SeaWorld wants to explore dynamic pricing

Posted Thursday, July 11, 2013 8:12 PM | Contributed by VitaminsAndGravy

A top executive with the Orlando-based company recently told analysts that dynamic pricing — in which parks vary the price of admission depending on how busy they expect to be on any given date, rather than charging the same price every day of the year — is "a big opportunity" for the industry.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Friday, July 12, 2013 12:14 PM

Disneyland has 4 different annual pass levels. Three of them come with blockout dates.


Dave Dragon, go Dave Dragon, and the Star Force Five!

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Friday, July 12, 2013 12:22 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Nonsense! People can't possibly understand that many options!


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Friday, July 12, 2013 12:32 PM

The stupid people can buy the most expensive pass and not have to check the blockout calendar.


Dave Dragon, go Dave Dragon, and the Star Force Five!

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Friday, July 12, 2013 1:04 PM
sirloindude's avatar

4 doesn't meet my level of too many. I was referring to some outlandish hypothetical scenario where you've got seven or eight. ;)


13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones

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Friday, July 12, 2013 1:08 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

In all honesty, I don't understand why there'd need to be more than one.

But I'm not about to question Disney's wisdom. :)


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Friday, July 12, 2013 1:30 PM
rollergator's avatar

Good, because Disney knows how to rake in the ducats...

More options means more people can find one they like...or at least willing to pay for.

TRULY dynamic pricing (in the absolute sense) means that everyone could build their own pass at a market price set minute-by-minute by supply-and-demand. Picture the floor at NYSE with everyone bidding for a Disney..."adventure." ;~P

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Friday, July 12, 2013 1:39 PM
LostKause's avatar

Discovery Cove's website has a calendar when you are buying tickets that gives you the prices of each day for the type of ticket you want. It doesn't change day to day like an airplane ticket. I like that. It seems to be acceptable.

I can't link to the calendar because you have to first tell the website how many of what kind of ticket you want.


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Friday, July 12, 2013 1:51 PM

The real question I could see with this is how would weather impact dynamic pricing. For example, lets assume people paid a large sum to go at a busy time, yet it poured. WOuld they be more upset and demanding of either a refund or return admission As I think about my best visits have been days when the weather was supposed to be awful but turned out to be great because the forecast was wrong.

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Friday, July 12, 2013 1:52 PM

Thats where the raincheck comes in. Or at least so said a guy on pointbuzz. Over and over and ....

Seriously though, will dynamic pricing make that much of a difference in terms of people's views of a weather ruined day/visit? I wouldn't expect that dynamic pricing would result in significantly higher prices for even the peak days (at least not beyond price increases that we would otherwise see over time without dynamic pricing). To the extent that is the case, I wouldn't expect dynamic pricing to put significant pressure for rainchecks or something similar.

Bad weather can be an issue with any outside venue/endeavor. Its a hazzard of mother nature with or without dynamic pricing.

Last edited by GoBucks89, Friday, July 12, 2013 2:58 PM
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Sunday, July 14, 2013 10:03 AM
Jeff's avatar

The big theme parks know what their crowds are going to be like, just like they know what hours they'll operate on those days. If they do dynamic pricing, it will be dynamic to the extent that they'll have the pricing mapped out for a year at a time, I suspect.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Sunday, July 14, 2013 12:56 PM

I guess they will only be dynamic by the day.

I.e. if you show up an hour till closing will they only charge you for a hour?

I try to go when I can avoid massive crowds (avoiding Christmas,Spring break ,July)

So would it save me money or would the dynamic be it goes up from base price on busy days ?

I suspect that will be how they do it.

The first year the base will current admission price with price added on weekends and other busy days.

People hunting for a cheap tickets will put in for a Wednesday ticket and show up Saturday and expect to get in.Never mind about multi day never expire tickets

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Sunday, July 14, 2013 1:07 PM
LostKause's avatar

I don't think you understand how this is going to work, keven38. I don't even think that they are going to do this like airlines or hotels do it. I think we can use Discovery Cove as a great example. We could even use Dorney as an example. It's all on their calendar. The slow season is cheaper than the busy season, encouraging people to visit during the slower season, which will better evenly spread out the crowds.

The conversation gets silly when we speculate that they will charge admission the same way airlines do or that they prorate the day and charge less the later you get there.
Some parks do offer a late admission plan, to keep the crowd level more even throughout the evening hours, but they would never prorate admission for the day.


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Sunday, July 14, 2013 2:08 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

I think they'll do it like some already are for Halloween. Charge less on days they know will be less busy, more on busy days.


