Strategies in Theme Park Marketing - Essay Example

His major research interests focus on tourism management, tourist behavior, tourism forecasting models and impact studies. Phoebe W. Y. Chemung is a research assistant within the Department of Hotel and Tourism Management at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. ABSTRACT KEYWORDS: theme park, teeming, leisure, motivation, lifestyle Theme parks aim to create the atmosphere of another world and it is essentially the theme which becomes the main part of a theme park experience.

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Thematic tourism has become increasingly popular where travel is motivated by an interest in a particular subject or area rather than by the more rotational motivations such as idyllic scenery and climate. The drawing power of teeming is evident in the fact that it has, in recent years, become a catalyst for the growth of new destinations based mainly on thematic leisure. This study attempts to identify and describe a distinct and representative set of theme types and attributes in a theme park and examines the relationship between visitors’ motivation for visiting theme parks and theme preferences.

Weak to mod- irately strong relationships were found between motivation for theme park visits by visitors and their demographics and lifestyle patterns. Given the fact he theme park industry is still relatively young in Asia, the @endings of this study reinforce the need for Asian theme parks to focus strategically on satisfying lower-level needs, such as stimulation, by developing and marketing an adventure theme comparable with Western theme parks.

INTRODUCTION The theme park industry has witnessed a fairly rapid international expansion in recent years. In the US, the industry has reached maturity after 30 years of growth since the inception of Disneyland in the late asses, while in Europe, the industry has spread throughout Western Europe with a large concentration of attractions in Germany, France, the Benelux countries and the I-J. Reports from the Economist Intelligence Unit indicate that the worldwide trend of the theme park industry is growing. The North American theme park industry grew at a compound rate of almost 3 per cent in attendance over the past decade while Europe has become an attractive venue for corporate investment in theme park development by European consortia and large US corporations. Following Europe is Asia, which has been [email protected] as the world’s next leading international theme park market. In North Asia, Downloaded from Xv. Seepage. Com at University College Birmingham on December 27, 2014 Volvo.

NO. 4, 1999, up. 319В±332, & Henry Stewart Publications, 1356-7667 page 319 like Europe, the industry has experienced a rapid growth phase spurred on by strong demand, a growth which is expected to continue over the next ten years. 2 The number of theme parks has been growing in the Asian region. Since 1991, for example, there have been major theme parks developed in Sheehan, China, such as the China Folk Culture Villages, Splendid China and the Window of the World.

In Singapore, the Haw Par Villa Dragon World and Tang Dynasty Village were opened in 1991, in addition to its existing Santos Island which features several theme parks. In terms of visitor attendance, Hong Gong’s premier theme park, Ocean Park, attracted an annual attendance of 4. 1 million in 1996, a growth rate of 22 per cent over the previous year. 3 This suggests that the industry’s potential is enormous in Asia and at the same time implies that theme park developers are facing increasingly keen competition.

However, despite the performance of the industry and the tourism earnings contributed by its strong growth, there is still a lack of information available on theme parks’ performance, positioning and development in Asia. 4 Teeming and theme parks A theme park is ‘an amusement park that has hemmed attractions, be it food, costumes, entertainment, retail stores and/or rides’ according to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (APIPA). Theme parks are distinguished from other amusement parks in that there is a theme that runs through all or most of their attractions.

These attractions might be marketed under one general idea or personality, or they could comprise a cluster of different themes at one central location. 5 The theme, therefore, becomes the main part of the theme park experience. Even though theme parks were usually thought of as having a major theme, most of them in act contain multi-themes in terms of different themed areas. Some park managers use themes to increase attendance over a period of time, say, during festivals or special events.

However, even though the term ‘theme’ page 320 may sometimes be unclear, by reference to the [email protected] used by the APIPA, the themes [email protected] in this study may be thought of as: (I) the main theme which runs through all or most of the attractions, such as the movie theme of the Warner Brothers’ Movie World; (it) the sub-themes which are found in a park in the form of different themed areas like the Frontiersman, Adventured, Fantastical, Discoverable and he Main Street USA of Disney’s Magic Kingdom; and (iii) the transitional themes, that is, themes that are created for special events which only last for a certain period of time to boost attendance. Some examples are the Far West Festival and Space Festival as seen in Disneyland Paris in 1994 and 1995 respectively. Theme parks are becoming increasingly attractive to the tourist who has limited vacation time, as by their very nature, they provide a condensed holiday product. 6 A good example is Disney’s new ‘Animal Kingdom’ in Florida which replicates a safari park in East Africa.

