Driving through Holland on US-31, you have seen the bright orange tile roofs, the giant wooden shoe, and the windmills. If you have children, then I am sure that they have begged you to stop, at Nelis Dutch Village (located off of US-31 and James Street in Holland). Nelis Dutch Village is a dutch theme park…buildings are in the traditional historic Dutch architecture, they have windmills, farm animals, a carousel, and other traditional Dutch activities and events (see their website for a more accurate description). The reason I am bringing up Nelis is because for the past three years they have deployed an ingenious marketing strategy. Since about three years they have offered a coupon in the local newspaper, The Holland Sentinel, a week before their opening for the season for free admission on their opening day for a family to the attraction. If you show up on opening day (Saturday April 25th) they will also give each member of your family a complimentary season pass to Nelis Dutch Village. Now why would this be a good idea? Well first off here are the rates for a pass to Nelis Dutch Village – Adults are $12, Seniors are $10, and Children are $6 dollars. For a family of four it would be $36 bucks, which is a little steep just to visit the theme park. And as an area resident you would not be interested in paying that amount of money just to visit. So maybe you take your kids there once just to check it out, but most likely you would not be going back anytime soon (or visit multiple times throughout the year). Also living in the area, the whole “Dutch” theme could get old quickly, and it is not something you would be interested in.
Now here is why I think that Nelis Dutch Village free season passes for area residents is a genius marketing strategy.
1) Activity – You get people into the park, most of which would not normally be there. Tourists see activity and that can make that attraction that much more appealing. Who wants to go to a dump with no activity or action, makes you question whether that place would be worth while visiting.
2) Return Visits – Area residents and their families will continue to come back multiple times throughout the year, and each time they come there is a chance that they will be spending money…
3) Money – Visitors spend money. Of course people with free season passes will not spend money on admission but they might on everything else. Like food, wooden shoes (shouldn’t your kids have a new pair every year?), souvenirs, candy, ice cream, feed for farm animals (they have a petting zoo) or any other add-ins they may have
4) Training – Training for your employees, keep them on their toes for when the tourists come
5) Additional admissions – if you have the season passes and if you have visiting family from out of town, and you are looking for activities…why not suggest the Dutch Village. Your family gets in free and maybe grandma and grandpa only have to pay $20 (senior discount) but you got everyone together for an activity.
In summary by offering these free season passes to local residents they are tapping into a market of people who would normally not visit the park. By inviting these residents into the park any day of the week it is going to benefit the park in one way or another. In my opinion, this is a low risk marketing initiative which must be paying off because this is the third year in a row that they have done this. It is a great example of out of the box thinking, they must have done their research on who their customers were and where they came from, and found a largely untapped market, and found a way to engage it.
Any other thoughts on why this is a good idea, or conversely, why you think they are stupid for doing this promotion.