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Management Strategies of Theme Parks in the Experience Economy Context

A focus on Action Aquaparks customers behaviour and management policy

Author: Darina Todorova Suleva MA European Tourism Management Bournemouth University, UK


Participated universities:
NHTV, Breda, the Netherlands Univesrsidade do Algarve, Portugal

August, 2007

Abstract
The experience economy concept is based on the assumption that the experience value of a product has become a key factor, influencing consumers decision making. On the one hand, this fact is a reason for the emergence of fierce competition for theme parks with other industries which are not considered to offer experiences but rather certain commodities. On the other hand, the changes in consumers behaviour provoke the search for new management strategies and approaches to keep market share and competitive advantage. One of the possible management strategies for theme parks for overcoming the increased competition is suggested to be the Blue Ocean Strategy (Kim and Mauborgne, 2005). The overall aim of this research study has been to explore the Blue Ocean Strategys potential within theme parks and to assess customers influence in order to choose a new management strategy. The study focuses on Action Aquaparks customers and on the practical implementation of a new management approach. An in-depth analysis of literature concerning the experience economy concept, the possible approaches to its challenges and the current situation in theme parks industry was executed in the literature review. The primary research included questionnaires of Action Aquaparks visitors to discover their expectations, satisfaction and motives for future visits. The second part of the empirical study comprised of interviews with four water parks managers in the Algarve, Portugal and with the marketing manager of Action Aquapark. The aim of these personal conversations was to gather in-depth information on the acquaintance of managers with new management approaches and their possible practical application. The main finding of the research is that customers are satisfied with Action Aquaparks product but they need new attractions and experiences to be introduced in order to re-visit the park. Some differences in perceptions between British and Bulgarian customers were outlined. That has led to the conclusion that an approach can be implemented only after it is tested and conformed to the national characteristics and conditions where the park is operating.

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Declaration

I hereby declare that the dissertation submitted is wholly the work of Darina Todorova Suleva. Any other contributors or sources have either been referenced in the prescribed manner or are listed in the acknowledgements, together with the nature and scope of their contribution.

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Table of Contents
ABSTRACT DECLARATION TABLE OF CONTENTS TABLE OF CONTENTS APPENDICES LIST OF TABLES LIST OF FIGURES LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ii iii iv vii viii ix x xi

I.

Introduction I.1. Context and rationale I.2. Research aim and objectives I.3. Introduction to the methodological approach I.4. Limitations, validity and reliability I.5. Dissertation structure

1 1 3 4 5 7 8 8 11 11 14 15 17 19 25 26 29 31 33 37

II. Literature review of the experience economy concept II.1. Introduction II.2. Experiences the new emerging value? II.2.1. Experience economy II.2.2. What is an experience? II.2.3. Experience economy versus entertainment economy II.2.4. Is the experience economy really an economy? II.3. New consumer behaviour in the experience economy II.4. Different approaches in the experience economy context II.4.1. Success factors II.4.2. Experience rules II.4.3. Imagineering II.4.4. Blue Ocean Strategy II.5. Conclusion

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III. Theme/water parks industry III.1. Theoretical framework of theme/water parks III.1.1. Definitions of theme/water parks III.1.2. Characteristics of water parks and their customers III.2. Current management approaches to theme parks III.3. The Bulgarian perspective Action Aquapark III.3.1. History and background III.3.2. Customers of Action Aquapark III.3.3. Competitors of Action Aquapark III.4. Main problems of Action Aquapark IV. Methodology IV.1. Introduction IV.2. Aim and objectives of research IV.3. Primary and secondary research IV.3.1. Primary research approach IV.3.1.1. Quantitative primary research IV.3.1.2. Qualitative primary research III.1.2. Secondary research approach V. Main findings of research V.1. Introduction V.2. Findings through questionnaires V.2.1. Demographic profile V.2.2. Holiday patterns of behaviour V.2.3. Perceptions of a water park and past experience V.2.4. Customers perceptions of Action Aquapark V.2.5. Correlation analysis V.3. Findings through interviews V.4. Conclusion

38 38 38 42 44 50 50 51 54 55 57 57 57 58 58 58 61 62 63 63 63 63 64 64 65 67 68 71

VI. Conclusions and recommendations VI.1. Introduction VI.2. Conclusions of the literature review and the main findings VI.3. Recommendations to Action Aquaparks managers VI.4. Suggestions for future research VI.5. Overall conclusion BIBLIOGRAPHY APPENDICES

72 72 72 74 76 77 78 83

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Table of Contents
APPENDICES
Appendix 1: Euro Disneys attendance and revenue figures for the period 2003-2005 Appendix 2: Distribution of theme parks in Western Europe Appendix 3: Distribution of water parks in Western Europe Appendix 4: Euro Disneys breakdown of transportation used by guests in 2005 Appendix 5: Euro Disneys attendance and revenues figures for the period 2004-2006 Appendix 6: Map of Action Aquapark, Sunny Beach, Bulgaria Appendix 7: Quantitative research of customers of Action Aquapark, July 2006 Appendix 8: Questionnaire distributed among Action Aquaparks customers Appendix 9: Interview with Paulo Severino, manager of Aqua Show Water Park in Portugal Appendix 10: Interview with Maria Jos Anastcio, manager of Aqualand Water Park in Portugal Appendix 11: Interview with Jose Bento, marketing manager of Zoomarine Park in Portugal Appendix 12: Interview with Ana Tendinha, marketing manager of Slide and Splash Water Park in Portugal Appendix 13: Interview with Mila Razsolkova, marketing manager of Action Aquapark in Bulgaria Appendix 14: Figures of findings from the questionnaires 119 123 115 111 106 100 90 96 88 89 87 84 85 86

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List of Tables

Table 2-1 Table 2-2 Table 2-3 Table 2-4 Table 2-5

Evolution of service economy Major determinants of new consumer behaviour Model of consumers behaviour Success factors for the management of theme parks Main differences between Red ocean and Blue ocean strategies

14 20 24 26

34

Table 3-1

Comparison between traditional outdoor leisure and aquatic parks 43 66

Table 5-1

Factors influencing a future visit to Action Aquapark

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List of Figures

Figure 2-1 Figure 2-2 Figure 2-3 Figure 2-4 Figure 3-1 Figure 5-1

Evolution of the economy The experience realms Buyer decision process Defining the experience from the customers perspective Classification of leisure parks Important factors influencing a nice and a happy day in a water park

13 17 22 30 39

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List of Abbreviations
IAAPA NHTV International Attraction and Amusement Parks Association Nationale Hogeschool voor Toerismee en Verkeer (Breda University of Professional Education) IBM op cit. et al. EU CEO WWA UK USA NASTEM ETC ETAG EMEA UNESCO IBM Business Consulting Services in the work quoted and others, where group authorship occurs European Union Chief Executive Officer World Waterpark Association United Kingdom United States of America National Centre of Social and Economic Modelling European Travel Comission European Travel and Tourism Action Group Europe, the Middle East and Africa United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation

Acknowledgements
TO MY DEAR MOTHER Who would have been so proud! This dissertation had to be completed in 2005. But that year I was not able to write it because I gave birth to my wonderful daughter Antonia. And she is the first person I would like to thank. She has shown me emotions and experiences that I have never imagined to exist and nobody in this world could ever offer. I would like to thank her that she is part of my life and inspires me in each step of it. From the moment I saw her she became the emotion of music, the vibration of colour, the sensation of light and the absence of time for me. She is a window to what was, and a doorway to what will be. She is my magic a cherished moment remembered for a lifetime (The Imagineers, 1996, p. 176). Moreover, all my gratitude goes to my supervisor Ariane Portegies of the NHTV, Breda, University of Professional Education. She has shown all the patience to me consulting and supporting me for the long two-year period of my writing. At the beginning, I struggled a lot not understanding what this dissertation should look like. Her never-ending support and advice stimulated me in my way of thinking and researching. Without her professional and friendly guidance I would have never been able to complete this research. Furthermore, I would like to thank Action Aquaparks owner and general manager for always supporting me and giving me the opportunity four years ago to work and learn so many things about management relations and a new industry for me. Last but not least, I need to share all my gratefulness to my husband Slavyan for always being there in the good and bad times, for his great support and endless love. Without him it would not have been possible for me to complete this Master programme.

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I. Introduction
I.1. Context and rationale Theme parks are the major attractions in the tourism industry and they generate the greatest number of visitors and revenues (Holloway, 2002). According to data presented by IAAPA1, by 2008 revenues generated by the amusement industry have increased by 25 percent compared to 2003 and attendance will grow by additional 5 percent per year. Despite the optimistic predictions of a favourable trend of growth in the future, some authors (Pine and Gilmore, Nijs, Millay) support the opinion that amusement industry meets fierce competition even outside the tourism industry. They introduce as a main concern the so called experience economy which has already influenced different business sectors. Experience economy is, on the one hand, a new way of selling business but on the other hand, it has already occupied various aspects of peoples lives. Pine and Gilmore (1999) can be considered as the authors who made the term experience economy popular, discussing it in their book of the same name. The main goal of the present analysis is to outline the main characteristics and traits, point out the impact of the experience economy on theme park industry and the possible approaches which businesses are adopting in order to overcome the challenges. More specifically, the challenges mainly derive from a change in consumer needs and requirements and from the fact that different kinds of businesses, which in the past were regarded as offering just the usual necessary commodities, are now offering new experiences to their customers. Examples of this change are TV commercials. Companies offer not the television itself but the experience that the client will enjoy by buying a certain brand for its technical characteristics. The same is also valid for mobile phones which are not used only for connecting people but for

IAAPA, Innovative Trends in the Global Amusement Industry, available on http://www.numeriqc.ca/documents/ParksAttractions-InnovativeTrendsRecreManagJuly05.pdf, accessed on 07.06.2006

making pictures at the right moment, for sharing feelings, etc. Another case in point is the newspaper. It is your companion while you are drinking your first coffee of the day (advertisement on television). In the tourism industry all the beaches are unspoilt as if every tourist is their discoverer. Those types of examples are found everywhere in peoples lives in the shops, in adverts, in the way commodities are offered. All these changes of the way of selling the products lead to direct and/or indirect competition for theme parks which in the past were considered among the few places which offered experiences, emotions and amusement. Confronted with this problem the author decided to research how theme parks could compete and maintain their market share in the context of the experience economy. The primary research is limited to water parks (they are part of the theme park industry as will be discussed later) in Bulgaria and in Portugal, because these are the countries where the author had easier access to contacts and data. However, as secondary sources I have used examples and opinions from other regions worldwide. The focus of the study is mainly on the changing behaviour of customers, possible management strategies and some factors determining successful management in the context of the experience economy. A specific focus of attention is theme parks. The possible approaches are tested in practice with Action Aquapark, a water park in Bulgaria, as a case study. The issue of the expanding influence of the experience economy is widely discussed (e.g. Pine and Gilmore, Nijs, Florida, Mommaas, OSullivan and Spangler, Boswijk et al., etc.) and used as a basis of some research (e.g. Bos, IBM, Nijs, Florida, Blaas, Pikkemaat and Schucker, etc.). Several scholars (Pine and Gilmore, Nijs, Bos) emphasise the influence that the experience economy will have on theme park industry. However, the author could not find either in libraries2 or on the internet, any relevant literature and/or research papers where concrete investigation of the issues that theme parks face in the context of the experience economy, are given. Nijs (2003) published a study on imagineering as a set of instruments which can be
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Libraries at NHTV University, Breda, the Netherlands; at Universidade do Algarve, Portugal; and at the University of National and World Economy, Sofia, Bulgaria

used for achieving corporate goals in response to the emergence of the experience economy. However, this research is mainly concentrated on the changes the experience economy is provoking in society and deals only with its influence on theme parks sector. Pikkemaat and Schucker (2004) presented a paper dealing with the new customer in the experience economy. This report to a great extent relates to the topic discussed in this dissertation but concerns more the edutainment attractions and does not provide strategic management policies recommended. Although this dissertation concentrates on the theme parks industry it can be seen, on a smaller scale, as a contribution to the work of Nijs (2003) and also to the paper presented by Pikkemaat and Schucker (2004).

I.2. Research aim and objectives The overall aim of the dissertation is on the basis of theoretical and empirical research to identify and analyse the management strategies which will allow theme parks, facing fierce competition in the context of the experience economy, to adapt to the current changes and maintain their market shares. Particular attention will be paid to the concept of the experience economy since this is a new but prominent subject which influences not only theme parks but the whole tourism industry. The aim of the dissertation will be attained by accomplishing the following objectives: 1) Identify and analyse the theoretical frame of the experience economy, its main characteristics, trends and challenges in order to reach the possible approaches and instruments for competing in its environment. 2) Carry out a thorough analysis of the current situation of the theme park industry. 3) Examine the management activities, competitors and positioning of Action Aquapark. 4) Adopt a theoretical model and/or strategy for Action Aquapark to adapt to the current changes and maintain its market share.

The answers of the following research questions will be the guiding line in completing the stated objectives: What is experience economy? What is the new customer behaviour in the experience economy? What are the possible approaches and answers to the new challenges? What is a theme park and a water park? Who are theme parks customers? How should the management of theme parks change to maintain and improve their market share despite the fierce competition? Concrete research questions concerning the primary research are formulated on the basis of the literature review completed.

I.3. Introduction to the methodological approach Literature overview of the theoretical frame and approaches is presented, in order to define the research aim and objectives. As stated above many authors discuss the matter of the experience economy. Unfortunately, only a few of them (Pine and Gilmore, OSullivan and Spangler, Diane Nijs, Bos, Blaas, Pikkemaat and Schucker) relate briefly the experience economy to the changes and future development of theme parks. This type of attraction is mainly referred to as an example of an experience industry. After analysing the concept of the experience economy, some success factors for the management will be discussed; some actions for preparation for an experience-based competitive landscape, identified by IBM will be presented; the possible use of imagineering in theme parks management highlighted; and the Blue Ocean Strategy which accumulates some of the previous stated references described. For a clearer understanding of the term theme parks, this sector of the attraction industry will be analysed and the changes that occur in it will be discussed. Finally, the literature review will present strategies for the improvement of management of theme parks. In the first part of the dissertation, different methods are used methods of analysis and synthesis, comparative analysis, observation method, and also descriptive and statistical-econometric analytical methods.