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Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013 9:34 PM

The parks have been doing dynamic pricing for years, they just haven't been changing the prices to do it. Instead, they adjust hours and discounts. Most parks have a standard $BEVERAGE can discount, for instance. For years now Cedar Point has offered a bigger discount in May than in June, and now you can't get the discount at all on Saturday. Or if they can't easily manipulate the price, they will change the value proposition: in mid November the Orlando parks close at 6 PM. A week later when the Christmas rush starts, they are open until midnight.

None of this is new. Only the tactics are changing.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____
/XXXXX\ /XXX\ /XXXX\_ /X\ /XXXXX\ /X\ /X\ /XXXXX
_/XXXXXXX\__/XXXXX\/XXXXXXXX\_/XXX\_/XXXXXXX\__/XXX\_/XXX\_/\_/XXXXXX

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013 2:17 PM

Worth noting the distinction between dynamic pricing and differential pricing. Charging different prices on different days (e.g., holidays), or charging different prices in the evening for night owl specials, or even charging different prices for guests above or below a given height: these are all examples of differential pricing, and many parks already engage in such practices, although they interestingly have avoided some obvious revenue-enhancing cases, e.g., weekday vs. weekend pricing. I chalk it up to the industry's inherent conservatism. Cases like Universal's Hollywood Horror Nights are exceptions, but statements like SeaWorld's show that there are cracks in the wall.

True dynamic pricing would, as I think some described above, vary prices according to a set of changing variables, such as weather, or the rate at which tickets are selling for a particular day. One system on the market recalculates a set of price points once every 24 hours, and prices are only allowed to rise through the price points over the course of a day.

Lowering prices intra-day would only be justified when additional revenues gained from lowering prices exceed what you would have to refund unhappy guests who had purchased more expensive tickets earlier. In general, changing gate prices real-time is fraught with risk and these sorts of systems work best with online reservation systems. People rarely ask the person next to them on an airplane how much they paid.

There is certainly some customer distaste for the prospect of these changes. I spoke about it at IAAPA last year (and the year before that) and Screamscape had a strong reaction, which someone noted above. I reached out to Lance Hart to discuss it, but at some point he stopped replying to my emails.


Martin Lewison (milst1)
Current Coaster Count: 1018
Last Park: NASCAR SpeedPark, Pigeon Forge, TN
Next Park: Camden Park, Huntington, WV
2013 Park Count: 38

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013 10:40 PM

The level of distaste comes from the perception of how the program is applied. If you are figuring out a way to screw me over because the park is über-popular then I'm going to be upset. But if you are giving me a bigger discount because the park is slow, that might make me happy.

The trick, then, is to make sure that it appears to be a discount program, not a surcharge program. The numbers are the same either way, but consumers have a more positive reaction to discounts than to surcharges.

Of course, that's where the actions of amusement parks, banks, and airlines become particularly inscrutable. Why load up on a bunch of "because we can" fees when you could raise prices and exploit the word "free" instead? Of course, that only works when everybody else is doing the fee thing. See also: Southwest Airlines, Holiday World.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____
/XXXXX\ /XXX\ /XXXX\_ /X\ /XXXXX\ /X\ /X\ /XXXXX
_/XXXXXXX\__/XXXXX\/XXXXXXXX\_/XXX\_/XXXXXXX\__/XXX\_/XXX\_/\_/XXXXXX

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013 11:09 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Saw this story, thought of this thread.

Indians Are Pushing The Dynamics Of Buying Tickets Early

From the article:

This season, the Indians only are opening certain upper reserve sections of Progressive Field as demand dictates, thus concentrating smaller crowds in the higher-priced seats of the ballpark's lower levels. And even when those upper reserve seats do become available, they no longer are sold for a single-digit price.

So they're closing the cheap sections of the ballpark when demand is low in order to fill the more expensive seats?

Interesting.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Wednesday, July 17, 2013 11:11 PM
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Thursday, July 18, 2013 12:41 AM
kpjb's avatar

The difference between dynamic and differential is interesting. We've always sort-of lumped them together here, but there is a definite distinction.


Hi

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Thursday, July 18, 2013 9:56 AM
Jeff's avatar

The intent is still the same though, to work the supply-demand curve as efficiently as possible.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Thursday, July 18, 2013 7:56 PM
HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

Lord Gonchar said:

So they're closing the cheap sections of the ballpark when demand is low in order to fill the more expensive seats?

No, they changed the price of the upper deck seats to $21 for every seat. It used to range from $9 - $24 depending on the location of the seats. I think it makes sense from their standpoint because rather than opening up different priced sections of the upper deck and having more people working concessions, they are charging more on average and having fewer people working concessions because they wait for a section to fill before another one opens.

Of course, for those who were used to the cheaper tickets are pretty miffed and are staying home. But still, I'm sure they are making more money while selling fewer tickets and having fewer workers for concessions because of the pricing structure.

~Rob

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