Friday, September 25, 2009

October FUNWORLD—Expo 2009 Edition—Online Now

The October issue of FUNWORLD is our official IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 preview edition, highlighted this year by the trade show's first trip to Las Vegas. The cover shot above was taken by veteran FW photographer Isaac Brekken, and he has more awesome shots inside (like here).

As if you couldn't tell from the headline, we're excited to take our show to the entertainment capital of the world. Inside the pages of this month's magazine you'll find all sorts of good info about the Expo, like:

• Tips for getting around Vegas
• Tips for navigating the new trade show floor (two levels this year!)
• A Q&A with Blue Man Group Co-founder Matt Goldman about his General Managers and Owners' Breakfast keynote address
• A peek at what promises to be an awesome Disney-themed educational session (which will feature the man who wrote the theme for "it's a small world" playing the song live in person)

Even beyond the trade show coverage, this is a particularly meaty issue of FUNWORLD, including interviews with retiring BALPPA Chief Executive Colin Dawson, and industry sales veteran Bob Dean, who discusses ride purchasing trends past, present, and future.

Also, I spent a couple days at The Ohio State University earlier this year interviewing students in the burgeoning Theme Park Engineering Group there, and my story is in this issue detailing how a few core members have sparked a veritable renaissance in coaster designers.

Thanks for reading, and be on the lookout for our November/December double issue, which this year will feature an exclusive interview with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo, talking about the massive overhaul going on at Disney's California Adventure.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Grow Your F&B Operations … Without Increasing Price

Need some new food and beverage ideas?

During Wednesday's free IAAPA webinar, 1 p.m. EDT, Ken Whiting, president of Whiting's Foods, will share creative advice on adding new life to F&B menu items, tips on location of food stands, advice on value-add and promotion programs, and more—all without raising the prices. Some of these suggestions will come from the case study the IAAPA F&B Committee is presenting at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 on Mulligan Family Fun Center in Torrance, California.In the Queue recently caught up with Whiting to get an idea of what participants can expect from the webinar.

What can attendees expect to get out of this session?
Ideas that may challenge their current thinking regarding how to grow sales and profit in their food and beverage operations, as well as many low-cost, high-impact solutions that can be put to immediate use.

Who is this session suited for (what level of employee and what size/type of facility)?
Anyone with food and beverage responsibilities, primarily geared for smaller amusement park properties and FECs.

What is an example of a lesson or idea that a participant will get from this session?
New menu items that are being sold at amusement properties around the country.

How will the provided handout be used in this session?
The handout follows the presentation and will serve as a place for participants to capture the ideas that resonate with them for their operation. It will serve as a great resource and reference tool.

To register for this webinar and to find out more about future sessions, click here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hear a Blue Man Actually … Talk

Variety reported yesterday Blue Man Group will star in its first big-screen movie, "Blue Man Group: Mind Blast," a 3-D film shot for the massive screens of Imax theaters.

How does this apply to IAAPA, you ask? Well, one of the three original Blue Men and soon-to-be star of "Mind Blast" is speaking at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 in Las Vegas.

Matt Goldman will be the keynote speaker for the General Managers and Owners' Breakfast Wednesday, Nov. 18, from 8:30 a.m.-9:45 a.m. I originally interviewed Goldman in 2007 as he launched the BMG show at Universal Orlando; I caught up with him again recently to get a sense of what his talk will cover at the Expo, and here's what he said:

First and foremost, I want to talk about how incredible it can be for a theme park to have a high-quality live theatrical experience on site. I think it’s added a dimension to Universal that’s a win-win-win: It’s a win for Universal, it’s a win for Blue Man, and it’s a win for the customers.

We’re also going to talk about the importance of having an authentic, quality experience for the customer from beginning to end: Searching the web site, buying the ticket, sitting in the seats, and the word of mouth when they’re leaving. There’s no marketing that returns more than that high-quality experience.

I also will talk about how two very different organizations with two very different business models can come together. When you make art, that’s one kind of satisfaction; when you make successful partnerships, that’s another kind of satisfaction. To bring it all together … it doesn’t always turn out this way, but when it does it reminds us all why we work so hard.

To read my entire interview with Goldman, keep an eye out for FUNWORLD's October issue, which should be hitting your mailboxes soon.

Blue Man Group will also make a special guest appearance as part of the GM and Owners' Breakfast. Advance registration is required, so click here to either register for your entire IAAPA Attractions Expo experience, or upgrade it with a ticket to the breakfast.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

FUNWORLD Follow-Up: Darwin Centre

As you might have noticed, the Darwin Centre at the Natural History Museum of London is on the cover of FUNWORLD's September issue (read the article here).

Well, today marks Darwin Centre's official opening. Check out this story from the BBC that ran in this morning's IAAPA News Flash for more info, including some video of Prince William's opening remarks and his encounter with a tarantula.

There's also this BBC video that goes inside the facility's massive cocoon for a look at some of its creepy-crawly inhabitants.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Three Key Concepts for Entering Social Media

Sharon Swender, president of .Com Marketing, is a speaker at the Institute for Marketing, which is part of the education program at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 this November in Las Vegas. Visit the Expo web site for detailed information on the full education program, to register, and to access other important show information.

Not so long ago, a “tweet” was something heard from a bird and the “little black book” was more important than Facebook. But now, thousands of people enter the social media space each day trying to decipher the new applications and determine what’s right for them. While there’s a lot of buzz about social media, there is even more confusion. For those seeking to market themselves and their companies, social media can be a powerful strategy—if used correctly.

There are three important considerations each person should make before launching a social media campaign:

1. Tactical – Social media is nothing more than a marketing tactic. It is one more communications vehicle in an arsenal of ways to communicate with target audiences. Just because thousands of people will be exposed to your messages doesn’t mean the right ones are tuned in.
2. Integration – Like any other tactic, social media must integrate with and support the overall online and offline marketing plan. The key here is online engagement. Does social media help engage customers and/or thought leaders in a way that moves them into action?
3. Cost – While online applications may seem free, the hidden, recurring costs must be considered. Who will set up the application? Who is responsible for ensuring messages are continually refreshed? How will success be measured? What activities or other job responsibilities are being sacrificed?

The bottom line is simple: Don’t focus on the technology—focus on the relationship. If social media can help you engage with your prospects and customers in a meaningful way, then it can be a valuable addition to your communications strategy.