The practical adoption of the Blue Ocean Strategy will be discussed in the primary research of the dissertation. In the process of the primary research I have used expert opinions collected from water parks managers questioned in Algarve, Portugal and in Action Aquapark, Bulgaria. Additionally, the responses of tourists who visited Action Aquapark from 15th of August till 1st of September 2006 were collected by questionnaires in order to analyse the preferences, values and motives of the customers. Consequently, I have attempted to find out whether the psychology of tourists is changing in the context of the new economy. Furthermore, I have used a survey conducted by a research company ordered by the management of Action Aquapark. To obtain more information, data published in official sources by theme and water parks will be used, as well as results of studies taken by specialised institutions, and theoretical and empirical studies of Bulgarian and foreign authors in the field of the attraction industry. Finally, the main findings of the research are summarised and analysed in order to draw some conclusions and recommendations.

I.4. Limitations, validity and reliability One of the most important limitations to the methodological approach is the lack of comparable statistics for theme parks in Europe and in the world. Data for only the five biggest attraction parks in the world has been sourced. One of the authors who discuss the terms validity and reliability is Veal (1997). He defines validity as the scope to which the gathered information truly reflects the investigated issue. In the tourism industry as a whole the validity is very difficult to be achieved because this industry is dealing mainly with peoples subjective perceptions, requirements and behaviour. The primary research therefore could be influenced by the experts or the tourists experiences, status, education, etc. They could also be prejudiced by other peoples opinions, by the extent to which they

provide information and their hierarchical position in the organisation or in the society. Reliability is defined as the scope to which the research finding would be the same if the research was repeated in a different period of time or with different respondents. The experience economy is a phenomenon that already occupies peoples lives. It constantly extends to various aspects of business. Furthermore, theme parks each year introduce new hi-tech attractions (in each edition of Water Parks Magazine various innovations are presented). In this context, things are changing so dynamically that if this research was carried out in a different year, the results would in all likelihood be different. However, peoples perceptions, expectations and behaviour are, more or less, generalisable within each generation, so it could be considered that the research of tourists opinion will be similar. Another limitation is budget. With more disposable budget the author could gather information from more amusement parks within Europe. Then the comparative analysis would be more in-depth and would evoke more questions or supply more answers. Last but not least, the seasonal character of water parks (where the research is conducted) determined the few months when the study could be made. However, the period of the research was chosen according to the number of visitors throughout the summer season and the national variety of customers. In the second half of August, the attendance of the parks is in its peak, and tourists from various nationalities are visiting the seaside of Bulgaria.

I.5. Dissertation structure The study is structured in introduction, four chapters, conclusions and recommendations. This dissertation starts with a literature review of the current evidence of the experience economy. This description includes the authors personal observations and analyses as well as opinions from different authors supporting the facts from real life. Characteristics, trends and challenges of the experience economy are discussed also in this chapter. Afterwards, some factors, actions, tools and a possible strategy are presented. Their practical adoption is considered in the context of the changing business and their integration in the development of theme parks product. For a thorough explanation of the matter, an analysis of theme park industry follows in the third chapter, in order to identify the key challenges that theme parks are facing. After their definition, characteristics and customers are revealed, the current management approaches are examined because it is believed that the changes influenced by the new economy are reflected mostly in this field. In this chapter Action Aquapark is also introduced. The main problems of the Bulgarian water park are set which will be investigated in the primary research. The fourth chapter represents the methodological approach of the primary and secondary investigations, the limitations and problems encountered. The fifth chapter presents the main findings of the quantitative and qualitative primary and secondary research. All the findings are linked to the theory in the sixth chapter. The research suggests some recommendations to Action Aquaparks managers for future development and references for future research. The dissertation finishes with a conclusion dealing with the main aim of research.

II. Literature review of the experience economy concept


II.1. Introduction A few decades ago theme parks, concerts, theatres, cinemas, television and travelling were the only activities that offered new experiences and emotions to their customers. Lately this has been radically changing. The boom of video games, virtual reality games, DVDs, the growing power and opportunities of internet are only a few examples of spending spare time. Producers discovered a new value in society the need for experience, feelings, emotions. All people, busy in their everyday life, need something for their souls and hearts and the industry is offering exactly what the customers need. Experiences have already been introduced, integrated and infused into all aspects of consumption and existence. Pine and Gilmore published in 1999 a study which pointed out the changes occurring in economy and society. In brief, the economy was formerly based on trade in raw materials and then gradually replaced by standardised goods. During the 20th century, the share of services increased until, by the end of the century, the services sector accounted for eighty percent of the total employment. Products have become a side issue. A significant example is the mobile phone: for it no user pays the actual retail price, and almost nobody is even aware of it. The price of the mobile phone is often symbolic: its cost is included in the price of the service, the calls themselves (Gierstberg and Vroege, 2003). In other words, agriculture was at first the only sector responsible for value creation in society (agricultural economy), then the emphasis was shifted on the industries (industrial economy) and now for several years it has been talked about services economy, which has already reached its culmination. Therefore, it is clear that the progressive value creation proceeded from raw materials to goods and from goods to services, in order to reach experiences and even dreams (Nijs, 2003).

The economy is now driven by price erosion, potential purchasing power and human needs, therefore it develops even further, transforming at first, marketing activities. In fact, services and goods are made into components of precisely stage-managed events that are meant to offer an individual experience. An enterprise becomes also an experience stager (Pine and Gilmore, 1999). The emphasis is placed on the experience of the product, on what you can do with it, rather than on its physical characteristics. The value or attractiveness of a product or service is increasingly based on a specific experience, which the purchase or use of the article in question will give to the consumer. The lifestyle concept, which indirectly links the consumer with a specific social group, is no longer the leading priority. From now on, it is about the experience. Enterprises want to evoke moods, emotions and sensations, and this can be best achieved with complete immersion. Peugeot, for example, has opened an Experience Centre, and Smirnoff stages Smirnoff experience events. Another example is Phillips, which has changed its branding concept to Sense and simplicity. The new positioning aims to give customers a distinctive image of a sharper enterprise, which, throughout its activities in healthcare, lifestyle and technology, is held together by a common drive to deliver intuitive end-user experiences.3 Another hi-tech company Samsung is using only one, but saturated with feelings, word imagine. Samsungs brand marketing campaign for 2006 is teasing consumers perceptions in all kinds of advertising channels4. Other examples are kitchens for demonstrating products and visitor centres for car buyers which become, on their respective scale, like a theme park. However, not all brands can open an experience centre (especially if the product competes on price), unless your brand can maintain an hour and a half dialogue, states Ian Buxton, managing director of The Edinburgh Consultancy. And Ylva Persson, global marketing manager of Bombay Sapphire agrees, it all depends on how much personality a brand has (Proquest, 2003).

AME Info, Philips Realigns Around New Brand Promise, available on http://www.ameinfo.com/news/Detailed/45742.html, accessed on 13.07. 2006 Tom Biro, Samsungs Imagine Campaign, available on http://www.adjab.com/2005/06/09/samsungs-imagine-campaign/, accessed on 13.07.2006

In this regard, theme parks are also becoming more and more numerous, some are purely for entertainment, some offer a mix of culture and history. Those parks are, of course fake, but that does not matter much. The reality, in fact, does not have to be authentic, so long as the experience is! Important are the tangible memories of a unique, personal experience (Gierstberg and Vroege, 2003). According to Rifkin (2000), Erdly and Kesterson (2002) these changes are clearly linked to technological advances. Rifkin (2000) argues that nowadays it is the entertainment industry which is the driving force behind further development of technology. His concern is that, in its pursuit of economic success, the entertainment industry might make the experience of life itself (the lived experience) into a consumer good that must be paid for. He classifies travel and entertainment as the experience industries and predicts that they will dominate in the modern global economy. Several different names have been given to this new economy in different countries: Experience Economy, Emotional Economy, Sense Economy, Attention Economy, etc. The next paragraph reviews those different definitions of the experience economy, its influences and challenges. A dispute on the difference between experience economy and entertainment economy is presented and the highly debatable issue whether the experience economy is an economy.

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II.2. Experiences the new emerging value?

The very excitement aroused by the mushrooming growth of the service sector has diverted professional attention from another shift that will deeply affect both goods and services in the future. It is this shift that will lead to the next forward movement of the economy, the growth of a strange new sector based on what can only be called the experience industries. Alvin Toffler (1970, p. 221)

II.2.1. Experience economy

Back in 1970 Alvin Tofler mentioned the experience industries as a new sector that will appear in the economy of the future. That quote proves that the idea of the experience economy was established a long time ago and its emergence was foreseen. Recently the concept of the experience economy has come to be increasingly discussed and analysed, probably due to its invasion of numerous sectors of the economy. Before discussing its impact and influence it is necessary to make clear what different authors mean by experience economy. According to Pine and Gilmore (1999, p. 3-4), companies stage an experience whenever they engage customers in a personal and memorable way. Basically, this means transforming every customer encounter into a stage event. However, the metaphor of the stage fails to explain exactly how this engaging is brought about. The effect of their thesis in the practice is debatable because it is developed in the context of the prosperous economy in the US that was tolerant of high prices, inflated claims, and no limitations of supply or investment, and all this against the background of the flourishing e-business5. As it will be discussed later, businesses in the USA and in Europe are quite different and theories can not apply equally to both continents.

Wikipedia, The Experience Economy, available on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experience_economy, accessed on 15.07.2006

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Mommaas (2000, p. 43) concedes that the content and status of the term experience economy is rather vague in Anglo-Saxon literature. He also points out that in the German literature Gerhardt Schultze (1985) has made the first attempt to define the term experience in a more precise way. Schultze describes experience, using the term Erlebnis, referring to the direct and total affection of the senses, which involves an entanglement of body and mind. He opposes this term to that of Erfahrung, the latter term referring more to a long term learning process. From French point of view (Destot, 2000), experience economy involves building a sustainable competitive benefit in order to establish customers loyalty in the field of communication and recreation. Instead of offering more and more, it is better to do what the others do not offer like offering a global experience to customers that they will keep in their mind forever. The conception of doing what the others do not offer will be supported by other authors and theories later and will be investigated thoroughly in the next chapters. According to Barlow and Maul (2000), experience economy is an economy in which customers expect every level of their commercial existence to have positive, emotional and memorable impact. Service providers need to produce a distinctive personal and emotional experience for each customer. Emotion has become a critical aspect of interactions in the service economy. Emotional value is the economic value or monetary worth of feelings when customers positively experience an organisations products or services. OSullivan and Spangler (1998, p. 326) refer to the experience economy as individuals or organisations whose sole purpose is to create a particular kind of an experience for their clients. Within this context they make the explanation that experiences are being created to meet the growing needs of people to experience a different way of life or to take part in a fantasy or dream of their own whether big or small.

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Analysing the various definitions of experience economy there could be distinguished some common words and terms used in all of them. Organisations and companies are offering to the customers, memories, events, affection of senses, emotion, spirit, fantasy, dream, emotional and memorable impacts. In this case the individual (the customer) is the recipient of the offerings. As it was already explained in the introduction, experience economy is an evolution of the service economy. Figure 2-1 presents those stages of economical development. It is based both on the economic pyramid introduced by Pine and Gilmore (1999, p.177) and later on developed by Njis (2003, p. 17). Afterwards, for more clear distinction between service economy and experience economy Table 2-1 presents some of the main differences.

Value creation in the competition sphere Differentiated immaterial/ emotional

Transformation Experiences Services Goods

Undifferentiat ed material

Commodities

1750

2000

Time

Source: Pine and Gilmore (1999, p. 177) and Njis (2003, p. 17)

Figure 2-1: Evolution of the economy

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Table 2-1: Evolution of service economy

Economy of Services What is offered Nature of the offer The approach The seller The buyer Motivation of the buyer Challenge of supplier Added value for the buyer Involved industries and jobs Service Intangible Adaptation Supplier Client Answer to a need To react to the need of the buyer Making a service Hotels, restaurants, hairdressers, car rental, airlines, etc.

Experience Economy Event and emotion Unforgettable Personalisation Director Guest Build a personal story To understand the life of the buyer Realising of a service and added value in the buyers life Artists, designers, musicians, painters, inventors, architects, film makers, etc.

Source: Suleva, D., Romano, A and Duhil, K., (2005, p. 8)

Table 2-1 also indicates that in the context of the experience economy, occurring in the society and in the economy, theme parks are part of the experience economy, since their management and personnel are offering events, experience, emotions and memories to their customers.

II.2.2. What is an experience?

The discussion of the experience economy shows that the experience value of a product has become a key factor, influencing consumers decision making. Thus, next it appears the question what is an experience? According to Webster Dictionary6 experience is something personally encountered, undergone, or lived through; the act or process of directly perceiving events or reality. The experience is something deeply personal, at different levels such as physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual level (Destot, 2002). Pine and Gilmore (1999, p.11) point out the most important characteristic of the experiences they are memorable.
Merriam-Webster Online, available on http://www.webster.com/cgi-bin/dictionary, accessed on 27.07.2006
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Another essential aspect is that in the context of the experience economy people have to be (and are) charged for an experience. Quan and Wang (2004) propose different discussion on the subject. They distinguish two types of experiences peak experience and consumer experience. The peak experience is derived by an attraction and is in sharp contrast to the daily experience. The consumer experience is more about consumption and spending, mainly supportive experiences, e.g. sleeping, eating, etc. However, the authors (op cit.) illustrated a model of interrelation of both dimensions. As the discussion shows even the issue of the experiences remains debatable.

