- About Longwood
- Tuition & Financial Aid
- Academics & Majors
- Student Life
- Offices & Services
News & Events
- News Releases
- Longwood in the Media
- Faculty & Staff News
- Trend Line
- Calendars & Events
- Longwood Magazine
- News Feeds
- Emergency Communication
- Office of Public Relations
- Suggest a Story
Text Size Print
2012 News Releases
Longwood student’s marketing strategy makes splash at Busch Gardens
December 11, 2012
Visitors to Busch Gardens’ Christmas celebration will be able to experience the park like never before, thanks to enhanced communication efforts launched by a Longwood student’s marketing idea.
While working at the theme park over the summer, Jake Smith ’13, of Newport News, developed a marketing strategy that was rolled out during the park’s annual Halloween event and is being expanded for the current Christmas celebration. The strategy allows the park to reach visitors on a high-tech, personal level, through visitors’ smart phones.
Smith pitched the idea of using QR codes—the smartphone-compatible barcodes—to offer park visitors the ability to unlock exclusive content about rides and other park attractions. This provides another way for the park to market its attractions and goods to visitors—one that is new to theme parks.
“The idea was first implemented this October,” said Smith. “The codes were posted around Halloween-themed attractions: at entrances to rides and in public gathering places where a lot of people would see it. It immediately got thousands of scans, which took people to a YouTube video that played a video and gave them a coupon at the end.”
Thousands of people watched the video, which thrilled park officials. Smith says it’s the next evolution of the way the park is already set up.
“Everything there is linked already,” he said. “Rides are themed a certain way, and the food and merchandise nearby all has the same theme. Using a QR code, the park can let visitors know about nearby amenities and further establish the theme.”
The usefulness is more widespread, however. In addition to appealing to a select group of people who want behind-the-scenes information on roller coasters, there is a group of park visitors who want useful information about the park: the nearest bathroom, the area for kids or the nearest food court.
Smith developed the idea while working over the summer on the park’s newest roller coaster, Verbolten. It was heralded as the most technologically advanced ride at the park, but Smith noticed that there was some decidedly “old-tech” that wasn’t reaching visitors.
“There was a video about the ride that played on a giant television screen while people stood in line. It was 45 minutes long, but nobody was paying attention. Most people were either talking to other people or playing on their smart phones. It got me thinking: we could potentially reach a lot of people by getting them on an ultra-personal level like their smart phone,” he said.
Smith presented the idea to park officials at the end of the summer, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. One of the Busch Gardens executives told Smith that the idea hit exactly on what the park wants to do.
For Smith, Busch Gardens isn’t the only company that can use his idea to reach potential customers. “From craft beer to basically any other industry that interacts with the public, there is the potential to reach people through these codes. It’s a matter of finding where the public is and offering them something that will make them scan a code,” he said. “The possibilities for this type of technology are limitless.”