The incoming IAAPA chairman and operator of Morey’s Piers discusses his vision for the association and his thoughts about the industry in general.
Will Morey, 55, is the incoming chairman of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA). As president and CEO of the Morey Organization, he and his brother Jack oversee the operation of three amusement piers, two waterparks and a number of other businesses in the New Jersey shore resort of Wildwood. Will, who holds a BS in Finance from Auburn University and is a licensed commercial pilot and certified flight instructor, lives locally with his wife of 27 years, Janice, and their two sons, Will and Kyle.
As incoming IAAPA chairman, what are your goals for the coming year?
I’m focused on ensuring the diligent execution of IAAPA’s 2013-2015 Strategic Plan. This is essential, as the plan identifies key initiatives that several of IAAPA’s best minds and leaders identified as key to the association’s and the industry’s future success.
IAAPA has made great strides in establishing regional offices in Europe, Asia-Pacific and South America. What opportunities are there for the association in the Middle East, India, or any other new markets?
This is a very important and exciting time for IAAPA. There is substantial growth opportunity around the world, which underscores our responsibility to serve and advance the industry in every region. Asia- Pacific is probably the largest in terms of potential growth for the near future and our regional office in Hong Kong currently services IAAPA members in the Middle East and India adequately. Presently, IAAPA is most involved in fulfilling the need and interest for safety seminars in the Middle East region.
How do you keep trade shows affordable for visitors and participants?
One way is to continue to use technology when possible to help lower the cost of producing the show and deliver value. Innovation directed at the show experience is occurring on a continual basis. I believe the value and “sizzle” of Expo continues to be fresh, exciting and well-worth the price of admission.
Was keeping IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando for 10 years the right decision?
Orlando is the unofficial capital of the theme park industry and an ideal location for IAAPA Attractions Expo. Clearly, the selection of Orlando as a long-term venue lowers the cost of production for both manufacturers and suppliers. IAAPA is fortunate that Orlando is home to so many world-class theme park facilities that contribute to keeping an Orlando visit experience fresh and exciting. Also, Orlando’s world- class convention centre and local attractions allow all of our members from zoos and aquariums, science centres and museums, to family entertainment centres, waterparks and amusement parks to shop nine- miles of aisles and learn from some of the industry’s best.
Do you plan to keep moving the European/Asian expos around from city to city, and might there be scope for than more than IAAPA one trade show in either of these regions?
Keeping in mind language and cultural differences in each of these regions, it is important that IAAPA’s trade shows rotate within the regions. That being said we are working to identify cities within each region that make the most sense for both IAAPA and our members. Again, our immediate goals are identified by the 2013-2015 Strategic Plan, which maintains our current number of Expos.
Apart from trade shows, what other events and initiatives can we look forward to from IAAPA in 2013?
Several great events and programmes are already lined up for 2013, including several IAAPA Safety Institutes. Coming up in the first few months are: the IAAPA Institute for Executive Education, which takes place at the end of January in San Diego; FEC Phoenix, a new event for FEC operators which will be held at the end of February; and the 2013 IAAPA Leadership Conference and Latin America Networking Event in Sao Paolo in March. Members should also keep an eye out for webinars of interest, free to members throughout the year.
What park or attraction has most inspired you during your travels with the association?
I’ve been fortunate in my life and career to travel to parks and attractions all around the world and I am inspired by each place I visit in different ways. The people you meet during these visits are, however, most often what is so especially inspiring. I’ll be candid though – when it comes to a favourite ride or attraction, the Wipe Out giant slide, formally on Morey’s Piers, will always be very special as that’s where “it all began” for the Morey Family.
Most big theme/amusement parks in North America are corporate-owned. How does a family-owned operation like yours remain competitive?
Know your customer, make sure you offer a compelling place to visit, show gratitude, and give back. Today, people have many choices as to where and how they spend their money and their leisure time. Great customer service and new experiences are the best way to remain competitive. Also, family-owned businesses are part of the community – at Morey’s Piers we take that role very seriously.
Is there still the same pressure on land values (for condominium development etc) by the ocean?
Thankfully, the poor real estate market has dramatically relieved the pressure on land values. In many cases, restrictive zoning is in place to help thwart the conversion of amusement park/attractions to other uses. Zoning is very important to protecting the value and unique culture that seaside amusements facilities contribute to their communities.
What positive signs do you see that the industry in North America and Europe is bouncing back?
Parts of Europe had a rainy summer season, yet IAAPA’s Euro Attractions Show in Berlin had the largest pre-registration number to date. That’s encouraging. I do think there is still significant uncertainty about the world economy. If there is a recovery, it is certainly a slow one, but registration for Attractions Expo in Orlando is strong and it will boast nearly 480,000 net square feet of exhibit space, which is more than in 2011. While clearly not immune to recessionary pressures, what’s great about our industry is we continue to offer people an affordable way to escape the day-to-day stresses, and spend quality time with family and friends.
Apart from the obvious Expo events, park visits etc, what’s your personal tip for IAAPA attendees visiting Orlando?
Plan ahead as much as you can. There is so much to see and do that deciding on site can be overwhelming and you may miss something that would benefit you had you attended. Be relentless about meeting new people. If not involved on an IAAPA committee, inquire about which committee(s) might be the best for you and try to meet the committee chair to express your interest. There is so much to learn through serving on a committee.
Pictured below: Morey’s Mariner’s Entry Pier, Wildwood, New Jersey