Massimiliano Freddi is the Founder and CEO of Wonderwood, an adventure park in Italy where “little ones can have grown-up adventures and grown-ups can become children again for a day.” Massi is also the Second Vice Chair of IAAPA and will be taking the reins as chair in 2024. In this fascinating and inspiring conversation, Massi talks about resistance, being close to the product and the power of word of mouth.
“People aren’t waiting their entire lives for you to open your venue. They have busy lives.”
There are many forms of resistance when it comes to starting and running a business, and the first one we often have to overcome is our own resistance to taking action or following through on our dreams. Wonderwood is a great example of what can be accomplished when you stop thinking about what holds you back and begin thinking about the path forward.
Resistance can also look like guests not choosing your location as the place where they want to spend their time and money. We have to realize that as much as we are behind our product and that we believe in it, not everyone is sitting around just waiting for your gates to open. This means finding new and innovative experiences to entice them, as well as creative marketing strategies to build awareness.
Being close to the product
“I love getting 5-star reviews, but I’m not growing from that.”
Massi explained that one of the drivers for wanting to open his own park was so that he could be closer to the product, i.e., the guest experience. He takes pride in the fact that he learns so much by watching and listening to the guests in real time.
Massi also shared that while he loves hearing about the great things the guests are experiencing, he recognizes that growth lives in the uncomfortable state of getting constructive feedback. Massi and his team seek this out in order to find ways to take the guest experience to the next level.
The power of word of mouth
“Wonderwood is a safe and beautiful place where people leave better than they arrive.”
“Transformation” is a word Massi used to describe the experience at Wonderwood. Building confidence, competence and inspiring guests to take on challenges that may not have taken on in other walks of life. That leads to a transformative experience.
When people have a good time, they will tell a few people. However, when their lives are transformed, they will tell everyone, and that is the kind of word of mouth Massi and his team attempt to drive every single day. Word of mouth advertising is not seen as a marketing initiative, but an operational one where the experience is laid out, and honest feedback from guests becomes the most powerful (and cost-effective) marketing campaign available.
To learn more about Wonderwood, you can visit their website or check them out on Facebook or Instagram. To connect with Massi directly, he suggests LinkedIn or sending him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This podcast wouldn’t be possible without the incredible work of our amazing team:
- Scheduling and correspondence by Kristen Karaliunas