Earlier in the summer, I signed up for e-mails from four well-known theme parks across the country and I've been chronicling my experience as a subscriber in a series of posts. Overall, the e-mails I received have been about what I expected, with good aspects as well as areas that could be improved. Recently however, Dollywood disappointed me.
On July 14th I received an e-mail from Herschend Attractions with the subject line Herschend Family Entertainment Internet Study 2010. On July 17th, I got a second e-mail from the same sender with the subject line Local Attraction Online Travel Planning Study. Now, I'm thinking, "who the heck is this?" since I've never heard of them before, and my first instinct is to mark as spam and delete. But then, I look up Herschend Attractions and it turns out they are Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation and they own several properties, including Dollywood.
The content of the message states they are reaching out to select guests at various properties to ask them their opinion. Well, I'm not actually a guest, I'm an e-mail subscriber, so right off the bat, there's no way I'm taking the survey. In addition, by using the permission I gave to Dollywood to send me e-mail from Herschend, my opinion of Dollywood takes a nosedive. I went back and checked, and when opting in to Dollywood e-mail, there is no option to select other Herschend properties, or take part in surveys.
I think the thing to learn from this experience is to look at your program from the consumer's point of view. I'm sure to the execs, it seemed like a great idea to send a survey to their entire database and ask them about their travel plans or entertainment likes and dislikes. But to me, the recipient, this came out of nowhere, and did not build on the relationship I already had with Dollywood. A better tactic would have been to segment the list by property, then create a message specific to that property. I can tell you, if I had gotten an e-mail from Dolly asking me to help her out and take a quick survey, I would have done it.
What do you think? Am I overreacting? Do you think this tactic is fair and effective? I would love to hear your comments.
Liz Lynch, communications editor, e-Dialog