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Park News
www.parkworld-online.com
Magical Christmas
Park Food
by Mike Holtzman
Winter opening is a hit!
Controlling Costs
Drayton Manor’s first Magical Christmas has been hailed a success. The winter
The instability of the market in today’s economy is causing food
season – which ran from November 22, 2008, to January 4, 2009 – was
prices to be unstable and unpredictable, and this scares many of
focused around the British park’s new Thomas Land children’s area, zoo and the
us with food concessions at parks and attractions. In the past three
Big Top Theatre, which hosted a special seasonal show.
months alone, I watched our vendors increase our rates by over
Following a hugely successful 2008 season, when park attendance passed 1
10%. We cannot allow this to continue.
million for the first time, Thomas Land was transformed with the addition of
As operators we need to find a way to maintain our operations,
Christmas tress, lighting, and fake snow, while Santa, carol singers and real
steady pricing, and always be vigilant on our costs. It’s important
reindeer helped add additional festive cheer.
that we always think of the customer and understand what they go
The live show, Santa’s Magical Christmas, was produced by Paul Hammond of
through when we increase our rates. Think how we felt when we
Hamagination and told the story of a young girl’s fairytale journey to learn the true
saw our fuel rates rocket over the summer.
meaning of Christmas. The production also provided the park with an efficient way
As we operate we must always be watching our daily costs.
to provide “meet and greet” opportunities with Santa and hand out gifts.
Staffing is a large key to our success, and our downfall. If we
“Opening Thomas Land for the 2008 season gave us a great opportunity to
tighten our labour we can save on our costs, and keep on
provide our guests with something special over the Christmas period,”
presenting a reasonable price to our customer. This means those
commented Helen Pawley-Tuft, Drayton Manor’s general manager of central
“desk jockey” managers need to get back into the battle grounds
services, “and we’ve been delighted with the response.”
to save the company, be a part of the labour and help keep our
Drayton Manor will now use Thomas Land to add an additional “mini season”
customers.
over the half-term school holidays from February 14 to 22, ahead of the main
Imagine a warning label on the chests of your vendors and
2009 season, which commences March 21. Magical Chirstmas will return for a
suppliers as they enter the room: “Operators Be Aware, Fragile.”
slightly shorter run later in the year.
Suppliers are looking for every reason to break into your prices.
We have heard stories of their supervisors, “the big boss” behind
the scenes, keying in a few more points against our prices and
“Today, people want to have extraordinary experiences, and all these
margins. It takes a vigilant operator to stop the suppliers from
events have been unique,” highlights Dinner in the Sky’s David Ghysels.
hiking your rates.
“There were incredible dinners of course, but also unforgettable views
A consent watch over our prices assures a steady price. For
and experiences, including an Opera in the Sky with Lesley Garrett at
example, do not let vendors continue adding fuel charges. If they
the Tower of London and an Internet Café in the Sky in Las Vegas.”
haven’t noticed, gas prices have fallen again recently. Fight and
Each Dinner in the Sky table is built in Belgium and operated
complain every time a penny difference occurs. It shows them you
according to TÜV and DIN 4112 standards. The platform is hoisted
are watching and you will not stand for it. The vendors will be
back down to the ground when guests require the bathroom – in case
more likely not to increase your rates in future. They will even think
you wondered!
twice before keying in any increase because they know they will
hear from all of us.
Legoland stages
However, we must be realistic on pricing. Vendors will ultimately
raise prices and we will need to deal with them. All of us need to
Obama inaguration
cover our
operational and
labour costs. Our
The 56th US presidential inauguration took place outside the US Capitol
goal is to be
building on January 20, but guests at Legoland California were also able to
profitable. If we
enjoy their own brick-built version of this historic event.
fight, the increases
Model designers recreated the scene depicting Barack Obama taking the
will be at a
presidential oath of office on the steps of the Capitol in the park’s Miniland
controllable rate.
USA area. More than 1,000 mini-figures were created out of Lego bricks.
This rate will allow
Among others, replicas were made of President Obama and his family, vice-
us to monitor the
president Joseph Biden
changes and pass
and Jill Biden,
on a respectable
outgoing president
increase on to our
George W and Laura
customers. We
Bush, outgoing vice-
alone can not absorb these hikes, ultimatly we will see ourselves
president Dick Cheney,
raising prices. But hopefully we can keep it at a level where
along with former
having something to eat at the park is still an attractive proposition
president George Bush
for many families
Snr and Barbara Bush.
Whether the Lego
Mike Holtzman is president of Profitable Food Facilities, a US-based
Obama fluffed his
hospitality and consulting firm for family entertainment operations
lines is unknown.
for the last 15 years. mike@profitablefood.com
FEBRUARY 2009
7
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