel Cuffe: We are constantly assessing guest feedback on our resort – it’s critical for any organization to make this a priority. This is the first and most important tool in making sure what we are doing is right (or wrong!). Behind the scenes, we have a team of experts monitoring various social media platforms as well as travel websites – ready to respond to guests who have had an amazing experience, and to immediately take care of those who’s visit didn’t meet their expectations. At the parks, we have dedicated Guest Services teams at each park focused entirely on taking care of guests with special requests and managing any feedback we receive throughout the day from our in-park guests. Finally, we have a number of tools to collect feedback from our guests visiting the park – from online surveys to even a team of experts in the park who sit down with our guests for a few minutes and ask important directed questions allowing guests to rate their experience.
All of these tools allow us to track various key Guest Satisfaction indexes, from park cleanliness to staff friendliness, on a weekly and monthly basis.
Q: What kind of online customer support do you offer to address queries and make reservations?
Daniel Cuffe: Dubai Parks and Resorts has a wonderful team working behind the scenes to ensure our guests have the support they need when considering a visit to the parks and making that all-important reservation. The Resort’s primary website, as well as each of the parks’ individual websites provide an incredible amount of information and guidance to help our guests plan their visit. We have our dedicated customer service team and call center that are always available through our website and via our toll-free number to provide any information or assistance they may need.
Q: What are some upcoming plans and developments for a better customer experience in the future?
Daniel Cuffe: Dubai Parks and Resorts hit a major milestone in December – celebrating the grand opening of our amazing resort. We are the largest development project in Dubai since the 2008 financial crisis – and what an incredible project for Dubai, the region, and the world!
Now that all of our parks are fully open, that doesn’t mean we are slowing down! We will continue to improve our guest experience using some very cool new technologies that we plan to roll-out later this year. In addition, we are developing some amazing new special events and festivals that will round out a truly memorable 2017!
About Daniel Cuffe
Daniel Cuffe is Director of Park Operations at Motiongate Dubai. He has worked on the project for four years and after being a key player in the design of the park, now has the privilege of overseeing operations of the park. Prior to working in Dubai, Daniel worked in Singapore for five years where he was Director of Operations at Universal Studios Singapore and, prior to that position, enjoyed the role of Senior Manager of Safety & Compliance for the Resorts World Sentosa Attractions Group.
A graduate of Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration in New York, Daniel started his hospitality career in the hotel business – working his way through various departments until he earned the role of General Manager. He later moved to Orlando Florida and joined the team at Universal Orlando to assist with opening their newest theme park, Islands of Adventure, back in 1999.