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Merlin Entertainments

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On 1/25/2019 at 3:20 PM, Wumbamillio said:

DBGT is a pretentious, unentertaining load of nonsense, designed by self-congratulatory out of touch hipsters.

 

Oh my gosh ????

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Haha no offence to out of touch hipsters everywhere, but after going in to DBGT with an open mind and usually loving attractions rides like this, that is exactly how I feel and seemingly anyone Ive chatted to as well (enthusiasts and non enthusiasts).

The arrogant attitude Thorpe Park still have about it, like in the recent behind the scenes video ("nowhere else in the world does anything anywhere near the scale of what we do"), is just plain silly. You don't entertain people by forcing this 'impressive soundingness' on them. They know it's their most complained about attraction by a long way, so why don't they dial it back a bit? Hopefully Merlin has learnt from their mistake..!

Could have been awesome in different hands.

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Merlin had their Preliminary 2018 Result presentation to investors today. Keep in mind, of course, that they'll always try and put a positive spin on things, but they do also provide raw numbers. 

 

Some interesting highlights:

 

-Visitor numbers, revenue, spend per capita, etc all have improved compared to 2017

-Merlin see it as more or less the end of the 'recovery period' following Smiler incident, terror attacks in big locations, etc, so they can now look at starting to 'grow again'

-Merlin are keeping a close eye on 'pop up' style attractions, such as escape rooms, weird museums, esport events*, etc. They're looking at putting these types of things within their attractions, but feel that as a stand alone activity, they are ultimately not profitable enough

 

Some more attraction-specific stuff:

-Lego Movie World is spreading across several Legoland parks over the next couple of years, with it coming to Windsor in 2021

-New Legoland parks coming to New York (late spring 2020), South Korea (finally confirmed for opening 2022) and discussions about opening one in China are still ongoing

-The Peppa Pig World of Play play centre attraction that opened in Shanghai is being cloned across 10 new locations this year (largely China and America)

-Merlin acquired an oceanrium in China in 2012 (Changheng Ocean World, now sometimes known as Sea Life Shanghai), which had a huge show centred on two beluga whales. Merlin are moving these whales to a sanctuary in Iceland this year, after many years of planning

-IPs are a continued focused

-The Bear Grylls attraction which opened in September in Birmingham, they have done very little advertising whilst they 'get things right'. A big push is coming this spring.

-When speaking of the refurbishment of Colossos at Heide, Nick Varney noted it was very similar to Wicker Man and said "we never pass on an opportunity to copy a great idea unless we have to"

 

 

*interesting, when speaking about epsorts, Varney mentioned the event at Thorpe Park. He said he very much didn't 'get it' (and in my personal opinion whilst listening, he sounded less-than-convinced by it all), and said it was something noted by younger people within the industry as a thing to explore.

 

 

So yes, very much by the numbers they're getting, and the front they're putting on, all is very positive and good for Merlin. Then again, you would hope they would since it's just a recovery after a very bad period. Obviously, the situations more locally aren't quite so good, so it'd be very curious to know what they thoughts are behind the scenes.

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'Guest satisfaction

Our ongoing product investment and innovation, and relentless focus on creating memorable experiences for our guests throughout 2018 have resulted in continued strong levels of guest satisfaction. Guest feedback is monitored daily through the touchscreens at our attractions, generating over one million reviews each year. In 2018 we delivered an overall guest satisfaction score across the Group of 95%, and ‘Net Promoter’ score of 57%, which increased by three percentage points.'

 

 

Interesting. 

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4 minutes ago, Coaster said:

Turning the screens off if it's a poor day probably helps with those guest satisfaction ratings.

They don’t even turn them off, when they don’t want feedback they get set to ask where you are from and your email address if you’d like to opt in to marketing. And then it helpfully says thanks for your feedback.

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The data reveals a slowdown in growth when compared to 2017, 2016 and 2015. Profits are still lackluster and the current direction implied by Varney is worrying to say the least. However they are better than I was expecting and seems to be inline with what the market's were expecting as the share price remains flat today. 

 

Sounds like they will be going down the Disney Quest route. Many expensive city centre locations with high numbers of staff and a constant battle to replace ageing attractions to get people to return. It could pay off but seeing as Disney didn't manage it I have my doubts on if Merlin can. 

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Considering they have recently had a massively publicised crash that literally the entire target audience knows about, this is a very good result I think?

 

Interesting to hear the CEO’s opinion on esports....

Judging by the feedback on social media, the public don’t get it either...

 

Hate the continued “copy and paste” approach these days :( but I guess that’s what makes the money.

