These are my raw notes from the Blooloop Live conference held on 29 June 2016 in Liverpool, England. I was invited to be a speaker but I also took notes on my laptop during some of the speeches. Here are those notes, unedited and unformatted.

Merlin Entertainment

2nd largest theme park business / attractions including LEGOland, Millennium Falcon, Knights Village, Sealife Centers, London Eye, Orlando Eye.

Trend: Transition towards short breaks, 2-3 days

Trend: Asian consumers desire for Western brands

Trend: Growing international tourism

The future of visitor experiences

  • Fun
  • Physical experience
  • Mental creative experience
Move away from material goods and towards experiential ones
Switch off: “In an ever digital world, ‘switching off’ is a growing consumer trend.”
Escapism: “In a world of austerity and grown up responsibility we are seeing the increasing desire to let go, to let loose.”

Immersion

LOL: “I used to talk about this all the time, until someone said it sounds like you’re drowning people.”
Millennials expect technology to be intertwined with the experience.

What is Merlin doing towards these trends?

  • “Thank God for LEGO.” they own 1/3 of Merlin and are huge driver. Building Japan, Dubai, more (total 4 by 2020).
  • Also Dreamworks, BBC.
  • Value of IP among their partners
 DreamWorks Tours: Live theater, try out the Shrek Adventure near the London Eye
“Pretty much whenever we build accommodations aka hotels at LEGOland, it goes gangbusters.”
“We believe people want to feel totally immersed in their rooms,” that is a different strategy than Disney — at Warwick Lodge
Madame Tussaud, SeaLife
Technology to enhance storytelling and immersion
“World First” New product 2016
www.altontowers.com Galactica
Derren Brown’s Ghost Train, Huge technical difficulties
He is a magician and stage performer in England
“We built this enormous warehouse. We put a 20-ton Victorian train inside, hanging by chains. Next 10 minutes addresses fear. They enter the train, lots of stuff happens, and they afterwards the visitors wonder what is real and what is fake.”
Thorpe Park  www.thorpepark.com
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Tracey McGeagh

Dir of Marketing and Communications, National Museums Liverpool
3m visitors per year to 8 museums and galleries
  • Maritime Museum
  • Museum of Liverpool
  • Slavery Museum
  • War Museum
  • Lady Lever Art Gallery, currently has a Picasso exhibit
What’s not to like about ‘free’?
  • Free admission/exhibitions
  • Marketing budgets
  • What is it ‘worth’?
  • Value for time: a quality experience
Budgets have been reduced by 25% from Government since 2010.
Marketing for audience growth
  • Distinctive brand identities
  • Marketing segmentation to match their distinctiveness
  • Cross promotion
  • Partnering and reciprocal marketing
  • Ancillary marketing
  • Integration with Communications strategy
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Michael Mack

Managing partner, Europa-Park
Family-owned, he is 8th generation. Started in 1780.
30% of world market for roller coaster tracks
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Tick Tock Unlock

Escape Games at Blooloop 2016
Games come from Budapest, Europe
“Escape rooms are live-action, team-based games where players…”
Escape Games – What makes them fun?
Groups of 2-6 people are locked in a room and have to find their way out. But what makes it enjoyable?
“When you leave, you’re a hero.”
  • Being a part of a spectacle, feeling heroic, and engaging with something challenging (DuPlessie, 2013)
  • Non-linear which makes it engaging. Game mechanics.
  • Wow moments – anticipation, revelations, surprises and spectacles
  • Immersive environment using appropriate theming, lighting, sound, actors, etc
  • Variety of interesting puzzles that unlock clues and objects
  • Players progress through the room(s) and escape
Tick Tock Unlock – The Experience
  • Amazing experiences that are memorable, challenging yet fun!
  • Our goal: Bring together families, friends and colleagues
  • First one in Yorkshire
  • Leeds, Liverppol, Glasgow and Manchester
  • Unique in our approach when it comes to puzzles since they are fun yet great learning opportunities
  • Pop-up games, treasure hunts, recruitment and marketing events, etc
  • Ages from 6-91 years old
Escape Games – Influences
We are influenced by Themed entertainment, Role-playing, Point and click games, Game shows and movies, Interactive theater, Puzzle & Treasure hunts.
Interactive theater, look up “The Republic”
Opportunities and Challenges Today
  • Explosive growth across the UK
  • From 0 to 160 in the past 4 years
Future Opportunities
  • Industry consolidation due to saturation
  • Barriers to entry through IP and high production values
  • Technology esp Reactive
  • VR and AR
  • Indoor and outdoor games with added immersion through technology
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Sharon Redrobe, CEO at Twycross Zoo

Modernizing an old fashioned 50-year old zoo
  • The Great Apes including Gorilla, Orangutan, Chimpanzee, Bonobo will all be extinct in the wild in 20 years. (Some within 12.)
  • How to sell the conservation, when marketing team wants to sell the FUN?
  • Twycross Zoo is the only in Europe that has all four great apes.
About the Zoo
  • Founded in 1963.
  • By 2012, they were a tired old fashioned zoo that was losing 1m pounds per year
  • Falling visitor numbers, low staff morale, no plan, no money for capex
Conservation, in and out of the zoo
  • Care for 62 species from EAZA breeding programs
  • First zoo to put monkeys on grass in 1960s and 1970s, when the prior standard was to keep them on hygienic tiles
2014/2015 new bank, new plan
Things Added in 2015, total 4M pounds investment
  • Water play area for kids
  • New cafe lodge
  • New paths
  • Orangutan area extension
2016 Moated island habitat for gibbons
2017 Chimpanzee Moating Island
  • 26 Chimpanzees, award-winning merge
Making a stand – communicate the change
  • “Twycross Zoo boss says chimps should never have been used in PG Tips adverts”
Threats to zoos: If we don’t get communications right!!
  • Example of what Blackfish movie did to Seaworld
Inform the public – don’t leave the debate to others
  • Zoos need to take a stand on conservation issues, vs “Just a visitor attraction”
So what?
  • Visitor numbers up 6%
  • Revenue up 10%
  • Year on year growth since 2013
  • Surplus (profit) for the last 3 years after many years losing money
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