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Slagharen - the price is right!

Published: 
29 December, 2010

A background in the hotel industry convinced Angelique Klar of Slagharen to introduce a dynamic pricing strategy at the Dutch park in 2010. The results proved eye opening, as she explains here.

Slagharen is a holiday and amusement park in the northern part of the Netherlands with around 1.5 million annual guests. What sets us apart from our competitors is that, as well as offering more than 40 rides and live family entertainment, we also have an extended range of lodging available, which makes it a great setting for multiple day stays.

During 2009 we were looking for new ways to increase revenues without the obvious way of raising prices at the gate. Due to my extensive background in the hotel industry, I was fairly accustomed to a wide range of pricing tactics. It therefore seemed an obvious question to raise with management of the amusement park [which is owned by the Bembom family]: Could we incorporate some form of dynamic pricing into our daily business?

Although this practice is often used in the travel industry, it is fairly new in the attractions business. An external advisor, Eric Pastoor of www.pricetag.nl, was brought in to assess the situation at Slagharen and together we came up with what we believe is a fresh way of pricing for amusement parks.

Dynamic pricing (or “yield management”) is the practice by which prices are determined due to demand, so they rise when products get scarce, but are lowered when there is an abundance of product. We all know, for example, that we can get a cheap flight if we travel off peak, but that prices will be higher over busy holiday periods.

Revenue management and dynamic pricing for our lodging division was not very difficult to set up, due to the fact that this principle could be easily copied from within the hotel industry. However the question remained if it was possible to setup a type of dynamic pricing for our day visitors.

Most park managers will be aware that problems arise when the venue reaches maximum capacity – the waiting times for rides increase and secondary spending drops tremendously. Furthermore, your guests will not experience all that your park has to offer, which might have an impact on return visits.

The solution to these problems can be differing your prices according to demand, which basically setting lower prices during the days that you want more visitors and increasing your prices on those days when demand is high.

Most parks make the bulk of their revenue in less than 10 weeks during the season, however there are fixed costs associated with every day you open. That’s why it’s great if you can spread visitor number more evenly across the season, which is exactly what we achieved in 2010.

Should you decide to take a different approach to your park’s pricing, I encourage you to contact me first and find out how it benefited us at Slagharen. As you can see from the panel on the left, you will be astounded by the results!

Angelique Klar is the commercial director of Slagharen Attraction and Holiday Park. She can be contacted on +31 523 68 30 00, or by e-mail: a.klar@slagharen.com

Dynamic Results

In 2009 admission to Slagharen was €19.50 ($25.50) per guest, regardless of when they visited. During the past season under the park's new dynamic pricing structure, visitors could purchase tickets from as low as €12.50 per person, rising to €24.50 on peak days.

Despite other theme parks experiencing attendance drops of between 7 and 9%, visitor numbers at Slagharen in 2010 remained similar to 2009. Better still, average ticket rates over the season increased by 31%! By controlling its own discounting, the park is no longer at the mercy of third party offers.

Although they can still pay at the gate, many Slagharen guests now book online to ensure the best rates. Because the park has a better idea of how many people are coming each day, it has been able to plan more efficiently and reduce staff costs by 2%.

Inevitably, some visitors try to avoid the more expensive days, which means that those that pay the maximum €24.50 have a more comfortable stay in the park. In fact, management has noticed a 20% drop in guest complaints about queues etc, while in-park spending is up by an average of 15%.

Pictured below: A sample booking screen from the park's website, showing the difference in price according to day

 








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