 

Do we know how well Thorpe / Towers / Chessington are doing specifically?

I’d be interested to see if TP’s lack of anything has actually had much affect on revenue 

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This is just the preliminary report and goes into little detail. What was published is the overall numbers for the group. They did cite that revenue in the theme park division is up 9.2% but this was helped significantly by the weather during the summer and strong performance during Halloween. 

 

The crash happened in 2015 so it's not exactly recent anymore. Also the group still grew revenue in 2015 (2.3%), 2016 (11.7%) and 2017 (11.6%). 2018 is currently looking to be between 5.2-5.9% revenue growth (to be finalised), which whilst still positive is no where near the success of the previous 2 years.

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I just read that Varney proclaimed that "Merlin create the best themed accommodation in the world, unrivalled by any other amusement or park operator."

 

One can only assume that the news in the next month will have the headline "CEO of Entertainments company sectioned after finally losing the plot"...

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3 hours ago, Benin said:

I just read that Varney proclaimed that "Merlin create the best themed accommodation in the world, unrivalled by any other amusement or park operator."

 

One can only assume that the news in the next month will have the headline "CEO of Entertainments company sectioned after finally losing the plot"...

Nothing screams “best themed accommodation” more than the gorgeous Thorpe Shark Hotel. Love me some shipping containers!!

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Merlin Positives: Very good at initial ideas and on a large scale creating good quality attractions on a smaller budget than say DisneyLand

Merlin Negatives: Never budget for maintaining initial high quality so quality of product always drops over time along with visitor numbers.

 

I agree about turning each resort into a "mini-destination" though. It just seems for me it would be better to create something unique as opposed to copy-pasting existing attractions to these sites (e.g. Dungeons at Alton Towers could've been another show-type attraction).

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On 3/1/2019 at 3:36 PM, Benin said:

 

Some Friday evening entertainment for you all...

 

Good to see it was that overwhelmed with Likes and positive comments that they disabled the like bar and comments section. So proud they are doing well in the eyes of the consumer :) 

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"well our policy and belief is we should never actually put our prices up unless we're giving our customers something in return."

 

  • Umm I am pretty sure most years ticket prices have a tiny increase half way through.
  • Pizza Pasta definitely went up in price a couple of times during the season (It then had no bbq base pizza in my last two visits in October)
  • The car park at Thorpe went up twice!

 

Hmmmm!

 

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And when the new pound coin came in Thorpe decided to double the price to £2 for locker usage - unlike Legoland who simply modified them for new £1 coins. 

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Why do you even have to pay for lockers. They should just remove bag rooms and put free locker storage across the park. Cheap solution that to a customer makes you feel valued instead of money grabbing (surely they don't make that much money from £2 lockers anyway?).

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The lockers are pure profit as they have been there for many years, it’s £2 every time you open it and want to lock it again.

 

Before the price doubled we would use one and probably spend £5-£8 as it was easier to leave drinks there instead of messing with baggage drops.

 

If you got rid of baggage drops then you’d need a massive amount of lockers and they also take up space. And if they were free you’d lose money with idiots keeping keys. The electronic ones at Towers & Chessington are more trouble than they are worth. 

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44 minutes ago, Ringo said:

The lockers are pure profit as they have been there for many years, it’s £2 every time you open it and want to lock it again.

I'm not sure if they actually make any profit for Merlin, while I worked at Chessington the lockers were almost always broken and guests would complain about it. I'm fairly sure another member of staff told me that an external company manages them but not sure if the money goes to them or Merlin.

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8 minutes ago, EpicSmatty said:

I'm not sure if they actually make any profit for Merlin, while I worked at Chessington the lockers were almost always broken and guests would complain about it. I'm fairly sure another member of staff told me that an external company manages them but not sure if the money goes to them or Merlin.

Yep that’s the same for the Towers ones, they are managed externally and as you said they almost always broken. Last year at Chessington I tried to rent one and it gave me a locker that was already in use!

 

The ones at Lego & Thorpe are just old fashioned key ones and given the state of them at Thorpe I’d assume they own them and if they do rent them then the locker company is laughing all the way to the bank as they aren’t maintaining them. 

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19 hours ago, Mattgwise said:

"well our policy and belief is we should never actually put our prices up unless we're giving our customers something in return."

 

  • Umm I am pretty sure most years ticket prices have a tiny increase half way through.
  • Pizza Pasta definitely went up in price a couple of times during the season (It then had no bbq base pizza in my last two visits in October)
  • The car park at Thorpe went up twice!

 

Hmmmm!

 

Yet £50 for a LAP, I think you will find overall the price went down.

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