II.2.3. Experience economy versus entertainment economy

The experience economy (also called emotional economy, sense economy, etc, in the different countries and by different authors) is also seen as entertainment economy by some of the above mentioned authors (Destot, Barlow and Maul, OSullivan and Spangler) since the essence of both economies is hidden in the question: How to offer feelings and emotion to customers? This question is of a crucial importance for all the industries and therefore all the companies are trying to find a way to survive in the context of the fierce competition in the age of the new economy. In an interview Pine and Gilmore (12 October 1999)7 pointed out the differences between both of the economies. While the entertainment industry engages passively the senses, the experience economy is engaging people by personal participation. It could be suggested that reality television formats like Big Brother, Survivor, etc. are an answer of that division of both economies. In those kinds of realities ordinary people are participating and the viewers are able to identify themselves with the participants. An interesting fact worth mentioning is that while USA has tended to be a laboratory for the attractions business, much of it appended to Hollywood (Stevens, 2000, p. 74), Big Brother was invented by a Dutch company and Survivor was created in the UK. Real life soaps once again contribute to the high needs for additional experiences in consumers. Here, it can be
Harvard Business School, Working Knowledge for Business Leaders, available on http://199.94.20.134/item.jhtml?id=863&t=marketing, accessed on 24.07.2006
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pointed out again that theme parks industry is part of the experience economy because each customer is actively encountering all the amusements and his/her senses are only one part of the experience. For clearer distinction Pine and Gilmore (1999, p. 30) introduce four possibilities for the organisations to engage customers in experiences. The four experience realms unambiguously explain the above discussed differences between entertainment and experience economy. The most important dimensions on engaging guests are guest participation (actively or passively) and environmental relationship of the guests with the event (absorption or immersion). Those four realms are presented on figure 2-2. The passive participation of customers is observed when people do not directly affect or influence the event, e.g. going to a concert. At the other extreme is the active participation of consumers when they personally affect or influence the event that provokes the experience, e.g. fishing, hunting, etc. The vertical line at figure 2-2 stands for the environmental relationship. The absorption process refers to the mind of the customers, when the experience goes into the person. And the immersion suggests that the customer physically will become part of the experience, which means that the person goes into the experience. Reading a book seems to be an example for absorption, whereas swimming in the pool is more an immersion experience. Figure 2-2 on the next page illustrates that in the entertainment industry customers absorb the environment while taking passive participation in the event. This neither is valid for theme parks in general nor for a certain part of a specific theme park. The guests of amusement parks usually actively participate in all the attractions and they immerse into the experiences that the park offers.

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Absorption

Active Participation

Passive Participation

Entertainment

Educational

Esthetic

Escapist

Immersion Figure 2-2: The experience realms


Source: Pine and Gilmore (1999, p. 30)

Analysing figure 2-2 it could be concluded that theme parks are part of the escapist realm. Generally people choose to visit a theme park when they would like to escape from reality or routine. The experience is an added value to the product offered by this type of attractions.

II.2.4. Is the experience economy really an economy?

While it is possible to define what experience and experience economy is, it is still broadly debatable the question whether the experience economy is an economy. On the one hand, it could be considered as an economy because there is a seller, a buyer and a market (the basic determinants of the economy) and certain interaction between them. On the other hand, the term economy involves governmental regulations, international relationships (import and export), taxes, etc. In this regard it could be considered as an industry, which purpose is the creation of something of

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value by a distinct group of productive or profit-making enterprises8. Another aspect of analysing that issue is that the experience economy could be considered as the demand side (customers want experiences) and the service economy could be regarded as the supply side (companies mainly operating in the service sector offer experiences to their clients). However, the experience economy is about more than just offering a staged setting for an experience. Though, the starting point should be the individuals personal experience: his or her everyday world and societal context. Afterwards, follows the ability of companies to link personal, social, cultural and economic experiences and to make them manageable in practice. In this regard, it could be pointed out that Pine and Gilmore (1999) in their book approach the experience economy from the perspective of the individual and his/her potential program of giving meaning to his/her life. The issue, however, whether this is an economy or not is very broad and remains highly debatable. What is known for sure is that businesses are facing new challenges which probably partly could be explained with changes in the consumers motivations, needs and experiences. This will be discussed in the next paragraph. Pine and Gilmore (1999) predict that in the near future companies which fail to follow the new requirements for experience will not contrive to stay in business for long. In the new century, many companies are trying to stage experiences even when they sell just a material product (examples were presented above). This leads to the fact that theme parks now face scores of competitors in every line of business, both traditional and experimental (Pine and Gilmore, 1999, p. 3). However, there are many examples from the practice showing some of the difficulties that theme parks encounter. Euro Disney, for example, delayed the building of its second development near Paris, called Disney Studio, which opened in 2002. It was expected the Studio to boost visitor numbers to around 17 million a year (Holloway, 2002). Undoubtedly, the managers of Disney made their calculations before undertaking such an investment. However, Euro Disneys number of visitors in 2003, 2004 and 2005 are not more than 12.4 million which is much lower than the expectations (see Appendix
Merriam-Webster Online, available on http://www.webster.com/dictionary/industry, accessed on 27.07.2006
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1). It may be that the explanation could be sought in a market force or a change in the consumer behaviour caused by the age of the experience economy. In recent years the way how people are spending their money is changing. In the experience economy people pay to do things and not to have things. Further on, the customers will be analysed again in the context of the experience economy. This will contribute to the profound explanation of the things that have been changing in recent years. The investigation of the new consumer behaviour is important for the practical implementation of a certain management strategy, because it should be applied in accordance to the new customers attitudes. The supply side will be discussed in the next chapter and here the demand side (the customers) will be considered.

II.3. New consumer behaviour in the experience economy The dynamic changes of business environment are the starting point of numerous research and publications on the new trends of leisure and tourism behaviour. Some authors (Pikkemaat and Schuckert, Erdly and Kesterson, Harding and Robinson) claim that all those transformations and emerging changes are a result of the evolution of consumers behaviour. This evolution could imply numerous reasons. But for clearer understanding of the changes in the economy, and the consequent choice of management strategies, it is very important to understand the main factors which have led to this transformation. Interpreting the mushrooming literature on leisure trends, Pikkemaat and Schuckert (2004, p. 2) made an attempt to identify the major determinants of new consumer behaviour in leisure and tourism, listed in table 2-2, which will likely reshape the industry. Those determinants of consumer behaviour define new parameters of the tourism product which are of significant importance for the future success of any company in leisure business. Those characteristics will be used in describing water park customers in Bulgaria. Then it will be shown that these determinants are valid for Western Europeans but are still partly applicable for Bulgarians.

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Table 2-2: Major determinants of new consumer behaviour Major Determinants Multiculturalisation Meaning The process of combing and accepting different cultures which leads to changes of every day cultures. This blending of foreign cultures leads to new forms of every day life. Acceptance of new information and communication technologies in various aspects of peoples life, including the presentation and interpretation of culture in its different forms of expression. This is a worldwide trend. However, different in each country (Hofstede, 2001). People tend to show more individualistic behaviour. They would like to exert high level of control over their own decisions and be in charge within all travel related decisions along the destination value chain. The character of todays mass tourist is a combination of accumulated travel experience from the past and seniority (aging of customers). Tourists are becoming much more quality conscientious and travel smart. They want to experience the combination of old and new, traditional and modern, active and passive, authentic and derived goods and services. Among Western Europeans, frequent, short-haul and short-average-stay holidays are becoming more popular. This implies that travel intensity has to increase, culture sites have to be visited faster and more efficiently. Todays European tourists have higher disposable income and that enables them to spent time for health-related activities, e.g. health care and spa centres. People tend to prefer vacation and travel experiences which are personalised and personally perceived as authentic.

Multi media

Individuality

Travel experience

Time matters

Health awareness

Authenticity

Source: Pikkemaat and Schuckert (2004, p. 2)

Todays consumer is getting all the possible information even before choosing a destination, in his/her desire to take individually decision of a holiday. That is the reason the tourist product is becoming more and more personalised. People want to explore new places, and having higher disposable income they are more flexible in choosing a destination. The increase of short-stay and short-haul holidays

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establishes a new market niche that of a weekend destination. In this case theme parks are a suitable option and they succeed in filling that niche. However, those determinants also cause a change in the profile of the so called mass tourist. Frequent tourists show different preferences, motivations and needs. So, these trends can not be generalised as people are becoming more diverse, critical and demanding. Theme parks are able to offer services and products which could satisfy a large segment of tourists they offer different attractions for diverse tastes and ages, they are safe and clean, they are a full-day attraction, they offer emotions and experiences. The analysis of the changing patterns of leisure consumer behaviour is raising the question of the experience value of a product. People want more and more experiences and that demand is a key factor influencing consumers decision making (Pikkemaat and Schuckert, 2004). Florida (2002 p. 170) adds that life has become scarce and precious commodity and as a result many people define the quality of their lives by the quality of experiences they consume. Kotler, Ph., et al. (2003) presented a model illustrating the buyers decision process. Figure 2-3 points out that the last phase post purchase behaviour, is where the customer determines whether he/she is satisfied with the purchase or not, depending on the result compared to expectations prior to purchase or consumption (Oliver, 1980). This is a very important element of theme park industry. Attractions, in general, suggest that almost every customer has some kind of expectations prior to the purchase because usually people have a period of anticipation before encountering the attraction. They visit an attraction during their free time, they are in positive mood and usually the time for travelling to it is spent thinking about or discussing the attraction. Florida (2002, p. 167) supports the opinion by pointing out that experiences extend far beyond the point of purchase. He suggests that anticipation is more important than the actual consumption. This is especially valid for theme parks because children (the main market) are excited, they are imagining what will be there, they are anxious and curious. The post purchase behaviour is of a great significance for theme parks because it determines the likelihood of future visit and the positive word-of-mouth which is one of the best promoting channels for that industry. Ross and Iso-Ahola (in Bansal and Eiselt, 2003, p. 388) suggest that post-

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experience satisfaction is related to the realisation of motivation perceptions prior to the experience, they describe satisfaction not as an absolute measure, but as a function of the difference between expectation and (perceived) reality. Because of their importance, the elements of fulfilling the expectation and the post purchase behaviour will be employed in the empirical research of customers of the analysed water park. This last phase of Kotlers model will be also mentioned once again in the analysis of the customers assessment of the travel experience, suggested by IBM research.

Need recognition

Information search

Evaluation of alternatives

Purchase decision

Post purchase behaviour

Source: Kotler, Ph., et al. (2003, p. 219)

Figure 2-3: Buyer decision process This buyer decision process could also be considered in the context of the experience economy. As discussed earlier, the need recognition is apparent for the necessity of experiences and emotions in nowadays society. That is why it could be assumed that customers would go directly to the second phase. According to the main determinants of the new consumer behaviour, presented in table 2-2, information flow is very easy accessible and customers find the necessary information only with one click of the mouse. Then follows the third phase where the problem in the experience economy can be seen. As earlier examples have shown people now have numerous alternatives for satisfying their need of experiences. Here is the stage where theme parks should reconsider their management strategies. The new managerial policy should aim at creating an

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attractive product which will catch the attention of the consumer while evaluating the alternatives. In fact, that represents the overall aim of the present dissertation, cited in the first chapter. Reichheld (2006, Online source) argues that it is not so important to fulfil customers expectations and to satisfy them but it is much more important to make the customers promoters of the company by recommendation to friends. Customer loyalty in the tourism industry includes the likelihood of future visit, how likely it is that the tourist changes the brand, how likely it is that the customer will be a promoter by positive word-of-mouth (Andreassen and Lindestad, 1998). Research done by Reichheld and Sasser (in OSullivan and Sprangler, 1998, p. 169) reveals that a mere five percent increase in customer loyalty can result in a hundred percent increase in profitability. The results of other research on consumer loyalty (Andreassen and Lindestad, 1998) conclude that corporate image is the dominant factor to customer loyalty. In the large amount of literature discussing the question, corporate image is proposed to be also an important factor in the general perception of an organisation. On a company level, image has been defined by Keller (1993) as perceptions of an organization reflected in the associations held in consumer memory. The image of a company or a destination plays also a significant role in the process of choosing a certain place to be visited (Bansal and Eiselt, 2003). Tapachai and Waryszak (2000) suggest that the image of a destination depends on five consumption values functional, social, emotional, epistemic and conditional. The emotional value (which is of importance to the present research) deals with the perceived benefit that the consumer receives by aroused feelings and affected senses. Bansal and Eiselt (2003) who also support the same division of the five values imply in the epistemic value the utility caused by aroused curiosity, provision of novelty and satisfying a desire of knowledge. The importance of those values is on the increase in the experience economy context and will be subject of investigation in the research part of the dissertation. Jenkins (1999) presents a model according to which two of the factors that influence the formation of consumers tourist image are motivations and perceptions. There

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are various motives for choosing a specific destination or an attraction. Primarily, they depend on the characteristics of each tourist. That is the reason for the mushrooming literature classifying the motivations. The most frequently quoted classification is the one according to which the motives are: natural, cultural, economical, psychological and ecological. Shmol (in Ribov, 2005, p. 35) proposed a model for the consumers behaviour in which he combines the mechanism of consumer behaviour with the supply of tourist services and the influence of stimulating and external factors. This model, presented in table 2-3, includes incentives for travelling, individual and social factors, and external factors.

Table 2-3: Model of consumers behaviour

Factors Incentives for travelling

Elements Advertisement Accessibility Information for the trip Satisfaction of other customers Tour operators recommendations Socio-economic status Individual characteristics Social impacts and needs Values Motivation Expectations Interests of tourists Search of information Estimation of alternative trips Decision making process Trust in the supplier (tour operator) Image of the destination Past experience Estimation of the risk Quality/price and quality/quantity of the tourist attraction Attractiveness Type of trip Different possibilities for travelling

Individual and social factors for the consumer behaviour

External factors

Source: Ribov (2005, p. 35)

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The elements of the factors shown in table 2-3 cover to some extent the issues discussed previously in this chapter. The presented analysis of the new consumer behaviour outlines the main points of interest which will be used as a basis of the questionnaire distributed among customers of Action Aquapark in Bulgaria. The main elements that will be researched include: fulfilling the expectations and the likelihood of future visit and positive word-of-mouth (recommendations), customer loyalty, perceived image benefit, characteristics of tourists. In accordance with table 2-3 the dissertation will investigate the elements of advertisement, source of information, level of satisfaction, tour operator recommendations, socio-economical status, estimation of alternatives, past experience and attractiveness as a basis of the empirical study of the customers. The appraisal of the results of the surveys will provide sufficient information (whether the customers have changed in the context of the experience economy) for the implementation of a proper management strategy. However, successful and efficient tourism operation must not only concentrate on and analyse the customers and their behaviour but also to determine what products are offered and how they are marketed (Hu, 1996). That is why in the next paragraphs different approaches in management strategies and marketing tools in the experience economy will be considered and afterwards the theme parks industry will be analysed.

