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Flevy Management Insights Case Study
Customer Experience Strategy for Amusement Parks in North America

There are countless scenarios that require Customer Experience. Fortune 500 companies typically bring on global consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, and Accenture, or boutique consulting firms specializing in Customer Experience to thoroughly analyze their unique business challenges and competitive situations. These firms provide strategic recommendations based on consulting frameworks, subject matter expertise, benchmark data, best practices, and other tools developed from past client work. Let us analyze the following scenario.

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Consider this scenario: The organization is a leading amusement park operator in North America, currently facing challenges in enhancing Customer Experience.

It has observed a 5% decline in visitor numbers and a 10% fall in overall customer satisfaction scores over the past two years. External challenges include increasing competition from digital entertainment options and rising customer expectations for immersive experiences. Internally, the park struggles with outdated attractions and inefficient use of technology in operations. The primary strategic objective of the organization is to redefine the amusement park experience, leveraging technology and innovation to increase visitor numbers and customer satisfaction.

The amusement park industry in North America is at a critical juncture where digital transformation and customer experience innovation are not just nice-to-haves but essential for survival and growth. As visitor expectations evolve and competition from digital entertainment intensifies, amusement parks must reimagine how they engage with their audiences.

Strategic Analysis

The overall state of the amusement park industry is characterized by steady growth but facing significant disruption from digital entertainment platforms.

We begin our analysis by examining the competitive forces shaping the industry. These include:

  • Internal Rivalry: High, with major players investing heavily in technology and themed attractions to differentiate.
  • Supplier Power: Moderate, due to the specialized nature of ride and attraction manufactures.
  • Buyer Power: High, as customers have a wide range of entertainment options and demand unique, high-quality experiences.
  • Threat of New Entrants: Low to moderate, given the high capital investment and regulatory barriers.
  • Threat of Substitutes: High, particularly from digital and home entertainment options that compete for leisure spending.

Emergent trends include the increasing use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to create immersive experiences, and a shift towards personalization of the visitor experience through data analytics. Major changes in industry dynamics include:

  • Adoption of AR and VR technologies to enhance rides and attractions, creating opportunities for differentiation but requiring significant investment.
  • Increasing emphasis on personalized visitor experiences, leveraging data analytics for tailored recommendations and services, presenting both an opportunity for deeper engagement and a risk in data privacy and security.
  • Expansion of themed entertainment offerings, aligning with popular culture and trends to attract diverse visitor demographics but risking rapid obsolescence.

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Internal Assessment

The organization boasts a rich history and a strong brand but is challenged by aging attractions and a slow adoption of technology in enhancing customer experience.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths include a well-established brand and prime location. Opportunities lie in adopting new technologies like AR and VR to create immersive attractions and using data analytics for personalized visitor experiences. Weaknesses are seen in the outdated attractions and the underutilization of technology in operations. Threats include the rising competition from digital entertainment options and changing consumer preferences.

VRIO Analysis

The organization's brand and location are valuable, rare, and costly to imitate, providing a solid competitive advantage. However, its operational efficiency and technological innovation do not support these advantages, highlighting areas for strategic improvement.

Capability Analysis

Success in the amusement park industry demands innovation, digital transformation, and exceptional customer experience. The organization needs to enhance its capabilities in these areas, particularly in leveraging technology to create unique, personalized visitor experiences and in operational efficiency to manage costs and improve service quality.

Learn more about Digital Transformation Customer Experience Competitive Advantage

Strategic Initiatives

Based on the industry analysis and internal capability assessment, the following strategic initiatives have been defined to drive growth and enhance customer experience over the next 3-5 years .

  • Implement AR and VR Technologies: Develop and launch AR and VR-based attractions to provide immersive experiences. This initiative aims to differentiate the park and attract tech-savvy visitors, expected to increase visitor numbers and satisfaction. It requires investment in technology and creative talent.
  • Personalization through Data Analytics: Use data analytics to offer personalized visitor experiences, from tailored ride recommendations to customized dining options. The initiative seeks to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty, requiring technology investment and data management capabilities.
  • Renovation of Existing Attractions: Modernize and refurbish existing attractions to meet current visitor expectations for quality and engagement. This initiative will help retain existing visitors and attract new ones, requiring capital investment and creative redesign efforts.

Learn more about Customer Satisfaction Industry Analysis Data Management

Customer Experience Implementation KPIs

KPIS are crucial throughout the implementation process. They provide quantifiable checkpoints to validate the alignment of operational activities with our strategic goals, ensuring that execution is not just activity-driven, but results-oriented. Further, these KPIs act as early indicators of progress or deviation, enabling agile decision-making and course correction if needed.

What gets measured gets managed.
     – Peter Drucker

  • Visitor Numbers: To measure the effectiveness of new attractions and renovations in attracting visitors.
  • Customer Satisfaction Scores: To gauge the impact of personalization and immersive experiences on visitor satisfaction.
  • Technology Adoption Rate: To assess the successful implementation and utilization of AR, VR, and data analytics technologies.

These KPIs will provide insights into the success of strategic initiatives in enhancing the visitor experience and operational efficiency, guiding further investment and strategy adjustments.

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Customer Experience Best Practices

To improve the effectiveness of implementation, we can leverage best practice documents in Customer Experience. These resources below were developed by management consulting firms and Customer Experience subject matter experts.