Theme parks aim to create the atmosphere of another worlds and t is essentially the theme itself that creates such an atmosphere. A theme represents a story line or framework which highlights a particular attraction at a destination. 8 It attempts to tell a story and through this story the visitor is transported to another place and a unique experience is created. However, since theme parks are still a relatively new concept in tourist attractions,9 there is a paucity of literature on success and failure of theme parks around the world. Past studies have focused primarily on theme park selection,10 visitor behavior,11 visitor segmentation etc but not on the intrinsic alee of the theme park D the theme itself.

Competitive teeming Recent years have seen the emergence of many themes, only limited by imagination. For example, there have been themes that were based on the success of a product, such as Legends in Denmark, and others that were built on the mythology of a culture like the Haw Par Villa Dragon World in Singapore. The more successful parks have been Wong and Chemung able to use the theme to create a competitive advantage over the others. Teeming promotes the creation of a whole new atmosphere based on the unique experience that a theme park offers. For instance, in all the Disney properties, there is a fantasy element that allows guests to escape the urban setting and go to places they dream about. 3 Thematic tourism, in fact, represents tourism with a relatively narrow focus, where trips are motivated by an interest in a particular subject or area rather than the more traditional motivations such as the lure of idyllic scenery and pleasant climate. More importantly, teeming in some ways is divorced from the idea of place, relegating the consideration of location to being the background for a theme, rather than being the primary motivating factor. 14 There are a number of advantages in hemming. First of all, teeming is important for creating an initial perception of quality. 15 Secondly, themes are means to be used to help boost attendance. For example, ‘themed’ discount programmer are created to aim at certain market segments. 6 They are likely to encourage repeat visitation, as a themed environment provides a unique, memorable experience which increases the probability that guests will return. Visitors will tell friends about their visits, providing effective word-of-mouth advertising. 17 Thirdly, teeming is a value-adding factor. The themed retail park ‘Knot’s Camp Snoopy’ demonstrated that ‘the mall with a hemmed entertainment experience will be superior to the mall without such opportunity’. 18 Fourthly, teeming allows coordination of retail merchandise, which can in turn increase the guests’ retail expenditure. 19 Finally, theme parks that use an easily recognizable and interesting theme will have a competitive advantage over those which do not. 0 This is especially so when there is very strong competition and the equipment is very similar D the way to differentiate is by teeming. 21 In addition, as the industry matures and visitors become more experienced and discerning, teeming may be needed for a more sophisticated market. The power of teeming or thematic tour- ism is evident in the fact that it has, in recent years, become a catalyst for the growth of new destinations based solely on thematic leisure. 22 Theme park developers have converted existing attractions into theme parks. To be more competitive and recover the loss of market share or [email protected], developers have to diversify their ‘product offering’.

For example, there has been the growth in demand for attractions with a space theme. Therefore, knowing what themes guests look for is essential to both potential and existing theme park investors. New types of theme parks are Ewing developed around the world which shift their focus away from the conventional features off ‘Disneyland’ type attraction and further differentiate themselves. This is evidenced a plan to develop a theme park at the site of the 1969 Woodstock music festival to recreate its counter-culture spirit and another based on crocodiles in Florida, named ‘Jungle Cross of the World’. 23 Purpose of study The purpose of the study is to examine the importance of the theme in the marketing of theme parks.

Since the theme is an important factor affecting the choice of theme parks by visitors, it is important to ascertain more accurately what visitors’ preferences are in terms of themes and how their demographic characteristics and lifestyle in-ounce such preference. More [email protected], this study seeks to identify and describe a distinct but representative set of theme types and attributes in a theme park; to Nod out the theme preference(s) of the theme park visitors; to examine the relationship between theme park visitors’ motivation (purpose of visit), demographics, chirography’s (lifestyle) and their preference(s) for themes; and to examine the importance of teeming in the marketing of theme parks.

Motivation for visiting theme parks Pearce and Determent’s leisure ladder provides a motivation framework to explain why people visit theme parks. 24 Five levels of need regarding theme park visitation are page 321 [email protected], with the highest level of need being listed as [email protected], followed by the need for self-esteem and development. The next level is relationship, which emphasis the need to build and extend one’s personal relationships. This is followed by the need for stimulation. People in this group are concerned with the management of their arousal levels with emphasis on fun and thrill rides. The lowest level is that of relaxation or bodily needs (see Appendix).