II.4. Different approaches in the experience economy context This paragraph includes a review of the possible answers and tools with regard to the challenges previously defined. There will be presented factors, tools, strategies and approaches which businesses are adopting in order to overcome the difficulties which are a consequence of the emerging power and influence of the experience economy. After an analysis of the theme parks industry, an evaluation will be made of the presented strategies and approaches for theme parks more specifically, in order to find out which one/s could be the most likely to be implemented and to succeed.

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II.4.1. Success factors

Pikkemaat and Schuckert (2004) discuss some success factors for management of theme parks. After a thorough literature review, they have summarized several factors divided in three major fields: factors affecting the supply side, factors triggering the market and factors which are set by the infrastructure and services within theme parks. Those factors, presented in table 2-4, could be considered in the analysis of the situation and could help in the process if choosing new possible management strategy. Managers could investigate which factors were fulfilled and on which ones should be paid additional attention. This will also contribute to drawing a conclusion as to the field (supply side, triggering the market or infrastructure and services) which needs special improvement in the overall management strategy.

Table 2-4: Success factors for the management of theme parks

Factors affecting the supply side Multifarious range of options and possibilities Clearly defined product to keep uniqueness against competitors Continuing innovation Properly adjusted product to the right segment of the market Themed product with a continuing storyboard Environmental (economic, social and ecological) integration

Factors triggering the market Imagination for sale by temporarily change of the artificial environment Impart impressions and emotions as persuasive as possible Customers involvement and interactivity Branding creates a good image and recognition of theme parks Image creation is important for the customers expectations

Factors which are set by the infrastructure and services Quality in all levels of the product Safety and security Trained and motivated staff Capacity and queue management Design Functionality and infrastructure Weather inclemency

Source: Pikkemaat and Schuckert (2004, p. 7)

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From personal observations and interviews, managers are strictly pursuing the fulfilment of the factors which are set by the infrastructure and services. Quality is something that the new demanding customer expects to find in each product or service. Aware of this fact, managers invest in more trained and motivated staff. Different kinds of additional qualifications and stimulations underline the human resources policy in each organisation offering services. Well-trained, experienced employees represent a theme park's best investment in guest safety and enjoyment (Niles, 2004, Online Source). Another very important aspect which is of great importance for todays society is safety and security. In accordance with all the public rules concerning that matter, theme parks (which represent large area with many people) are obliged (even though there are no specific EU directives governing the safety of theme parks) to follow not only the security procedures but also to provide safe environment for the tourists. The proper design of a park corresponds not only to the overall material perception of the attraction but also to another factor from this field the capacity and queue management. During last decade this factor became very important for theme parks which did not plan in advance the duration of visitors activities and the subsequent queue management. In the light of capacity limitations, some parks have already instituted measures to reduce wait time. All the Walt Disney parks adapt well to consumer trends, and in line with growing demand for customised holiday experiences, the company launched Magic Your Way, a ticket programme that gives guests the flexibility to purchase packages tailored to the interests and length of stay required for their group. They are also using the in-house-created Fastpass virtual queue system. The three U.K. parks owned by The Tussauds Group also use virtual queuing program. Other parks use less technical ways to control lines. Cedar Point used a paper reservation system in 2000 for its Millennium Force coaster. Universal Studios, Orlando has early opening hours for its two-day pass holders that will give the guests early access to the rides effectively lowering the line length for all later in the day. Universal also has a no-line, no-wait policy for its resort guests. Anyone showing a room key to a Universal resort hotel gets to go to the front of the line at both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure theme parks (OBrien, 2001, Online source). Queue management also leads to reconsideration of the next factor

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functionality and infrastructure. The weather inclemency factor is mainly taken into account and implemented in colder countries where many indoor attraction sites are constructed. In Germany, for example, the worlds largest indoor rainforest, called Tropical Islands opened its doors two years ago9. Many of the water parks not situated near a beach destination have a certain part of their territory covered, allowing for its use all the year round. As it could be seen from the presented examples, theme parks managers have been adopting and considering the factors cited in the last column of table 2-4 since the beginning of the new century. It is more challenging, however, to put into practice, as part of the management strategy, some of the factors from the other two fields. At first glance, it can be seen that most of the factors were already mentioned in the discussion of the experience economy. This leads to the assumption that the factors affecting the supply side and the factors triggering the market are a result of the emerging influence of the experience economy. Those factors will not be analysed in details here because it was suggested that factors like: innovation, imagination, impression and emotions, involvement and interactivity, and image creation are part of management strategies adopted in the experience economy context. Those factors in addition with the branding and the process of keeping the uniqueness against competitors are implemented in the approaches that will be discussed next. The structure of analysis of the possible approaches of theme parks in the context of the experience economy follows a logical interrelation. The presented factors outline the immaterial characteristics of theme parks product through innovation the product should implement imagination, impression and emotions, involvement and interactivity of customers. Next paragraph will describe the elements of the customers assessment of the travel experience. This will present a vision of the new product which should be offered by theme parks when experience rules. Then the imagineering will be used as a starting point for operating strategically and tactically by creating durable emotional commitment not only of customers but also of
Tropical Islands, My Day in Paradise. available on http://www.my-tropical-islands.com/paradiese.htm, accessed on 27.07.2007
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employees. Finally, those assumptions will become part of the management strategy which practical adoption and possible implementation will be evaluated for water parks, after the analysis of theme parks industry is completed.

II.4.2. Experience rules

Erdly and Kesterson (2002) claim that due to globalisation and technological advancements hospitality and leisure providers will tailor their products and services to customers individual tastes. They envision a fundamental shift from traditional hospitality and leisure offerings to a new paradigm of individually customised travel experiences. Figure 2-4 represents the experience from the customers perspective. What is of main importance in this figure is that customers assessment of the travel experience is holistic. The experience extends across all travel components and each company could imply in its management strategy the option to offer more components from the overall travel experience. It can be seen that theme parks are part of last phase Do. The assumption could be made that amusement parks which offer, for example, a hotel nearby could form a resort which will be of a greater value for tourists and also organisations should focus on the end-to-end travel experience. Berman (2002, p. 2) oppose this statement by affirming that such kind of vertical integration is a relic of the industrial age. He assumes that in the experience economy the possession of several steps of the value chain is meaningless. In the experience economy the experience does not begin at the departure or end upon completion. As it was stated before, Erdly and Kesterson (2002) also support the opinion that customers of theme parks have a period of anticipating before encountering the attraction. They suggest part of the fun to be a virtual experience while planning the trip. A virtual theme park interaction can promise the excitement of being there and the opportunity customers to test experiences in the comfort of their homes.

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Source: Erdly and Kesterson (Executive Summary, 2002, p.5)

Figure 2-4: Defining the experience from the customers perceptive Erdly and Kesterson (2002, p. 8) identify several actions that organisations must consider to prepare for an experience-based competitive landscape. The actions which are important for the purpose of this dissertation include: extend the experience (this was explained above), pay global attention (provide experiences in a manner that respects a guests country of origin and cultural nuances), uncover the unexpected (excite, delight and bring surprising pleasures by uncovering unexpected needs and desires), polish the guest experience managers. Those managers should both create a work environment that fosters dignity, pride and satisfaction and conduct training that builds a through knowledge of the product and service offerings and encourages the anticipation of guest needs (Erdly and Kesterson, 2002, p. 9). The actions of extending the experience and uncovering the unexpected will be also incorporated in the management strategy which will be evaluated in the empirical part. The global attention will be discussed when analysing the inquiries in the research part. Both of the paragraphs successes factors and experience rules dealt more with the product offered by theme parks and the ways to predict and satisfy customers

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needs. Now the imagineering will be presented as a starting point of creating durable emotional commitment not only of customers but also of employees.

II.4.3. Imagineering

Industry foresight must be informed by deep insights into trends in lifestyles, technology, demographics, and geopolitics, but foresight rests as much on imagination as prediction. To create a future a company must develop a powerful visual and verbal representation of what the future could be. To borrow from Walt Disney, what is required is Imagineering. Hamel and Prahalad (1996, p. 89) Imagineering is a term introduced for the first time by Walt Disney. When Disney World opened in 1971, the experts and the critics predicted that some day it may receive 6 million visitors annually. When it celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary, the resort attracted 30 million visitors a year. Much of that attendance resulted from adding experiences that the company dreamed up for an ever-changing world (OSullivan and Spangler, 1998, p.377). It turned to be that Disney is the most powerful engineer of experiences and imaginations. Imagineering is a term used to define a specific set of instruments applied in the world of theme parks to respond to the emotion demand. Imagineering means engineering for imagination and is the art of management to combine soul and professionalism into inspiring business operations. It is a marketing tool, since it can be used to achieve commercial and social objectives, but, on the other hand, it is not the customer here who represents the starting and end point, but a creative thought or a vision statement of the organisation (Nijs, 2003). It is a marketing tool, but the traditional marketing does not focus on the image and imaginative qualities a product may provide but instead, it concentrates on functional features and benefits of products. The art of imagineering means to touch the customers emotional side, emphasising on the cultural product instead of the material one and involving emotionally the customer. Imagineering refers to the work of a group of

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people a team, which is in charge of the creation, development and communication of all the elements of a theme park. This unique theme consists of illustrators, architects, designers, engineers, writers, artists, researchers, planners, sound technicians, scale-model builders, film producers, and depending on the nature of the project many others (Nijs, 2003, p. 25-26). Pine and Gilmore stated: (1999, p. 3) Where Disney used to be the only theme park proprietor, it now faces scores of competitors in every line of business, both traditional and experimental. Nowadays theme parks are facing fierce competition even from outside the tourism industry. This fact makes them change their product in order to keep their market share and competitive advantages. In 2005 Disneyland Paris re-launched one of its most popular attractions as a completely new experience. Is this the new key word experience? The general assumption which is made is that the focus, which used to be on the material in the old economy, has shifted to the immaterial, to the emotional, in the new economy. Therefore, the art of appealing to the imagination has become a management skill essential in every sector (Nijs, 2003). Value is created more and more in the emotional sphere. The trend is therefore obvious: value creation in society evolves from undifferentiated material to differentiated immaterial/ emotional. Everything becomes coloured by experience and emotion, and therefore these two elements make up the latest form of competition strategy for organisations (Nijs, 2003). Nijs (2003) introduces imagineering as an answer when companies try to differ from others. Although experiential marketing and imagineering are highly linked, they have some substantial differences. Experiential marketing uses experiences as a marketing tool for promotion. Imagineering is not only a marketing tool, it is the starting point for operating strategically and tactically by creating durable emotional commitment of employees and customers (Blaas, 2004).

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Implementing imagineering could be seen as a difficult process because there are no defined steps or formulas. Nijs and Peters (in Blaas, 2004) present an ABC model for implementing imagineering. In this model A stands for Analysing and Attention, B for Experiencing (Beleven in Dutch), Brood and Brainstorming and C for Creating a vision and concept. This model suggests that in the first phase the company thoroughly analyses the idea or problem which necessitated the concept development; then attention should be paid to the business environment and the competitors. The second phase suggests trying to put yourself in peoples thoughts, trying to understand them and to predict their demands and actions. Brainstorming is important for developing ideas and ways of solving the problems. The third phase is based on the first two and suggests the creation of a concept in which unique factors are linked to the product or company in order to give it a unique strength and charm which leaves the customer with a lasting impression. Disney also shares the opinion that discovering your own unique pathways to continued success is better than imitating others and adopting their strategies (Blass, 2004). Nijs and Peters (in Blaas, 2004, p. 24) state that an experience can become richer and more intense when a well defined theme is added; it creates a synergy-effect between different parts of the experience. Thus, is seems that there is a potential for theme parks by implementing imagineering to their strategies to rejuvenate their product and to become more appealing. The ABC model for implementing imagineering could be applied when an organisation realises that there is an existing problem and new differentiated product should be offered. This new product at the same time could be seen as part of the overall management strategy. The next paragraph will present a possible management strategy for theme parks, which implement the factors, actions and tools previously discussed.

II.4.4. Blue Ocean Strategy

The Blue Ocean Strategy is a corporate strategy presented by Professors from NASTEM Kim and Mauborgne in a book of the same name (2005). The strategy is

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based on the metaphor of the ocean which refers to the market or industry. According to the theory blue oceans are untapped and uncontested markets, which provide little or no competition for anyone who would dive in, since the markets are not crowded. A red ocean, on the other hand, refers to a saturated market where there is fierce competition, already crowded with companies providing the same type of services or producing the same kind of goods. The concept suggests producing something that no one has yet seen, thereby creating a blue ocean. An essential concept is that the innovation (in product, service, or delivery) must raise and create value for the market, while simultaneously reducing or eliminating features or services that are less valued by the current or future market. The bottom line in the book is to create new markets and woo new customers, rather than compete. Table 2-5 visually represents the differences between Red Ocean and Blue Ocean strategies. In blue oceans, demand is created rather than fought over. The authors (op. cit.) suggest two ways for the creation of blue oceans: to launch completely new industries or to create a blue ocean from within a red ocean when a company expands the boundaries of an existing industry.

Table 2-5: Main differences between Red ocean and Blue ocean strategies

Red Ocean and Blue Ocean strategies


Red Ocean Strategy
Compete in existing market space. Beat the competition. Exploit existing demand. Make the value/cost trade-off. Align the whole system of a companys activities with its strategic choice of differentiation or low cost.