Customer Experience Deliverables

These deliverables represent the outputs across all the strategic initiatives.
  • AR and VR Initiative Plan (PPT)
  • Data Analytics Implementation Roadmap (PPT)
  • Attraction Renovation Project Plan (PPT)
  • Customer Experience Enhancement Model (Excel)

Explore more Customer Experience deliverables

Implement AR and VR Technologies

The team utilized the Blue Ocean Strategy framework to guide the implementation of AR and VR technologies in creating new, immersive experiences. This framework, designed to help organizations create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant, proved invaluable. It was particularly useful because it encouraged the team to focus on innovation and differentiation, rather than competing on the same dimensions as other amusement parks. Following this approach:

  • Conducted a market analysis to identify the factors that the industry competes on and assessed how these factors could be reimagined through AR and VR technologies to offer unprecedented visitor experiences.
  • Developed a strategy canvas that highlighted how the amusement park's offerings could diverge from the competition by integrating AR and VR, focusing on elements such as immersion, interactivity, and personalization.
  • Launched pilot projects for AR and VR attractions, carefully monitoring visitor feedback and engagement to refine and scale these offerings across the park.

The successful deployment of the Blue Ocean Strategy enabled the amusement park to introduce groundbreaking AR and VR attractions that significantly enhanced visitor experiences. This not only increased visitor numbers but also established the park as a leader in technological innovation within the amusement industry.

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Personalization through Data Analytics

For the strategic initiative focused on personalization through data analytics, the organization adopted the Customer Journey Mapping framework. This framework helps businesses visualize the path their customers take from first becoming aware of their brand to the post-purchase phase. It was chosen for its ability to identify key touchpoints where personalized experiences could have the greatest impact. The process involved:

  • Mapping out the typical visitor journey, from planning their visit online to their experiences in the park and post-visit engagement.
  • Identifying opportunities for personalization at each stage of the journey, such as tailored ride recommendations, personalized dining options, and customized merchandise offers.
  • Implementing data analytics tools to collect and analyze visitor data, enabling the creation of personalized experiences based on visitor preferences and behaviors.

The application of Customer Journey Mapping provided a structured approach to enhancing the visitor experience through personalization. This resulted in increased customer satisfaction scores and higher levels of visitor engagement and loyalty, demonstrating the value of a focused approach to personalization.

Learn more about Customer Journey Customer Journey Mapping

Renovation of Existing Attractions

In tackling the renovation of existing attractions, the organization applied the Balanced Scorecard framework. This strategic planning and management system is used to align business activities to the vision and strategy of the organization, improve internal and external communications, and monitor organizational performance against strategic goals. It was particularly relevant for ensuring that the renovation efforts were aligned with the overall strategic objectives of enhancing visitor experience and maintaining competitive advantage. The team proceeded by:

  • Developing a Balanced Scorecard that included financial metrics (e.g., return on investment for renovations), customer metrics (e.g., improvement in satisfaction scores), internal process metrics (e.g., efficiency of renovation processes), and learning and growth metrics (e.g., employee engagement in innovation).
  • Engaging cross-functional teams to ensure that renovations addressed not only the physical improvements of attractions but also enhanced the overall visitor experience through operational improvements and employee training.
  • Regularly reviewing progress against the Balanced Scorecard to adjust strategies as needed and ensure that renovation projects contributed to the strategic objectives of the park.

The use of the Balanced Scorecard framework ensured that the renovation of existing attractions was not only executed efficiently but also aligned with the strategic goal of enhancing the overall visitor experience. This strategic approach led to a significant improvement in visitor numbers and satisfaction, reaffirming the park's position as a premier destination.

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Key Findings and Results

Here is a summary of the key results of this case study:

  • Increased visitor numbers by 15% year-over-year, following the implementation of AR and VR-based attractions.
  • Customer satisfaction scores improved by 20% after personalization strategies were applied through data analytics.
  • Technology adoption rate for AR and VR attractions reached 80%, indicating strong visitor engagement with new experiences.
  • Renovation of existing attractions led to a 10% improvement in repeat visitor numbers, highlighting enhanced visitor loyalty.

Evaluating the results of the strategic initiatives reveals a successful transformation in enhancing customer experience and operational efficiency. The significant increase in visitor numbers and customer satisfaction scores can be directly attributed to the innovative use of AR and VR technologies and the personalized visitor experiences enabled by data analytics. These results underscore the effectiveness of the Blue Ocean Strategy and Customer Journey Mapping in creating differentiated and engaging visitor experiences. However, the technology adoption rate, while impressive, suggests room for further improvement in maximizing the potential of these technologies across all park operations. Additionally, the renovation of existing attractions, although positively impacting repeat visitor numbers, indicates a need for continuous investment to keep pace with evolving visitor expectations. Alternative strategies, such as more aggressive marketing of renovated attractions and exploring partnerships for cutting-edge technology development, could further enhance outcomes.

Based on the analysis, the recommended next steps include doubling down on technology-driven attractions by exploring new AR and VR applications that push the envelope of immersive experiences. Further investment in data analytics capabilities is advised to deepen personalization and enhance visitor engagement. Additionally, a continuous renovation plan should be established to ensure all attractions remain relevant and engaging. Finally, exploring strategic partnerships with technology firms could accelerate innovation and reduce implementation costs, ensuring the park remains at the forefront of the amusement industry.

Source: Customer Experience Strategy for Amusement Parks in North America, Flevy Management Insights, 2024

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