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Yann Caillère Parques

Yann Caillère joined Europe’s second largest amusement park and attractions operator – and a major worldwide player – as its new CEO at the start of 2014, replacing former chief executive Richard Golding. In an exclusive interview conducted recently at the group’s headquarters in Madrid, the French former hotel executive shares his vision for Parques Reunidos. Read on as he tells Park World editor Owen Ralph how the optimisation of existing assets combined with measured international expansion will be key to delivering growth in the years ahead

What was the previous management team’s legacy at Parques Reunidos?

What I see is that team did a great job over the past 10 years in mergers and acquisitions. Originally Parques Reunidos was just a Spanish company, but they expanded step by step in Europe, and in the US too. I think Richard [Golding] did a great job in this direction.

What goals did you set yourself when you started as CEO?

I wanted to make a plan for three weeks, three months and three years. Three weeks was the time I thought I would need to get a sense of what was really going on with the business, understand the figures, visit some parks etc. We screened all our parks with a SWOT analysis. Three months was the time needed with the team in order to develop a strategy and make sure everyone was on board. And three years is how long we have to implement it.

BELOW: Yann Caillere pictured with SpongeBob SquarePants and

Patrick at Nickelodeon Land in Madrid

What does your strategy include? There are two priorities. The first is to optimise the portfolio or parks by focusing more on the customer experience and leveraging our existing assets. We need to raise our EBITDA, and we need to gain two million more visitors because the last years we have lost visitors. We are working on a revenue management strategy for all of the parks, and we plans to do more with digital, such as apps and online booking. Optimising assets also means making some capital expenditure, creating new experiences as we have done this season with Nickelodeon Land at Parque de Atracciones (Madrid), Dinoland at Mirabilandia (Italy), the Lost Temple at Movie Park (Germany) and the Smurfs at Bobbejaaland (Belgium). We need to be more storytellers; not just a collection of rides. This is what we are doing to raise the bar in terms of quality

and guest satisfaction.

The second priority is expansion, either full acquisitions as we have just done with the Seaquarium in Miami, or management contracts. For example, we have struck deals to manage two new parks in Dubai, which are scheduled to open at the end of 2016/ beginning of 2017 [details on page 20 – Ed]. And if there are some parks that are not key to our strategic goals, then maybe we will look to sell them.

In addition to Dubai, where else in the world do you believe has potential for international expansion?

Dubai is a booming region with 150-200 hotels coming in the next five to six years. It is doing well because it has a double offer – business and leisure. Sometimes the hotels are attractions in their own right, but all of the people coming to those hotels are potential customers for the parks we will be involved with. Oman is also an interesting proposition, very different from Dubai because it is very much a green destination with no high buildings, but they have turtles, dolphins and other tourist attractions, and they have money too.

Then there are some regions we are not present in for the time being. North Africa has potential for sure. In Morocco for example, you could have a big theme park in Casablanca or a waterpark in Agadir or Marrakech. There is money in Algeria. Egypt could be a destination if they stabilise the political situation. I believe very much in the rest of the Africa, but so far most of the time it is one country, one city.

I would say there are three or four regions in Asia-

Pacific. You have Australia, where there are already some parks and to enter the market with a new product would be difficult. You have China, which by itself it is a market. It is possible to enter the country if you have a good partner, By ourselves, forget it, the learning curve would be too painful. Then you have eastern Asia – Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, which is a country with true potential. In South America we already have an aquarium in Argentina, where they are good at soccer but it is a tough economy. However, this part of the world is growing. You have the two big countries, Mexico and Brazil, but you also have a few smaller countries with potential, such as Chile. For us as a Spanish company, Latin America is a natural destination because the language, the culture, it is easy for us. We will go step by step, pushing into new regions just as soon as we can. We cannot go too fast because of our owner, the equity fund. You know the story, usually they do not plan to spend their whole life with you.


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