Blue Ocean Strategy


Create uncontested market space. Make the competition irrelevant. Create and capture new demand. Break the value/cost trade-off. Align the whole system of a companys activities in pursuit of differentiation and low cost.

Source: http://www.valuebasedmanagement.net/methods_kim_blue_ocean_strategy.html, accessed on 15.07.2007

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Pollard (2005)10 claims that blue ocean strategy and its related ideas are descriptive rather than prescriptive. He sees as a disadvantage in this strategy that the authors leave out the most important part of the strategy the marketing which helps to keep and maintain the market shares even in a new business or industry. Without a marketing strategy, sure, you will create a blue ocean, but while youre out there, all by yourself in that open water, you wont be the market leader; youll be chum (Pollard in vSentes Blog11). In the academic literature various critiques of the blue ocean strategy can be found. The main discussions include whether something is an example of creation of a blue ocean or rather creation of new, compelling product for an existing market. The blue ocean strategy, however, gives the direction of looking across the traditional industry borders: Cirque du Soleil (it does not matter whether it is a blue ocean or a new product in a red ocean) for example, has created a new competitive ground, by combining elements of different experiences or industries. The thorough analysis of that theory once again suggests that there are changes in customer behaviour, there are new emerging values, and businesses should adopt new approaches in competition and management. In fact, business is moving away in strategy and the focus which used to be on how to win the battle (be better than others, benchmarking, etc.) moves more towards the consumer himself and by seeing the world more from his perspective, science witnesses uncommon, sometimes unexpected and innovative concepts. The important outcome is to benefit from those ideas. In the case of the blue ocean strategy the assumption of finding an option to escape from competitors could be very useful for theme parks operating in highly competitive environment. Creating a new blue ocean could result in finding a unique competitive advantage. Despite all the critiques of the blue ocean strategy its main ideas are highly applicable in the current economic situation. Technological advances have improved industrial productivity, trade barriers between nations and regions fall and information on products and prices becomes instantly and globally available, and
10

Wikipedia, Blue Ocean Strategy, available on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Ocean_Strategy , accessed on 15.07.2007 11 vSentes Blog, available on http://twoscenarios.typepad.com/maneuver_marketing_commun/blue_ocean_strategy/index.html, accessed on 15.07.2007

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niche markets and monopoly industries are continuing to disappear. At the same time, there is little evidence of any increase in demand, at least in the developed markets, where recent United Nations statistics even point to declining populations. The result is that in more and more industries, supply is overtaking demand. According to recent studies, major American brands in a variety of product and service categories have become more and more alike. And as brands become more similar, people increasingly base purchase choices on price and companies are driven to compete principally on cost. One result of this has been the process of exporting the production of goods to low cost countries like India and China. While governments may seek to solve the issue of outsourcing through legislation, it turns out not to be a long-term solution. The long-term solution to creating jobs is in companies creating compelling products and services that take them out of the vicious cycle of commodity competition. This means moving companies products and services from the red ocean to the blue ocean. These issues alone make blue ocean strategy a rising imperative for CEOs. Berman (2003) implies similar suggestion in his research. He introduces the approach of Scenario Envisioning. His theory has something in common with the blue ocean strategy because he states that executives practice operating and understanding their business in states that current rivals dont expect, making decisions today that will enhance their organisations chances of succeeding tomorrow (op. cit., p. 1). Scenario envisioning suggests the creation of a set of scenarios that enable management to experience the possible results of major shifts in the industry value chain when the industry borders are redefined under possible future competitive conditions. Here, it could be concluded that the essence of both approaches assumes that scenario envisioning could be the first step and after the economic potential is assessed and the optimal strategic option is developed, the company could decide what blue ocean to create. Scenario envisioning will be evaluated after the analysis of theme park industry and a discussion on customers and competitors of Action Aquapark in Bulgaria. Only after the next chapter, it would be possible to be stated the main problem of the water park

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and the possible management strategy will be investigated and applied in the empirical part of the dissertation.

II.5. Conclusion The obvious conclusion on this chapter is firstly, that the emergence of the experience economy is not a problem for companies, although opinions on the subject are quite controversial. Moreover, Florida (2002, p. 12) admits that the new economy did not cause changes, though it did help push them to surface and make them more noticeable. Secondly, what looks to be the biggest challenge is new consumers whose attention should be attracted. The discussion on the experience economy reveals that businesses are witnessing a fundamental shift in the way people value and allocate their time. The new type of consumer the experiencer (Berman, 2002, p. 2) is going from whats in this catalogue to what would I like to put in this catalogue? This change results in pressure between companies which constantly compete for customers attention by offering various kinds of experiences. Peoples need for experiences is already recognized and companies compete in offering them to customers. Consequently, theme parks should find new management strategies for maintaining the perception that they offer personal and engaging experiences by involvement and interactivity of their customers. For adopting an adequate strategy those attraction sites first of all should investigate their customers because in the experience economy customer perception will rule, and the customer attention will determine which businesses thrive or fail (Berman, 2002, p. 2). Each theme park should try to find a product which differs from others and the discussed approaches will be applied for finding the best possible strategy for a water park in Bulgaria in the empirical part of the dissertation.

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III. Theme/water parks industry


III.1. Theoretical framework of theme/water parks

Attractions are the raison dtre for tourism; they generate the visit, give rise to excursion circuits and create an industry of their own. Boniface and Cooper (in Fyall, et al., 2003, p.6) Visitor attractions undoubtedly play a substantial role in development and success of a tourism region. At their basic level they operate as generators of tourists in a destination, but also they could be seen as determining factors of change and growth of the social benefits and attracting significant revenues in a certain area. In the following paragraph, the theoretical framework of theme parks will be presented, their classifications, characteristics and development.

III.1.1. Definitions of theme/water parks

Attractions are broadly discussed in the literature. Perhaps, that is the reason why there is not universal definition for all kinds of attractions. The most quoted and frequently used definition for attractions is that of the English Tourism Council:

A permanently established excursion destination, a primary purpose of which is to allow public access for entertainment, interest or education; rather than being principally a retail outlet or venue for sporting, theatrical or film performances. It must be opened to the public without prior booking, for published periods each year, and should be capable of attracting tourists or day visitors as well as local residents. In addition, the attraction must be a single business, under a single management and must be receiving revenue directly from visitors. (in Fyall, et al., 2003, p.10)

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Attractions are separate places or clearly defined small geographical areas which are opened for visitors and act as motivators for people to travel the distance from their homes to the attraction, for a short or limited period, usually during the free time. All the definitions of attractions exclude uncontrollable or unmanageable phenomenon which sometimes are referred to as attractions, e.g. some climate or atmospheric conditions. According to definitions, attractions have boundaries and can be controlled and managed. In general, attractions are seen as part of the category entertaining places. In this grouping the biggest part is presented by theme parks. They represent also the highest percent of investments in the amusing industry. A popular definition of a theme park is that of the American Marriott Corporation: A family entertainment complex oriented towards a particular subject or historical area, combining the continuity of costuming and architecture with entertainment and merchandise to promote a fantasy provoking atmosphere. (Fyall, et al., 2003, p. 40). According to this definition it could be concluded that water parks are a type of theme parks, whose main theme is water in the costumes of the employees and the tourists and also in the exotic architecture pools, rivers, slides, ships, waterfalls, etc. In water parks the emphasis is on amusement, adrenalin and high speed, provided by numerous water attractions. Water parks (also called aqua parks) are entertainment parks catering for an emotional day, out of home. Bovy and Lawson (1998) present different classification of leisure parks in figure 3-1: Attraction parks Attraction parks Themed parks Safari parks

Themed parks

parks Leisure

Recreation and leisure Aquatic/water parks Recreation and sports Recreation parks Recreation and nature

Source: Bovy and Lawson (1998, p.96)

Figure 3-1: Classification of leisure parks

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In compliance with figure 3-1, water parks are a separate class of parks. Regardless of their categorisation as a type of a theme park or a type of the general leisure parks, it could be concluded that water parks are man-made attraction whose theme is water and their main purpose is to attract visitors and to cater to their needs. For the most adequate explanation of water parks, two definitions will be presented: Medlik (2003, p.179) describes it as a recreation area providing water sports, other water-based activities and such visual attractions as waterfalls, usually for the general public and on payment of an admission charge. According to Beaver (2002, p. 321-322) the use of the term water park varies: it may be a large water-sport complex, or a tourist attraction, such as a water-based theme park, or a combination of the two. Even though water parks are considered to be a type of a theme park, there can be distinguished some different features between theme and water parks in Europe. For the comparison will be used the characteristics pointed out by R. Davidson (1992, p. 76) - Location theme parks are usually built outside a town or city, i.e. in the vicinity of a large centre of population. Water parks are mainly developed near sun and sea resorts. - Type of visitors as a result of the first difference both parks have diverse visitors. Water parks directly gather the tourists already visiting the regions, on holiday. Day-trippers, as opposed to tourists, undoubtedly comprise the vast majority of most European theme parks clientele. - Theme most of the parks are developing a theme around which all the attractions are designed and situated in themed areas. These provide variety by giving visitors the impression that they pass through different lands, or worlds, or time periods. The main difference between both parks, in this case, is the theme that is chosen. In the water parks always the main theme is the water, i.e. most of the attractions are water-based. In the water parks the range of the attractions varies depending on the market segment they cater for and not on different themes. For instance, the themed areas in water parks are not different stories or lands but are

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areas for the children, for the brave, for relaxation, for the whole family, but the theme is always one and the same the water! - Pay-one-price admission since the parks are purpose-built attractions all of them charge admission fee on entry. This charge allows the tourists to use all the attractions without paying extra. Water parks which are situated mostly near sun and sea destinations offer not only the man-built attractions but also the enjoying of the nice weather and sunbathing. That is the reason why in the admission fee they include the usage of a sun-chair and sun-shade. Hence, in some cases water parks offer more value for money than theme parks. Parking is usually free as research has shown that visitors do not like to pay out twice before entering the park (Davidson, 1992, p. 76). - Physical size, created jobs, huge amount of initial investment considering these characteristics amusement parks as a whole differ significantly from the other attractions. However, analysing the differences between theme and water parks, the first are much bigger in most terms. Theme parks elsewhere in Europe generally occupy 150-200 hectares (the size of a small town), water parks are smaller mostly not more than 60 hectares which means that they also require less people for serving smaller territory. As far as the investments are concerned, the amount cannot be generalised. All of the discussed definitions of attractions and their characteristics show that they are an open system which will be subject of future expansion following the dynamic development of this sector of the tourism industry. Worldwide attendance at theme parks reached 756.5 million in 2005, generating US$22.4 billion in revenue (Haden, 2006). For the purpose of the dissertation water parks will be investigated as a kind of theme parks in the empirical part of this research. As a reason for the development of water parks it could be pointed out the tendency of worldwide increase in summer holidays which represent the biggest share of holiday travels. Water parks are the attractions which contribute also to the image of a certain destination with sun, sand and water. As an answer of the development and expanded distribution of water parks worldwide there are several associations serving the interests of that industry WWA, IAAPA, etc.

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III.1.2. Characteristics of water parks and their customers

Davidson (1992, p. 75) explains that most of the European theme parks were developed in the last 20 years. As major reasons he points out the spread of private car ownership and changing socio-economic conditions. The use of family cars resulted in expansion of the catchment area of theme parks which gave them the opportunity to be constructed on low-cost, out-of-town sites (op cit.). Distribution of theme and water parks in Western Europe is not equal (see the Appendix 2 and 3). Theme parks are mostly situated in Northern Europe (UK, Germany and Northern France), where in densely inhabited countries the most prosperous population of the continent live (op cit.), whereas water parks are located in Southern Europe (Portugal, Spain, Southern France and Italy). In the countries with warmer climate, water parks are sited in the open air and are used by the local people and the tourists during the summer season (four to six months). More often they are in proximity of a beach in seaside resorts as additional attractions. Jones and Robinett (1998, Online source) report that a greater use of water related activities, attractions and landscaping is occurring in theme park design, but future expansion will be limited by restrictions on capturing and will display aquatic mammals. The main elements of a water park include: shaped pools, wide range of water activities (pools, rivers, waterfalls, slides, islands); whirlpools; viewing areas; changing rooms, toilets, showers; bars and restaurants, etc. (Bovy and Lawson, 1998). There is much criticism of the artificiality of those facilities, although there is the counter opinion that those parks are an answer of the market forces and they preserve the natural resources. In reply of this dispute, Bovy and Lawson (1998, p. 101) suggest a comparison table (table 3-1) between traditional outdoor leisure and aquatic parks. The big complexes of this type undoubtedly are planned as a commercial investment and are highly dependable on the numbers of visitors. The attendance could be increased by proximity of a resort or a big hotel, but the seasonality should be also considered.

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Table 3-1: Comparison between traditional outdoor leisure and aquatic parks

Traditional outdoor leisure


Near nature, its fauna and flora Awareness of the seasons, of the weather Not expensive to develop and operate Cheap for users Without technical infrastructures Risk of erosion of natural resources
Source: Bovy and Lawson (1998, p. 101)

Aquatic parks
Totally artificial surroundings All year round controlled climate Heavy investment and operational costs Expensive for users High consumption of energy and water Visual intrusion in the landscape

In the process of planning of water parks, the following investigation should be taken into account: - Marketing research the size of the territory which will generate the tourists, demographic and socio-economic profile of tourists, competitors, expected number of visitors, factors which influence the future consumption. - Research on the localisation a place convenient for the tourists; environment; accessibility; infrastructure; ecological and socio-economic influence. - Surveying definition of alternatives for themes (shipwreck, fairytales elements, animals, etc.); requirements for the facilities; cost distribution (investment and operational); contracts for financing. - Physical planning movement, circulation and management of tourist flow during the peak hours including additional attractions and show programmes. The financial, physical and design planning are not a question under investigation in the dissertation. That is why the analysis will follow with one of the most important issues the customers whose preferences and motives are changing in the experience economy, as explained before.

