Ideas to Increase Secondary Revenue
Admission tickets, season passes, food and beverage sales, and merchandise purchases are primary revenue sources for amusement parks and attractions. But there is a wealth of secondary revenue sources that can earn extra money as well. Here are some cash-generating ideas worth considering.
Cabanas with Prescheduled Food Deliveries
Renting poolside cabanas is a popular secondary revenue source, but offering scheduled food deliveries to these cabanas is an additional money-maker being pursued by Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana. Guests book their meal choices and delivery times when they book cabanas either online or in-person. When it’s time to eat, food turns up conveniently at the cabana. There’s no need to send a family member into the park to pick up food or flag down a busy waiter during the lunch rush.
The result is a win-win for everyone. Guests can stay within the comfort of their cabanas at mealtime, while Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari sells family-style platters.
“The value here for guests comes from saving time by not waiting in a food line,” says Matt Blumhardt, the park’s vice president of revenue operations. “For the park, the prescheduled delivery window requires far less labor than traditional wait staff service. It also allows us to spread out the food production over a longer period of time versus everyone ordering at once.”
Bring in Special Events—with Separate Admission Charges
Brazil’s Beto Carrero World, located by the Atlantic Ocean in the southern state of Santa Catarina, is one of the biggest theme parks in Latin America and brings in more than 2 million visitors per year. With a large customer base, the park has been quick to take advantage of the opportunity to generate secondary revenue through admissions, bringing nonpark visitors to its premises as well.
To make this happen, Beto Carrero World holds several sporting competitions during the year that attract audiences from Brazil and neighboring countries, says CEO Rogério Siqueira. These events include “marathons and races with circuits inside and outside the park, cycling events, motorcycle meetings, kart competitions at Beto Carrero International Karting Track, and other sports events,” he says.
Beto Carrero World is also home to major admissions-charging music events such as Brazil’s VillaMix Festival. “We have strategic partnerships with niche audiences who hold events here, such as the celebration of World Dance Day with the Bolshoi Theater School,” Siqueira says. “The Brazilian unit of the famous Russian Bolshoi is located in a city close to Beto Carrero World.”
Extend Attractions Hours into the Night
Just because the park is winding down for the day and the sun is going down, it doesn’t mean the attraction has to stop generating revenue. Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Zhuhai, China, keeps the cash flowing through its “Ocean Sleepover” immersive overnight experience. Guests are entertained by eight gigantic whale sharks and other underwater life as they sleep next to one of the world’s largest ocean aquariums in their own two-person tent. “Without the hustle and bustle of the day, this offers guests a vastly different experience, while making use of the attraction even in its after hours,” says Paul Yuen, general manager of Chimelong Ocean Kingdom. (For more on how aquariums and museums are hosting overnight events, turn to p. 189.)
Use Digital Technology to Create Custom Ride Experiences
The use of digital technology in today’s rides—especially rides that use digital video projection and virtual reality (VR) headsets—offers many secondary revenue opportunities.
For instance, “you can offer guests who pay a premium access to different visual experiences in dark rides, either in sections set aside for them alone or custom video shown to them using VR goggles,” says Kevin Barbee, founder and chief parkitect of Kevin Barbee Experience Design (KBXD). “Using preshot video, you could even incorporate them into the ride itself.”
Charge for Premium Tours
Premium tours combine behind-the-scenes sneak peeks to paying guests along with preferred access to rides.
Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari started offering premium tours during the 2019 summer season. “‘The Guide to Ride Tour’ ($249 per guest) offers guests a four-hour escorted tour with expedited access to our attractions,” Blumhardt says. “While we do not offer a traditional ‘front-of-line pass,’ this has been a great alternative for us since the impact on the overall guest experience is minimal due to the small number that we sell. We also offer an ‘EarlyBird Tour’ ($199 per guest) where guests are escorted to the top of ‘The Voyage’ for a great photo opportunity as the park is waking up from its sleep.”
The “EarlyBird Tour” finishes with the first launch of the day on the park’s “Thunderbird” wing coaster.
Create Party Rooms in Existing Restaurants
Restaurants inside amusement parks usually have some room to spare, and even during peak periods, some restaurants tend to be less packed than others due to their locations within the park. These underused spaces can be transformed by building party rooms inside them, offering rentable spaces that can earn extra money for the park without compromising the restaurant’s overall capacity and sales performance.
This is what they’ve done at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari. “We completely overhauled our biggest restaurant at the front of the park this year, and during the redesign, we decided to add party rooms,” Blumhardt says. “We now offer pizza parties for birthdays out of this room.”
Build Hotels and Attractions Outside the Gate
Hotels and additional attractions outside a park’s gate can capture more of guests’ money before and after they arrive on-site.
For instance, Legoland California Resort in Carlsbad opened Legoland Water Park and Sea Life Aquarium.
These additional attractions facilities, together with special events and other secondary revenue projects, can lead to a large payoff. “When we get together sports and fun, entertainment and fantasy, we increase the opportunities for selling and building customer loyalty,” Beto Carrero World’s Siqueira says.
Don’t Forget the Fringe Season
The fringe season, or shoulder season, refers to the days before and after the core season, when amusement parks and attractions are not open for business but are still keeping up with bills and planning ahead.
Ideally, attractions identify ways to earn secondary revenue during the fringe season, and many are now doing so using unique celebrations tied to seasonal events.
“The best example of the fringe season extra spend is Halloween,” says Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc. and a past president of IAAPA. “It’s our industry’s largest single cross-promotional event. All of the destination parks do it, along with the majority of the regional parks.”
The secondary revenue generated by Halloween is so substantial, many parks are now running winter-themed events in December to capitalize on the holiday spirit. (Learn more about how special events and new entertainment offerings can grow attendance on p. 205.) “This too is a very successful extension of the season, with these events often attracting people to the park who haven’t come here during the core season,” Speigel says.
James Careless is a Canada-based writer who covers the attractions industry for Funworld.