Linda Hays, Cliff’s Amusement Park, USA (pictured): We did actually, but it only lasted one season. It was a huge mistake. We are normally pay-as-you-go and thought going strictly pay-one-price and lowering the price would be a great idea. Because it took away the freedom that our customers had been used to, we had huge resistance. I can’t remember the year we tried this but it must have been at least a decade ago. So, we learned to keep the structure the same. That is what our guests want.
Aldo Vigevani, Gardaland, Italy: As Italy’s largest theme park, we cover a big market, but changing Italian habits seems almost impossible. We have always been pay-one-price, and our guests really appreciate this, but they can save money by looking for discount coupons in the local area or on our website. During the low season we also run a lot of targeted promotions for special interest groups, such as rollercoaster enthusiasts, car collectors and children’s summer camps, who we invite to come for a special price. Our co-marketing activities are also strong, with money-off coupons on more than 100 consumer products, from Coca-Cola to Barilla pasta. Exchanging coupons with other local attractions also works well. A different pricing structure may become a reality one day in the future. For example, we need to encourage more guests during the week in April and May, when the schools are still open, so an appealing price for adults and teenagers could be one of the weapons we use in the years to come. In summer, for example, we already offer a different price for our evening openings.
Buddy Wilkes, Shipwreck Island Waterpark, USA: We constantly tweak the way we price admission. I changed the pricing structure in 1992 from age criteria to height criteria. I had a year of pushback from both staff and guests, because few of our customers has encountered pricing based on height back then. I then implemented a double park pass for both Miracle Strip and Shipwreck Island Waterpark in 1998, and we discovered some new guests at each park as a result. Several times we discussed making increases in difficult economic times. A couple of times we postponed the increases, and created incentives to increase food & beverage, games and souvenir sales. You truly never know how anyone will react to pricing changes. I believe the keys are to carefully study the numbers and make the change with conviction, answer the concerns of your guests with honesty, and prepare your staff for the reality of positive and negative reactions.