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There is a close relation between the number of visitors and the residents in the catchment area. Visitors to water parks are mainly town dwellers, couples, friends, parties and families with young (3-15-year-old) children (Bovy and Lawson, 1998). They could be segmented into three main markets: - Permanent residential market: inhabitants of the catchment area who would be attracted mostly once a year; - Temporary residential market: second-home owners, they are holidaymakers in the catchment area, but they would not be attracted to visit a park often during their holiday; - Tourist market: tourists who spend their holiday in the nearby resorts. According to this segmentation water parks mostly rely on the tourist market because tourists change approximately every week, they spend money on entertainment and they are easily convinced by tour operators, travel agents or advertisements to visit the park. However, each water park has its specific target group which could be classified in accordance with the following main elements: - age; - family status a child, young non-married person, young family, young family with children, elder family; - social affiliation; - place of living; - excursionist or tourist; - individual or group visitor. Those classifications will be used in the practical research of the customers of Action Aquapark. However, before narrowing the analysis from the Bulgarian perspective, the worldwide approaches to theme parks will be discussed.

III.2. Current management approaches to theme parks The approach and the conception of theme parks around the world differ according to the culture and lifestyle of their customers. Haden (2006) claims that the US market

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is mature and at present, most major US operators have not planed to construct new parks but rather to expand existing parks, as well as to renew and introduce new rides and attractions. On the contrary, the Asia-Pacific region is the fastest growing theme park market, growing at a pace of around one and a half times that of the world average achieved over the period 2000-2005 (op cit.). Making an overview of the favourable leisure rends in Europe, Davidson (1992) stated that Western Europeans tend to have four to six weeks holiday per year which is greater than the American average of two to three weeks. Fifty-six percent of Western Europeans take at least one holiday per year, with 34 percent of these taking two or more. In Europe, the short-break and weekend markets are very active, as the available leisure time increases. This leads to the conclusion that when Americans go on a holiday, they stay longer and have more disposable income. For Disney World in Florida, Bryman (1995, p. 67) said: The idea here was not a single theme park but a total holiday destination as it comprises three main theme parks, two water theme parks and two minor theme parks. Moreover, there are several hotels, restaurants and other additional attractions. Most of the American theme parks are designed to attract people who will stay for a week or even longer. However, in recent years the American pattern of travelling also is changing. With more disposable income but overworked, Americans are looking for vacations that can pack a weeks worth of fun into just a few days (Mill and Morrison, 2002, p. 252). In comparison to the American customers, Europeans are more varied, showing characteristic differences from nation to nation. In the not so big continent, there are many countries. People can easily travel from country to country for a day. Theme parks in Europe are mostly day-trip attractions. Stevens (2000, p. 72) warns that the day-trip market has already been confronted with variety of alternatives and choices and hence a visit to a stand-alone attraction is becoming less important and, more significantly, less relevant to the needs and the demands of the consumer. For example, the biggest theme park in Europe is Disneyland Resort Paris or Euro Disney. Disney Corporation followed the example from the USA and developed more than 13 hotels inside and in the surroundings of the park. But the brochure of

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the park is offering a package of mostly four nights which reflects the result of an investigation that people will not consider staying longer (not to speak for seven or more days). As a result, critics say that the attempt to implement an American park like Euro Disney without any adaptations to the very peculiar European nationalities could end in a failure. Another example for the different perceptions between both of the continents is the American company which is operating Six flags theme parks. At the end of the 1990s it bought the biggest percentage of the shares of the Belgian firm operating the Walibi parks which came under the name of Six Flags. A decade later, in 2004, the parks were converted again into Walibi. In a personal interview with the communication manager of Walibi World (in Holland) Miss Alice Kroeze to the question Why did you change the name again?, she simply answered: They did not understand the European market. Haden (2006) also supports the opinion by stating that Six Flags expansion plans in Europe failed, due to poor management as well as a lack of understanding about European consumer markets. Now the company has devised a back-to-basics approach, intending to expand its appeal beyond the traditional market of teenagers and young adults by shifting away heavy investment on thrill rides, and instead, putting money into rides for all ages. Plans are also underway to transform Six Flags theme parks into more family-friendly attractions (op cit.). Haden (2006) reports that despite the optimism for US theme park operators who ventured into Europe during the late 1980s and early 1990s, a lack of understanding of European consumer dynamics, and cultural differences, led to operational and financial difficulties. The Euro-centric management and marketing policies did not result in higher demand and the market is still determined by uncertainty, particularly within key markets including the UK, Germany and France, where environmental factors, such as consumer confidence, domestic tourism trends and a lack of leisure time and expenditure, have been undermining theme park attendance growth (op cit.).

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American theme parks are targeted specially at teenagers and young adults, focusing their marketing strategies primarily on promoting new rides, parades, celebrations and ticket deals. European theme parks are attuned to attract families and cater mainly to children. They apply ethnocentric marketing approaches, aiming the local or indigenous population, as well as regional visitors. As part of the marketing strategies for boosting attendance and sales, theme parks on both of the continents use the co-branding with major retailers and manufacturers. For example, Leisure Opportunities Magazine (2004), reports that Disneyland Paris and Kelloggs have teamed up. The breakfast cereal producer distributes free vouchers for holidays in its packages with cornflakes. However, even within Europe, where there are currently approximately 300 theme parks (Haden, 2006), attendance of the parks varies in the different countries. A comparable index is presented by David Camp (1997) (Director of Economics Research Associates). It is called theme park visitation per head of population. For the USA this index is 0.80. The European average figure is 0.25. For Denmark, it is 0.70, whilst for France it is only 0.32. Ryan and Page (2000, p. 227) introduced similar numbers which vary from 0.60 in the USA and Japan, to 0.50 in Australia, to 0.23 in Europe. These indicators reveal the unequal distribution of theme parks visitors in the different continents and also throughout Europe. Those statistics also illustrate the global impact of theme parks, which have attracted a great deal of debate among researchers on their wider significance to contemporary society. The figures published in the web page of Euro Disney do not show a very optimistic trend in the number of visitors. Till 2002 the attendance of the park was increasing (2000 12 million, 2001 12.2 million, 2002 13.1 million). Then, in 2003 the number of visitors declined to 12.4 and for 2004 it remained the same. One of the simple and general explanations (which was often used in that period) was that there was a downturn in the whole tourism industry primarily due to the attacks from 11th September, 2001. But more than 55% of the visitors in the Parisian theme park were travelling by cars and only 15% by planes in 2005 (see Appendix 4). Those changes in the tourism industry as a whole and particularly in the theme parks industry could

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be explained partly with the evolution in the psychology of the customers in the experience economy context. This assumption is supported also by the fact that after Euro Disney re-launched one of its most popular attractions as a completely new experience in 2005 the trends from the statistics seemed to have changed (see Appendix 5). In 2006 attendance grew to 12.8 million and the revenue increased from 1,040.6 million euro in 2005 to 1,087.7 million euro in 2006. According to company sources Disneyland Paris, which has been operating at a net loss since it opened in 1992, is, on the verge of becoming profitable. A total of US$308 million will be spent on improvements at Disneyland Paris over the period 2005-08, including one new ride each year (Haden, 2006). Another recent example of adding experiences concerns the world famous Eiffel Tower in Paris. This summer a pool with waterproof photos of fluorescent fish at the bottom was placed under the Tower, between its four legs. It offers scuba diving lessons and three winters ago there was an ice-skating rink installed there. Despite its popularity, the managers are looking for different options to attract people who have already visited the symbol of Paris. Bos (2004) claims, that the more experienced tourists will in the future favour greater authenticity, with reference to emotional satisfaction and the need to personalise. He adds that artificial supply that does not distinguish itself from others (e.g. theme parks) will decrease in importance if it does not meet higher standards. Lawson (in Theobald, 2005, p. 45) remarks that the significant success of Disney corporation is based on the very simple idea that adults wish above all else to re-attain the happiness which they had or, more poignantly, wish that they had had as children. The higher standards which Bos mentioned mean not quality but answering to the higher needs of the customers. And the customers want new attractions and new experiences. That is proven by an interview held in December 2001 which was investigating British consumers attitudes towards attractions (Mintel, March 2002, p.40). Seventeen percent of all the respondents (2,068 adults) answered that they would only visit an attraction more than once if there was something new. Twenty one percent of

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those who visited attractions in last 12 months would need a new exhibit or ride to justify revisiting an attraction. Taking into consideration the design of theme parks, Haden (2006) notices that there has been a shift in emphasis towards building experiential rides that stimulate the senses. Eddie Sotto (a designer in Walt Disney Company, interview, Online source) explains that kids are already bored by rides which do not offer interaction. He thinks that video games are the next story medium and claims that the most important aspect of the design is the emotional show and story that is being told. However, in their search for new adventures, theme parks begin to exceed the normal human boundaries. Japan, for example, boasts the highest roller-coaster, the Fujiyama, at 259 feet, but the search for ever more gravity-defying rides has reached a point where the human body is now being subjected to dangerous levels of acceleration, and engineers believe nothing higher than 300 feet is feasible (Holloway, 2002, p. 202). Davidson (1992, p. 80) suggests that the most successfully designed parks are those which immediately delight visitors by offering the feeling that, on entering the park, they have moved into a different, better world, with its own rules and logic. The key factor is in precise planning and design of the park. He adds (op cit.), the real world must be firmly left outside. It could be concluded that the best strategy for theme park design is to find the right balance between high-thrills, high-tech and high-impact emotional content. However, as has been highlighted several times, design and management approaches differ in each continent and even in each country in Europe. But all the discussions presented here have concerned mainly America and Western Europe. The author has decided to present them in order to be able to throw further light on the different situation in Eastern Europe. In the next paragraph where Action Aquapark will be presented, it will be illustrated that the Eastern and particularly Bulgarian perspective are quite different.

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III.3. The Bulgarian perspective Action Aquapark Mintel (February 2002, p. 12) predicts that the Eastern Bloc will focus on infrastructure development and consolidation of the cultural and heritage products rather than on capital investment in non-traditional attractions. Further on the report concludes that the least optimistic forecasts for investment are for Bulgaria, Slovenia and Slovakia (op cit., p. 20). Haden (2006, p. 15) is of the opposite opinion discussing the forecasts of PricewaterhouseCoopers which predict that theme park sales in EMEA are expected to climb by 27.5% for the period 2004-2009, with growth stemming mainly from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Indeed, all the countries from the Eastern Bloc suffer from the insufficiently developed infrastructure and do not have enough budget for investing in attractions. However, the private sector realised the gap in the amusement industry and developed various sites for entertainment, but of course not of the scale displayed in Western Europe. For example, in Bulgaria for a period of four years five water parks were opened. With a population of about 7 million people, these developments do not seem very feasible. The subject of investigation in this dissertation is one of the first water parks in Bulgaria which opened its doors in the summer of 2003 Action Aquapark.

III.3.1. History and background

Action Aquapark is situated in Sunny Beach resort. This destination has become very popular among tourists the last decade primarily due to rapid development in hotels, restaurants and construction of second homes. Sunny Beach and the nearby towns offer altogether about 80,000 hotel beds and many foreigners have bought their second homes there. There was an obvious lack of an attraction of that kind. After seven months of construction works Action Aquapark was opened to the public in July, 2003. At that time there were no water parks in Bulgaria and the only possibility for managers was to consult foreign experience. For that reason a leading Spanish company in constructing water parks Action Park Multiforma Grupo was selected and all the facilities were developed in conformance with the Western European

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standards. Additionally, Sim Leisure Consultants from Malaysia were hired to advise the management team of the park during its opening. Action Aquapark is privately owned by a Bulgarian company. It is not large compared to the Western European water parks, occupying a territory of 30 hectares and offering 12 different slides, a wave pool, a river, childrens pool and garden, restaurants and bars (see Appendix 6). All these attractions are designed to cater to various tastes of customers from all ages and nationalities. As Swarbrooke (2002, p.139) reports one of the most important factors for the professional management approach is appreciating that there is not one big public but lots of different market segments with different needs and desires.

III.3.2. Customers of Action Aquapark

Action Aquaparks target market is divided into three main groups. The first and most important group consists of international tourists who spend their holiday in Sunny Beach and the nearby resorts (Nesebar, Vlas, Obzor, Pomorie). The second group is the temporary residential market. The third is the local population from the towns in the catchment area (mainly Nesbar, Pomorie and Bourgas). The third group is very different from the other two as the survey will show. The international tourists and the temporal residents are more alike because they are mainly British, the major tourist market at the Bulgarian seaside. For more clear analysis of the customers, the major determinants of new consumer behaviour presented by Pikkemaat and Schuckert (2004, p. 2) in table 2-2, will be used for comparison. Western Europeans tend to be more patriotic and despite the globalising world they try to preserve their own cultures. The Bulgarians are the opposite. After all the reforms in the last 15 years and additionally the acceptance of Bulgaria in the European Union, people here are keener on the Western cultures and their products. They even sometimes ridiculously deny their own culture. For example, in the centre

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of Sofia (the capital of Bulgaria) there was a mausoleum of Georgi Dimitrov (the first communist leader) which was built in 1949. For its 50 years of existence it became the symbol of indestructible dream. It was a world-famous attraction representing a long period of the Bulgarian history. However, the government decided that it was a monument representing the repressive and inhumane communist past and in 1999 that historical symbol was destroyed. Trying to follow the Western pattern of living, Bulgarians consider even a water park as Western or American type of attraction. Another factor - the personification of holidays is also different in the West and in the East. It is available mainly due to internet possibilities. But a recent study by the European Commission (published in a Bulgarian newspaper 24 Hours, August, 2007) reports that 69 percent from the questioned Bulgarians have never used the internet, and the average percent for the EU is 47. Bulgarians are not showing very individualistic behaviour and control over their decisions for their holidays. In this regard, a very important factor is also the travel experience. Western European countries are the generators of tourists worldwide. This means that those customers have travelled a lot and have previous experiences of this kind of attraction and hence, their expectations are much higher. Bulgarians, on the contrary, did not travel a lot especially abroad. This trend has been changing since the fall of the Iron Curtain, the Schengen contract and the acceptance of Bulgaria in the EU. However, people still do not have enough free time and disposable income for short-haul holidays. Usually, they have one two-week holiday during the summer. Even then Bulgarians prefer to go to the Southern seaside resorts because Sunny Beach still remains an expensive resort for the average population. A study conducted by a specialised research company in 2006 (see Appendix 7) proves the conclusions from the previous paragraph. From 1,000 Bulgarian respondents 75.10 percent did not visit the Black Sea resorts in 2005 and 2006. From the other 24.90 percent of the respondents only 20.60 percent have visited Action Aquapark. As main reasons stated for not visiting the park 20.20 percent were on a holiday in another resort; 10.80 percent considered the water park to be very expensive and the other 7.80 percent admitted that they had no time. The respondents living in the catchment area point as main reason for not visiting the park that it is an

