What challenges has the business faced over the last 12 months, and how have you tackled these?
The recession of the last 6 years hit Diggerland badly because family and school budgets were cut. Basic necessities still had to be met, such as food on the table and therefore day trips out to attractions or theme parks were a luxury.
To overcome this, we increased promotional offers and made people even more aware of Diggerland, so our visitor numbers did not drop compared to other competitors.
What does your business do?
Diggerland is an adventure theme park where children and adults can ride, drive and operate real construction machinery.
Visitors can experience the thrills of spinning around fast in a Giant Digger bucket on the Spindizzy ride, operating a Giant JCB 806 Digger, racing around in a Go-Kart, getting lifted 50ft in the air by the Skyshuttle, whirling around on the Dig-a-Round carousel, letting the kids drive a REAL car and so much more!
In addition, Diggerland also boasts an indoor play area, souvenir gift shop and a reasonably-priced restaurant.
Do you import/export, and if so to/from where?
We have recently “exported” the Diggerland Theme Park concept to the USA. Diggerland USA opened in June 2014 and before their launch all of the Diggerland rides and drives were made by our sister company Masterhitch, and then shipped across to the new USA theme park in West Berlin, NJ.
What training and development do your staff receive?
We have rigorous training procedures for all staff dependent upon their job function. Much of the training is health and safety related due to the use of the large machinery used at each theme park. Staff must ensure that customers are kept safe when using the rides and drives.
Diggerland is extremely customer service focused. All staff are given an induction into the history of the business so that they can talk with ease to customers and answer any questions. All staff our trained on how to deal with customers in certain situations and how to remain calm and collected should an incident arise. All staff are encouraged to smile, say hello and engage with customers, wave, high 5 and ensure customers generally enjoy themselves.
Senior staff are trained in First Aid.
Continuous monitoring and assessment takes place to ensure that the high standards of our staff is maintained.
Head Office staff all meet with other departments and other companies within the H.E Group. Head Office staff are sent on courses dependent on their departments needs e.g. management courses, marketing related courses via the Kent Chamber of Commerce.
What impact has such training had on the business?
We have now got a high standard of staff and due to our second to none, outstanding customer service, we receive excellent feedback from our visitors, many of whom return to Diggerland time and time again and recommend us to their friends and family. Diggerland has been awarded the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence for 3 years running including 2014.
Do you have an apprenticeship/trainee programme? If so how many apprentices/trainees do you have?
Diggerland is a serious and active employer of 16-24 year olds, helping young people to enter the workplace to gain and develop their skills and experience.
We work with Springfield Education and Training (SET) Ltd, who is an award winning training provider offering training to both those in employment and those who are seeking a career.
In July 2013 we took on a Customer Service Apprentice, who has recently completed her apprenticeship and has been taken on as a full-time permanent member of staff working within our Diggerland Head Office, Customer Service and Bookings Department.
This year in July 2014, the Diggerland Marketing Department at Head Office have taken on a Social & Digital Media Apprentice to assist with all social media and on-line content and strategies to increase on-line engagement and increase visitor numbers.
What does your business do to be environmentally friendly?
We hold annual staff days whereby trees and shrubs are planted at our theme parks to provide a greener environment. This is important not only to heavily improve the landscaping of our sites but to also expand the habitat of wildlife and help species survive.
Our Kent site is an old landfill site and we manage the site carefully. We flare off the methane which helps reduce the damage to the o-zone layer. By burning the methane it produces carbon monoxide which is 100 times less harmful to the ozone of the atmosphere than methane.
In the last 4 years we have been heavily involved in installing solar PV panels on our roofs thus helping to reduce the effects of greenhouse gases by producing environmentally friendly energy.
We also use electric vehicles where possible as we find them environmentally friendly. These vehicles include our mini land-rovers and go-karts.
And anywhere we have to run diesel machines for our diggers, they run on tick over or idle again producing less pollution.
What does your business do to give back to the community?
