"Our commitment to the region is constant and long-term"
In an exclusive talk, Gabriel Martínez, International Sales Manager for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, analyzed the current situation of the parks, which in 2018 premiered new attractions like never before.
This year marked a milestone in the history of the parks of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, since in 2018 new attractions were launched from coast to coast in the United States. What does this decision have to do with?
Undoubtedly, this year we made large investments throughout the company. The main idea was to awaken the curiosity of the travelers so that they come to visit us. With this we invite those who have never come to come and meet us, and also those who already know us to come back. Beyond 2018, in the coming years we will present new openings, renovations and experiences like never before. I can only say that we are going to have many news to announce.
What are the expectations for these developments for the Latin American market?
Our commitment to the region is constant and long-term, so we always give priority to invest time and resources, regardless of the novelties in the parks or the macroeconomic vicissitudes. But whoever has not visited us in recent years will find new parks. We have made changes not only in the level of attractions, but also in the presentations and shows, the educational and experiential content. There's a lot to see, do and enjoy at SeaWorld and Aquatica parks (Orlando, San Diego or San Antonio), at Busch Gardens parks (Tampa or Williamsburg, Virginia) or at Discovery Cove.
What are the priority markets within the region? And the potentials?
Brazil is the country that brings more visitors to our parks, not only because of the size of the general population, but because it is a market where we have very good penetration, and the traveler vacation many nights in Orlando, so they visit us very often. On the other hand, in Argentina, Mexico and Colombia we are always present. But, as if that were not enough, this year we have developed (and will develop) events and activities in Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Central America. So we try to get closer to most countries that time allows us.
How is work today with travel agents in Latin America? And with the OTAs?
We continue to support the travel agents with great zeal. The work of the travel agent is more of a consultant or designer of a customized product, than simply offering a pre-existing package to your passenger. So the professionals are the ones who recommend us, who explain to their client the benefit of buying before leaving, the advantages offered by buying through an expert, the differentiated products (such as the 3X2 offer or the 3X2 tickets with meals) Only members of the industry have at their disposal. Logically, a distribution channel as important as digital can not be ignored, so we have a multichannel presence. After all, we want to make it easy for the final passenger to find us and to visit us.
How does the social and economic changes we experience in the region affect the SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment business?
Obviously when the dollar goes up, for example, it increases the cost of vacation to the United States and the traveler is forced to revise his budget. But, on our part, we can guarantee that we remain committed to our friends in the industry and to the travelers of the region regardless of what happens in the economic or sociopolitical field. These situations come and go, but we will always be there to receive them.
What are the differential factors of the group with regard to other major brands of international entertainment parks?
The proposal of many theme parks is to "take" the visitor from reality, submerge them in fantasy worlds where they can play the role of hero or villain in fictional stories. In the parks of SeaWorld we create unusual and unexpected encounters, but based on the real world, where the visitor faces an environmental challenge, for example, and is part of the solution. In our parks, visitors become the heroes who are working to protect this beautiful planet that we share. In addition, the brand maintains a strong global commitment to the welfare and preservation of animals. How is this work combined with sales and positioning actions? Both tasks are intimately related. For example, to date the rescue team of the company, SeaWorld Rescue, has rescued more than 31 thousand wild animals, many of them were rehabilitated and reintroduced to their habitats. This work has a significant cost that is financed thanks to our sales. On the other hand, more than 10 years ago we founded the Conservation Fund of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, a non-profit organization aimed at supporting conservation efforts that are not directly related to our parks. Absolutely all the administrative and operating costs of the Fund are subsidized with the income we generate through our sales. Both are examples of the virtuous circle that is generated when we concatenate conservation efforts with commercial results: more sales represent more support for conservation and rescue efforts. Therefore, it is very important that everyone knows that each ticket, each visit, supports efforts to protect habitats, preserve species and improve the health of our oceans.
How do you think the entertainment park sector will evolve in a few years?
It is difficult, or impossible, to predict the future. However, I see that a great opportunity for entertainment parks is to interact with their visitors (whether possible, future or past) without being in the park in person. That the traveler's experience while planning his visit, before arriving or after leaving, is richer and more attractive. On the other hand, seek to reward the most loyal visitors, or more active, in social and digital media and networks. Finally, there is a great challenge in personalizing the experience of a product destined for thousands of people per day, such as theme parks. Those are some ideas of what is being talked about in this segment of the industry.