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expensive place for them. The study adds information on the profile of the tourists, reporting that visitors aged up to 25 years with higher income are the main market who visits the park remarking that the percent that they represent 27.50 is much higher than the average. Repeat customers are a must for such attractions (Braun and Milman, 1994). Sunny Beach is a destination where the tourists have been several times and they are used to come here. That is why it is of crucial importance for the managers of the park to be able to attract repeat visitors. On the one hand, some of the residents from the catchment area have already visited the park. On the other hand, the foreign tourists have visited Sunny Beach several times. Due to that reason Action Aquapark aims mainly to attract repeat visitors. The question is how the customers can be attracted again. Haden (2006) suggests that repeat potential guests could be attracted by providing the information that the park is new and improved. For this strategy to be effective, water parks should aim at designing and constructing new and more exciting rides and attractions (op cit.). As stated above Haden (2006 p. 5) also supports the opinion that US companies expanded into Europe without any due consideration for cultural differences, which had a disastrous effect. In the empirical part of the research the investigation of the customers will be correlated with their nationality in order to draw conclusions on the cultural differences and hence the different management approaches necessary. Haden (2006 p. 20) gives a hint that for the success of theme parks, they have to listen not only to consumer wants and needs, but to highlight the idea that they are places offering extraordinary and memorable experiences for all ages. This calls for a carefully coordinated and balanced combination of sophisticated, high-quality entertainment, rides, catering and facilities. After the success of Action Aquapark in the first 3 years of its operation, many other parks of that kind have been constructed over the last two years. The next paragraph will discuss the main competitors of the investigated water park.

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III.3.3. Competitors of Action Aquapark

Today there are five water parks in Bulgaria, four of which are at the 300km long coast line. The main competitor appears to be the newly built water park (Aqua Paradise) which is about 10km south of Action Aquapark. In the summer of 2006 the new park was closed for ten days in August due to legislative problems. During this period Action Aquaparks attendance grew to over 3,000 people per day. That was a maximum that had never previously been reached. The conclusions of the managers were: firstly, the marketing policies of both of the parks together contributed to the increase of the popularity of the attraction sites; secondly, people who went to the new park during that summer were potential repeat visitors to Action Aquapark but they chose to visit a new park rather than a park that they had been to before. The general assumption is that situated in Sunny Beach where the majority of tourists are staying, Action Aquapark should offer something that the other park does not have in order to keep its competitive advantage. The indirect competitors could be considered among other excursions and attractions that tour operators offer to their customers. They consist of: - visit to the old town of Nessebar which is declared a UNESCO monument; - visit to a typical Bulgarian village; - mountain safari; - an excursion to Istanbul. As it can be seen only the water park offers a mixture of full day of sunbathing, emotions and thrills. Here it could be concluded that the main competitor remains the other park as well as the beach which is the prime reason for the holiday. The crucial question before the management of Action Aquapark is what do the others not offer which could be offered here?

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III.4. Main problems of Action Aquapark Action Aquapark confronts several challenges in its attempts to attract visitors. On the one hand, customers needs are changing in the experience economy context. On the other hand, the existence of another water park in close proximity creates a new competitive situation. Moreover, for its four years of operating the water park have not been introducing any new experiences for its customers. The managers have to consider something new which could appeal to the Western tourists who have rich experiences and at the same time attract the local population for repeat visits. Pikkemaat & Schuckert (2004, p. 7) suggest that instead of constant investment in new attractions, it is more appropriate to support attraction management strategies which address both, tourists and locals. Haden (2006, p.1) adds that developing new rides and facilities only has a short-term uplifting effect on attendance and sales. In the experience economy theme parks need to connect with their guests emotionally, and evoke positive connotations (op cit.). The analysis of Action Aquapark shows that the attraction site needs a new management strategy in order to be able to operate feasibly and to remain the major attraction in Sunny Beach. The discussed current management approaches demonstrate that one of the most important things remaining is to consider the national characteristics. As can be seen, most of the parks abroad concentrate on adding new experiences and emotions by introducing new rides and attractions. In the Bulgarian situation it is very difficult because the new hi-tech innovations are very expensive. The Bulgarian water parks would not succeed in re-paying such an investment firstly, because of more limited budget and secondly, because the parks work only during the summer season. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that the entrance fees of the parks are much lower than elsewhere in Europe because the admission fees are in accordance with the lower salaries and prices in Bulgaria. One thing becomes obvious Action Aquapark needs a new management strategy. The author considers The Blue Ocean Strategy is very applicable to the current situation. Some scholars regard it as theoretical but from the analysed approaches

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some practical directions could be implemented. The scenario envisioning was suggested to be the first step. In Bulgaria the situation is more predictable because all the parks and attractions are owned by Bulgarian companies and all of them have more scarce financial resources. However, the scenario envisioning could be partly applied when the management of Action Aquapark is deciding its new management strategy. Then managers could envisage what will be the counter reaction of the competitors. The other park does not operate very well due to marketing or management gaps and it could be predicted that it will not undertake new experience developments in the near future primarily due to financial reasons. Action Aquapark is looking for something unique. Kim and Mauborgne (2005) and Destot (2000) claim that what is important is to do what the others do not offer; to introduce unique product against competitors. The author suggests that managers of Action Aquapark can create a blue ocean from within a red ocean, meaning that the company have to expand the boundaries of the existing industry. More concretely the action which should be considered as the experience rules involve is extension of the experiences. According to the success factors of Pikkemaat & Schuckert (2004) a product which implies impressions and emotions, involvement and interactivity should be introduced which will contribute to a new branding of the park.

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IV. Methodology
IV.1. Introduction Adapting the blue ocean strategy, the primary research will concentrate on finding a management strategy for Action Aquapark to expand the boundaries of the existing industry by finding a unique product which implements new experiences, impressions and emotions, involvement and interactivity. This chapter will present the methodology used for the research of the stated issues and the limitations and problems encountered.

IV.2. Aim and objectives of research After the extensive literature review a more precise aim and more focused objectives are formulated. The aim of the primary research is: to discuss and evaluate the adoption and practical implementation of the Blue Ocean Strategy as a management strategy for Action Aquapark to overcome the current challenges of the competitors and the changing consumer behaviour and at the same time to be able to attract repeat visitors. This aim can be achieved by accomplishing the following objectives: 1) Investigate and analyse the approaches of four leading Portuguese water parks. 2) Determine the profile of Action Aquaparks customers. 3) Identify customers determining factors of satisfaction, preferences, post purchase behaviour and likelihood for future visit to Action Aquapark. 4) Access and apply the preferences of customers, uncovering an unexpected product in the practical adoption of the Blue Ocean Strategy. 5) Implement the Blue Ocean Strategy in Action Aquapark using the ABC model.

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IV.3. Primary and secondary research There are two main approaches to gathering information. Primary data collection is necessary when the researcher cannot find the data needed in secondary sources and has to collect it himself. It is called primary research because it provides first-hand information (Blaas, 2004). Secondary data has already been collected by someone else for a different purpose and can be re-used by another researcher. For this specific research both methods are used.

IV.3.1. Primary research approach

Primary data is usually either quantitative or qualitative. The first data implies statistical analysis based on numerical evidence. In the quantitative research, it is often required approach of a large number of people, usually by questionnaires, surveys, observations or experiments. The latter data does not generally imply numbers and figures. It involves gathering a huge amount of information about a small number of people by observations, interviews, focus groups, etc.

IV.3.1.1. Quantitative primary research

The quantitative primary research of the dissertation includes questionnaires. They were chosen as a main tool for collecting data mainly because the research aims at gathering many and various opinions of Action Aquaparks customers. The questionnaire is structured in four main parts and consists of introduction and 19 questions (see Appendix 8). The first section deals with the demographic profile of the respondents (age, sex, education, nationality, family status). The second part asks general holiday behaviour questions concerning the period of stay in Bulgaria and activities during the holiday. In the third section, respondents share their opinion on their perception of a water park and their past experience in that type of attractions. The fourth part inquires about potential future visits of respondents, their recommendations and perceptions of Action Aquapark. The questionnaires last

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question is open-ended in order to receive an unlimited number of possible answers and richness of details. The questionnaires were translated in five languages: Bulgarian, English, German, Russian and Serbian. Those languages cover most of the nationalities which visit Action Aquapark. The inquiries were distributed from 15th of August till 1st of September 2006. During this period the attendance of the parks is in its peak and tourists from various nationalities are visiting Sunny Beach. In the period of the research a total of 13,628 people had visited the water park. A sample of 1,340 visitors had been chosen which represented 9.83 percent of all the tourists. Response rate was surprising even for the author 1,128 completed questionnaires were collected back, a response rate at 84.18 percent. The inquiries were distributed among all the tourists who were relaxing on their sun chairs in the morning, at noon and in the afternoon. The three-times a day method of distribution enables fuller coverage of visitors because some people come early in the morning and some, taking the advantage of half-day price, come in the early afternoon. Respondents were asked to fill in also their childrens (if any) opinion. That is why in some questionnaires there is more than one answer and the total percent of answers is more than 100%. Two limitations of the questionnaires were considered. The author had chosen five languages for this research. However, even though the English language is used by most nationalities, there were a few tourists who did not speak any of those languages. Hence, they were not included in the sample. The second obstacle is the way the questionnaire was distributed. The author approached people who were relaxing on their sun chairs. Visitors who were spending their time only on the slides or in the restaurants were not approached. However, many of the completed inquiries were returned in the restaurants. An additional suggestion can be made, that at least one member of a family was sitting on a sun chair to keep the belongings and if this assumption is correct the author had reached at least one member of a family or a group.

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The findings that resulted from the quantitative research the questionnaire have been analysed by SPSS, a computer program used for statistical analysis. After an examination of the answers of each question separately, I have made a correlation between the following four questions and the personal characteristics: sex, nationality and age. 1) The first correlation studies whether the motives for a visit to a water park are different for the diverse profile of the tourists, mainly depending on their nationality. 2) Another question that investigates different answers correlated with the three factors deals with the alternatives for spending the free time while on a holiday in Sunny Beach. This will help in determining the direct and indirect competitors of Action Aquapark. 3) The third issue of discussion is what different visitors associate a water park with. The aim of this correlation is to investigate their perceptions of this attraction. Whether it is relatively competitive in the experience economy context. Whether it is still related with emotions, thrills and fun or rather seen only as a place for children. 4) The last correlation aims at studying Action Aquaparks competitive advantages. The tourists were asked to point out their reasons for choosing to visit Action Aquapark. The dependent variable framework used to develop and compare the profiles of the functional segments was chosen because it either would seem to contribute to a managers understanding of the product or which conceivably could be influenced by the manipulation of the marketing mix. The descriptor variables were selected on the basis of managerial relevance, as suggested by the tourism literature. The analysis of the questionnaire will help to identify the attributes of Action Aquapark that have to be promoted (Kozak in Bansal and Eiselt, 2003, p. 388). The suggested correlations will demonstrate one of the most important issues that influence tourism marketing, that international tourists show distinct patterns of preference and motives when they travel (Hu, 1996; Kau, 1993). As suggested in the literature review the main issues of investigating in the questionnaire include: fulfilling the expectations and the likelihood of future visit and

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positive word-of-mouth (recommendations), customer loyalty, perceived image benefit, characteristics of tourists. In accordance with table 2-3 the findings will analyse the elements of advertisement, source of information, level of satisfaction, tour operator recommendations, socio-economic status, estimation of alternatives, past experience and attractiveness. The results will provide information whether the customers have changed in the context of the experience economy.

IV.3.1.2. Qualitative primary research

In the qualitative primary research I use expert opinions collected from four water parks managers questioned in the Algarve, Portugal (see Appendix 9,10, 11, and 12) and one in Action Aquapark, Bulgaria (see Appendix 13). The interviews as a tool of collecting data were chosen for obtaining in-depth understanding of management practices in the industry. The questions were considered in advance and an appointment was made with each of the managers. The interviewer was prepared to be flexible in the order of questions and in the development of interviewees ideas. Moreover, I encouraged respondents to talk and explain their ideas. Each of the interviews took approximately one hour. Water parks managers from two different countries were chosen. Portugal and Bulgaria are two European countries with not very high living standards even though the latter is less developed. Portugal has already been part of the water park industry for more than 20 years and Bulgaria has just started to develop it. A comparison will be interesting primarily due to analysis of old versus new managerial practices. Additionally, the interview with Action Aquaparks marketing manager outlined the main problems the park encounters. The main limitation of the interviews was seen in the highly competitive environment among parks in the Algarve. The Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal and one of Europes holiday destinations well known for warm climate throughout the year and sandy beaches. The length of the south-facing coastline is approximately 155 kilometers, and contains four large water parks. Managers who

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wished not to share parks details may be afraid of information reaching their competitors. Asked for the number of visitors, they exaggerated the figures. The only parks manager who was completely open and helpful was Paulo Severino, Aqua Shows manager. He consulted with the companys reports and gave exact numbers on the questions. However, the first interview was with him and the pleasant conversation biased the author in the next interviews where comparable positive attitude was not felt. The interview in Action Aquapark can be considered as the most reliable because the author worked as Key Account Manager there and had personal access to numbers and knowledge of polices and strategies. The interviews in Portugal were carried out in the second half of May, 2005. The interview in Bulgaria was held in July, 2006. The years that have passed gave the opportunity to discuss whether the intentions of the managers had been fulfilled and whether they had resulted in new management strategies.