Apart from understanding the basic motivation for theme park visitation, it is necessary to Nod out why one theme park is chosen over another. The theme here plays a role in differentiating the more successful parks from the less successful ones. It has a twofold [email protected] First, the nature of the theme chosen will have an impact on the type of customers attracted to the park. Some themes may have a broad and general appeal which caters to a wide spectrum of visitors while others may be more focused and have a narrower appeal. Secondly, teeming allows the creation of an enhanced atmosphere and guest experience. These effects, in fact, create the appropriately desirable image crucial to services marketing.

Service marketing The theme park industry is part of the service component of the tourism industry. Owing to the intangible nature of services, the creation of an [email protected] image is critical for service marketing. Even though the image and the theme are not identical in nature, the theme helps project an image by the sort of theme chosen and the teeming. For example, the fantasy theme of Disneyland helps project its image of delight, fun and fantasy. Further, the extensive teeming of Disney gives a perception of high quality. The decision made by a consumer to purchase a product or service is directly in-nuanced by the image the individual has of himself/herself and the perceived image of the product or seller.

This may explain the psychological process involved when a visitor chooses to go to a theme park with a page 322 particular theme, say, an adventure theme; he views himself as adventurous. It can be postulated that the chirography’s of consumers help predict the sort of theme they prefer. Moreover, the service nature of theme parks make image creation a [email protected] task as it is intrinsically abstract. Thus, service marketers may be able to build the image of [email protected] reality and differentiate it from other realities’ by the presentation of tangible evidences and experiences simulating reality. By promoting a theme, customers can then use these created physical facilities and props to Judge service quality.

For example, teeming is often done with the careful choice of types of architecture, costumes and other settings displayed in the park. Theme preference In a study by McClure it was found that the type of theme is one of the factors affecting tourists’ preference for theme parks. 25 Results also indicate that there is a correlation between themes and attractions so that inconsiderable multi-segmentation strategies can be devised to cater to different market segments. For example, wet and wild themes correlate highly with family attractions. This type of theme can be used to attract younger people and families with children looking for thrills and excitement.

Moreover, research has revealed that international tourists with different cultural backgrounds exhibit distinct patterns of preference when they travel. Caucasians were found to be different from Asian visitors in terms of preference for theme park attributes concerning the nature of the attraction, activities and themes. 26 Furthermore, the importance of the cultural element in planning and designing theme parks has been emphasized by Gorger, who stressed the need to seek an appropriate philosophy of concept that re-acted Eastern thought and traditions for a park located in the Orient. 27 These important differences point to the need for more theme park studies to provide data for theme park developers catering to international tourists from diverse cultural backgrounds.

METHODOLOGY Theme types and attributes A detailed review of tourism and theme park literature and promotion brochures was conducted to Nod out the theme attributes of theme parks. Words used to describe the home or general atmosphere associated with the theme parks that appeared more than once were recorded. A list of descriptions was generated by a review of promotional literature, and was expanded by conducting interviews with Eve experienced theme park professionals who were asked to list all the theme types used by theme parks around the world based on their experience and knowledge. [email protected] Theme attributes were derived and content analysis was used to sort out the adjectives used.

Obvious duplication and overindulges descriptors were eliminated and a list of 75 attributes was compiled. As the list contained many descriptors that ere similar to each other, the latter were reduced to a smaller number and regrouped into attributes that were more likely to represent one single theme. Content analysis was to distinguish different theme types and, after regrouping, the resulting attributes were [email protected] into seven main ones. These theme types were then shown to the volunteers who had past experience in theme park settings to obtain further feedback for Nonliving the grouping of theme types. Table 1 shows the Anal grouping into seven theme types used in this study.

Motivation for theme park visitation To ascertain the motivation for theme park sitting, ten statements were constructed, based on Pearce and Determent’s leisure ladder for theme park settings, each stating visitors’ different reasons for visiting to theme parks. Table 1: Theme types grouping Type Attribute Adventure Excitement and action Frightening Mysterious Thrill rides Advances in society and technology Discovery Exploration of science and Laser Robot [email protected] Science @action Flavors of the world International village Miniature replicas Scenic spots World expositions Animals Floral displays Horticultural gardens Landscaping Marine life Natural wonders Ocean Wildlife Fantasy Futurism International