IAAPA 2006: Shapiro tells industry to stop thinking it's "mature"
Posted Friday, November 17, 2006 10:10 AM | Contributed by Jeff
Six Flags Chief Executive Officer Mark Shapiro says that he needs to find more products to fill a niche and make money at the same time. It's just one of the ways Shapiro urged an estimated crowd of 22,000 at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions' annual show to stop thinking about the industry as "mature" and redefine the ways it entertains.
In all honesty who better to tell the industry something like this than Shapiro? He's virtually an outsider and sees things from the other side unlike those in the industry. He's making a viable "complaint" and letting the people who design new products in on what is needed from a different perspective. It doesn't matter how long he's been running this or that or what he has or hasn't turned around. A problem seen and identified and explained is one step closer to being fixed.
He's not far off with the coaster DVD thing. Three of my enthusiast friends were at BGA yesterday and all bought $20 DVD's of their Sheikra ride. They were on a week-long trip of Florida, so $20 more was probably nothing.
The truth is that if anyone else in the industry said this, you'd probably praise him or her as being right. If Six Flags is not on better ground a year from now, then yes, we can all say he's full of crap, but I think it's too early to do that.
What exactly do some of you guys expect someone who has been asked to be the keynote speaker for a major industry conference expect him to do? Step up to the podium and say, "Well, one year later and we're still in the hole. Anyone have any ideas?"?
And I doubt he spoke to 22k people at the $75 a ticket GM meeting.
I'd listen to what he says. It's true. Read what he's saying. He is simply saying that amusement parks have grown stagnant in the United States and the industry needs to think of more ways to get the guest to return. One way is the use of technology for on ride videos, e-greeting cards another one. Face it, amusement parks haven't exactly embraced technology as a way to enhance the guest experience.
When you are in a hunk of debt, what do you expect the dude to say. Make more money off of your rides would be a good thing. Some park tried this already, so it's not like he's the first person to think of it. He didn't do much for this company, but bring it down more. So, why should we listen to him when he makes it sound like he's the smart guy. Produce, and then we will think you are smart.
Just read the article and again, I still really like what Shapiro says. I just wish we'd see him do more of what he says. I think his ideas and approach are very interesting and definitely forward thinking.
Also from the article:
"But Shapiro said the way to find stable financial footing also comes down to basics such as a clean park, friendly employees and fun costumed characters."
Hmmm. This seems to go back my idea that the guy gets it, but he's in a professional situation where his arms are tied much of the time.
Even better is the last bit of the article talking about Seabreeze president Rob Norris:
"He said theme parks need to capitalize on their ability to entertain families and echoed Shapiro's call to intensify how they vie for families' limited leisure time.
"We're competing against that soccer field," said Norris, president of Seabreeze Park in Rochester, N.Y."
The idea that theme parks compete against other forms of leisure entertainment more than each other is one that's been floating around with a certain segment of CB'ers for a while now. It's also a valid point.
Honestly, I think these guys get it and it's nice to see some forward thinking going on, because the years of Burke just slapping up some coasters and expecting people to come sure didn't work.
"The idea that theme parks compete against other forms of leisure entertainment more than each other is one that's been floating around with a certain segment of CB'ers for a while now. It's also a valid point."
Yay, I am a part of a *certain segment*...and this time it's a GOOD thing... ;)