Corporate Social Responsibility is extremely important to Diggerland. We give back to the community in various ways, such as:
Charitable donations – We give away thousands of tickets to Diggerland per year to charitable causes in order to help with their fundraising events. Recently we teamed up with Kent Messenger and their KM Treasure Chest initiative.
Schools – We give free tickets to school teachers and their families every season so that they may enjoy Diggerland at their leisure as well as to see the educational benefits of bringing classes for a visit, however this is not compulsory. In addition we provide schools with free tickets to assist with their fundraising for new equipment etc.
We give heavy discounts such as 50% off or enter the park for £5.00 at various times throughout the season and promote these offers via local press, social media, online websites and via our database. This means that customers from all levels of the financial spectrum can enjoy a day out at Diggerland.
This year Diggerland are sponsoring the Kent Charity Awards 2014, which recognizes the hard work and perseverance that charities and voluntary groups undertake to make the lives of others better.
How do you promote your business?
We promote our business locally and nationally via numerous and various mediums of online and offline advertising.
- Social Media Engagement
- Competitions and special offers on industry related websites
- Paid for advertising on industry related websites
- Text message advertising with promotional offers
- Newsletter bulletins via email
- Diggerland Mobile App for park information
- Diggerland Game App for kids – goes live in February 2015 (working with North West Kent College students)
- New Diggerland website launching February 2015
- Local and national newspaper advertising
- Radio campaigns
- Adverts in various publications locally and nationally
- Free press visits in return for reviews
- Use of leaflet distribution companies
- Partnerships/schemes with other companies to display our leaflets / provide discounts to customers or staff.
- Attending exhibitions, outdoor events and shows with our diggers and promotional materials.
- Diggerland merchandise and promotional items
- Departure packs for the kids to take away after their visit
- Teachers Go Free Campaign
- Celebrities Go Free campaign
- Press days
- Outdoor signage (motorway advertising)
Who are your local / national competition?
Our competition can be any other thing to do in the sun that either costs or doesn’t cost money.
We are a weather dependent attraction, as we are an outdoor attraction, we rely on good weather to bring the most amount of visitors.
We would compare ourselves mostly with Chessington World of Adventures, Legoland, Thorpe Park or Alton Towers.
However any attraction that appeals to a family audience with children between 5-15 years is a competitor such as Dickens World, Hop Farm, Kent Life, Historic Dockyard, Leeds Castle, Howletts & Port Lympne Zoo.
How are you different / better than your competition?
We are a unique attraction and we are the only attraction of its kind in the UK and globally. We are extremely well received and the attraction sells itself which is why we have done so well over the past 14 years and been able to open a further 3 sites across the UK and branch out in to America.
Our customer service is outstanding and second to none, we value our customers and do our utmost to ensure they have an exciting and fun-filled experience, which is what makes us stand out from the rest
Have you any unusual or well-known customers?
We have had lots of celebrities visit Diggerland over the years, including the Beckham children, Chris Evans, Davina McCall, The Castleford Tigers, Boxer Barry McGuigan, The DIY SOS team, British actress Roxanne Pallett, and more recently Olympic Gold Medalist James Cracknell & British Motorcycle Road Racer Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne!
What is your greatest achievement to date?
From the initial conception, we were told Diggerland would never work and that it was impossible to let children drive Diggers. We worked day and night to make it work, meeting with various organisations, governmental bodies and Health & Safety specialists to make the dream happen.
We are pleased, proud and honoured to say that after 14 years a local Medway grown attraction has increased visitor numbers year on year and has now expanded to have 3 other UK theme parks and now has expanded stateside!
What are your ambitions for the business for the next 5 years?
To carry on expanding the Diggerland brand and promote the overall Diggerland adventure theme park experience. To open another Diggerland theme park in Europe.
Diggerland is in the Medway Business Awards final!
Marketing Manager, Sherene Garvin-Mack said “It’s absolutely fantastic that we have reached the final 12! To be recognised for our hard-work, perseverance and for all the good that we do in the community is just a dream come true for the company. We can’t wait to hear the results at the Gala Evening on 21st November 2014. It would be brilliant if Diggerland won!”