IV.3.2. Secondary research approach

Secondary information has been collected and is presented in chapters two and three, which form the literature review. This analysis shows the relation of the research aim with previous investigations and studies. Findings from other research serve as a basis for deciding what is worth investigating and how it needs to be investigated (Denscombe in Blaas, 2004, p. 53). Secondary sources for the dissertation were books, articles, journals, magazines, internet articles and other secondary research of Bulgarian and foreign authors in the field of the attraction industry. Furthermore, Action Aquaparks survey made by a specialised research company was used. Additionally, information published by theme and water parks was analysed. All these sources formed an analytical frame of literature regarding the changing needs, preferences and motives of customers which should lead to new management strategies in the attraction industry.

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V. Main findings of research


V.1. Introduction This chapter discusses the findings of the primary research. It starts by presenting data collected by the quantitative research the questionnaires distributed amongst visitors of Action Aquapark. Then findings continue with analysis of the qualitative interviews with water parks managers. The results combined with the secondary research presented in chapters two and three will contribute to the interpretations, possible actions, conclusions and recommendations of this research included in the last chapter.

V.2. Findings through questionnaires Quantitative findings are arranged in four paragraphs. A graph and a table with data, relevant to the overall research are presented in this chapter. Tables with figures discussed in the text and results which are not strictly relevant to the study are provided in Appendix 14.

V.2.1. Demographic profile

The profile of respondents shows a mix of men (40%) and women (60%) across all age groups 28% were between 18-25 years and 50% between 26-45 years. Over 63% of the households reported no children under 12 years of age and 33% of the respondents had one or two children under 12 years of age. Concerning the nationality of the sample there were 28 cases missing. The majority of the interviewed tourists appeared to be British (over 38%), followed by Bulgarians (17%), Scandinavians (8%) and Germans (8%). Scandinavians are cumulative determinant which includes Danish, Finnish, Swedish and Norwegians.

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V.2.2. Holiday patterns of behaviour

The next group of questions investigated the holiday patterns of the respondents. Tourists were visiting Action Aquapark either at the beginning of their holiday (between the first and the third day of their arrival 31%) or at the end of their stay (between 7th-10th day 29% and between 11th-15th day 20%). Most of the customers of the water park came with their family (64%) or with friends (22%). While on a holiday respondents mostly prefer to go to the beach (49%) and in the evenings to bars and discos crawl (22%). Only afterwards they visit historical and cultural places of interest (20%).

V.2.3.Perception of a water park and past experience

Water parks are a well-known type of attraction for most people. A total of 75% of the respondents had visited an aqua park before, mostly in Spain (34%), America (17%) and Sunny Beach (12%). However, the percentage of Action Aquaparks repeat visitors is low 17%, and 80% of them are visiting the park for second or third time. There were still keener visitors who were coming for the fourth to sixth time (13%). As a main reason for visiting Action Aquapark, 54% of customers report that they like this type of attraction. However, one third of the tourists came because of their children. The answers to this question show that only 8% of the respondents are bored of the beach and as a result had decided to go to the park. The sixth question of the questionnaire is open and suggests that respondents list the factors which contribute to a nice and happy day in a water park. Figure 5-1 in the next page demonstrates all the possible answers given. The most important factor is the weather (28%) because usually water parks are open-air. The second most important factor is the variety of attractions (26%) and the third is the nice atmosphere (22%) which implies the design of the park. More than half of respondents (59%) associated a water park with a place full of emotions, fun and entertainment, additionally a place for amusement with friends

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was considered by 37%. On third place, 36% of the respondents thought of a water park as a place for children.
Important factors influencing a nice and a happy day in a water park

2% 1% 0%5% 6% 2%

0% 0% 3%1% 1%

17%

9% 1% 10% 2% 7% 14% 3%

17%

Many attractions nice food good services/nice organization safety happy children cleanliness nice attractions Not overcrowded Everything Relax

Nice weather nice atmosphere cost visit all attractions music don't know Warm water Nice company Happy hour Other

Source: personal questionnaires

Figure 5-1: Important factors influencing a nice and a happy day in a water park

V.2.4.Customers perception of Action Aquapark

The name of the park is chosen properly because when people hear of Action Aquapark for the first time they think of fun in the water (43%). Another 20% associate the name with water action. Most of the respondents had heard of the water park from brochures (37%) and decided to visit it because they liked the image of the park in the brochures (28%). However, the most important reason for visiting the attraction remains its situation in Sunny Beach (56%) and the ease of access (33%). The tour operators and travel agencies remain the second most important channel providing information about the park (31%).

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A very high percentage of the respondents (86%) felt that Action Aquapark had fulfilled their expectations. Half of the other 14%, reported that they had larger expectations. Another 24% were disappointed with the size of the water park. The likelihood of a future visit presented in table 5-1 depends primarily on the launching of a new attraction (62%) and on lower prices (40%). An additional 12% would like to find an educational attraction (museum, animals or exhibition) in Action Aquapark.

Table 5-1: Factors influencing a future visit to Action Aquapark


Responses N 426 132 651 127 Percent 29,0% 9,0% 44,4% 8,7% Percent of Cases N 40,3% 12,5% 61,5% 12,0%

Valid

Lower price Higher quality of service New attraction An educational attraction (small museum, animals show or exhibition) Other new experience

131 Total 1467

8,9% 100,0%

12,4% 138,7%

Source: personal questionnaires

Most of the respondents rated their experience in the Aquapark on a four-score basis as good or excellent (91%). Even more people evaluated their experience on the rides as good or excellent a total of 93%. As a result of tourists satisfaction, 94% of the respondents were going to recommend the water park to their friends. The other 6% were dissatisfied because they had larger expectations (43%), the water was cold (17%) and service was bad (14%). When asked for their suggestions and recommendations 36% of the respondents pointed out that there should be more attractions. Better services were suggested by 13% and 7% insisted on safer environment.

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V.2.5. Correlation analysis

Some of the findings of four of the questions were correlated with the personal characteristics of respondents: sex, nationality and age. The aim of this analysis is to outline possible variations of answers from different segments of visitors. Four questions were considered for their importance to the research, investigating motives, alternatives for spending the holiday time, perceptions of customers and the competitive advantages of Action Aquapark. The main motive for visiting a water park for men and women does not show any significant difference. They both stated mostly that they liked these type of attractions. However, there is a diversity in the answers to the same question between the two most presented nationalities of respondents British and Bulgarians. The British go to a water park mainly because of the children (55%) and because they like these type of attractions (55%). Bulgarians like aqua parks as well (47%), but they are attracted mainly of the possibility to try something new and entertaining (49%). The reasons for this difference can be found in the fact that for Bulgarians aqua parks are something relatively new and interesting, while for British these attractions are well known, since they are travelling a lot more and visit such attractions all around the world. Distribution by age of the motives shows that younger people like water parks because of the attractions which are entertaining. Older visitors prefer the aqua parks because they are seen as a place where they can take their children and grandchildren. Correlation between the preferred activities during the holiday and the sex, nationality and age did not show any significant differences. Both men and women had the same associations about a water park. Mainly it is a place full of emotions and fun, respectively for 63% of men and 56% of women. British and Bulgarian respondents show different perceptions of a water park. While British thought it was a place for children (56%) and place full of emotions, fun and entertainment (50%), for Bulgarians it is mainly a place full of emotions, fun and

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entertainment (75%) and only 12% consider it a place for children. The younger people consider the park as a place for entertainment (63%) and amusement with friends (49%), while the people between 36-45 years of age think of it at as a place for children (53%) and as a place for fun and emotions (59%). There is also no variation between the reasons of men and women to choose Action Aquapark. Both decided to go there mainly because it is near Sunny Beach and is easily accessible. There is considerable difference, however, in the reasons of the British and Bulgarians for choosing the Aquapark. British people go there because it is near Sunny Beach (69%) and is easy accessible (42%), while Bulgarians considered it a high-adrenaline place (32%) and visited the park because it was recommended by friends (37%). The reasons for going to Action Aquapark are the same for the people of all ages. Most of them prefer it because it is near to Sunny Beach. The correlation analysis reveals that there are certain differences between consumers preferences only in terms of nationality. The other two factors: sex and age show no important variation in the answers and are not necessary to be considered.

V.3. Findings through interviews Portugals parks are in a more advantageous position than many European water parks. After a terrible accident in a water park in Lisbon, the government introduced a law defining all regulations in the industry. Interviewed managers sometimes complained about the law but at least they had the legislative framework necessary for the parks functioning. The interviews revealed some common trends in considering the economic situation and in management polices: The four managers admitted that in the last years tourists coming to the Algarve were changing they stayed for less time than before and had lower disposable incomes. That meant that visitors were choosing one or two attractions during their holiday.

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Managers were still optimistic about the future of the water park industry in Managers were not acquainted with innovations and new technologies and

the Algarve. did not consider it a necessity to launch something different from the traditional attractions. Exception was made by Aqua Shows manager who was familiar with the experience economy concept, and supported the opinion that customers needed something completely new. All of the managers were experiencing strong competition between the four parks but they did not want to admit this fact directly. The managers of Aqualand, Slide and Splash and Zoomarine did not consider Aqua Show to be their equal competitor. Due to a bad image before its bankruptcy Aqua Show was less developed in 2005. The manager was very optimistic because parks owners were planning many new attractions for the next two years. The author considered that the other three managers underestimated the fact that the park had changed its owner and managers and all of them had high enthusiasm for making different things. The other three parks relied on their old fame. Aqualands manager emphasised that the park had already been part of a large company occupied in this industry. She thought that this company would consider and take all the responsible decisions in its headquarters. Slide and Splashs manager insisted that the fact that this park was the largest was the priority advantage for them. Zoomarine had some kind of relations with the local government and they relied that it will help in developing the idea that Zoomarine was a symbol of the Algarve. As competitive advantages each park manager reported a certain attraction The major problems of the four parks were seasonality and the non-loyal Except Aqua Show none of the other parks had a clear idea of their future The target markets of the four parks were the same. The promotion, which was unique in Portugal but could be found in most of the water parks abroad. competition in the commission relations with tour operators. developments in the next 3-5 years. advertisement and distribution channels were also similar. Even the positioning of the parks was the same: high quality and safe place for families.

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Two of the parks Zoomarine and Aqua Show considered the animals as an

important part of their products. Zoomarine was more themed as a water zoo and the animals were their main attraction. Aqua Show was a typical water park with slides, pools, roller coaster, etc. but they had added the animals as part of their product in order to increase childrens options for interactions whilst in the park. The other two parks did not consider animals important. The interview of Action Aquaparks manager illustrated the different situation for the industry in Bulgaria. The marketing manager was acquainted with the experience economy concept and realised the challenges defined by the new tourists to Sunny Beach more demanding in terms of experiences and quality, more travel experienced and with more disposable income. The similarities of answers between the managers of Aqua Show and Action Aquapark suggest that comparison between management approaches of both water parks could be made. As mentioned earlier the fact that the interviews were conducted in 2005 and in 2006 gives the advantage of analysing what has changed since this time. Aqua Shows website gives information about the success of the water roller-coaster which was launched in 2005. The plans to build a hotel have not been realised but instead they have opened a multipurpose centre with seven conference rooms suitable for various events. They have a completely new logo, vision and approach. They were underestimated two years ago but knowledge and proper planning have led to significant development. The competition environment in Bulgaria is not so complicated and Action Aquapark could gain an absolute competitive advantage if it undertakes the proper measures on time. For this reason the Bulgarian water park could adopt some of the strategies used in the Portuguese park. Aqua Shows development is an example of how the tension between competitors can stimulate a company to find appropriate strategies for the future. A remark can be made that Aqualand and Slide and Splash has not introduced anything new neither an attraction nor a vision and it is evident that they have no new management strategies.

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V.4. Conclusion The main findings of the quantitative research show that customers from different nationalities have different motives and perceptions about water parks. However, all the respondents reported that they need new attractions and experiences for a future visit to Action Aquapark. The qualitative research findings revealed that each country has its own business environment. Water park industry in Bulgaria is immature and American and European management approaches could not be applied without an adoption. In Bulgaria, there are no big players for co-branding, there is no weekend holiday market, there are limited financial resources for new investments, there are no expertise and experienced managers and there are experienced versus nonexperienced customers who Action Aquapark have to cater for.

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VI. Conclusions and recommendations


VI.1. Introduction This final chapter interprets and discusses the findings of the primary research described in the previous chapter and of the literature review examined in chapters two and three. Based on the analytical conclusions, suggestions for a possible management strategy and recommendations to managers of theme parks will be proposed. Recommendations for future research will follow from these analyses. At the end, a general conclusion is made concerning the overall aim of the research.

VI.2. Conclusions of the literature review and of the main findings The literature review highlighted that, though highly debatable, the experience economy concept can be useful as an explanation for the changes in consumers needs and behaviour. Implying some success factors (Pikkemaat and Schuckert, 2004) and experience rules (Erdly and Kesterson, 2002), the Blue Ocean Strategy can be considered by theme parks managers as a proper strategy for future development. Because this strategy seems rather theoretical and general, theme parks managers can adopt it practically by using the ABC model for implementation of imagineering. Analysis of the current situation and approaches in the theme parks industry reveals two crucial aspects which were investigated in the primary research. The first one concerns the different approaches in America and in Europe. A conclusion can be made that theory and practice in both continents differ and it is not reasonable for an approach to be implemented only because it is successful in another part of the world. Each management strategy should be tested and geared towards the national characteristics and conditions where the park is operating. It imposes the necessity to investigate the specificities of local and international customers to the destination. The research on Action Aquaparks visitors showed that Bulgarian tourists like water

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parks because they are a new type of attraction for them. Due to their lack of travel experience their expectations are not high and it is easer to satisfy them. However, theme parks in general remain an expensive amusement for them. Many of the British respondents had higher expectations due to their previous travel experience. They mostly considered water parks as places for children. However, customers from both nationalities shared the opinion that a new attraction or more variety of attractions could make them visit the park again. Moreover, the fact that Action Aquapark has operated for its first four years without launching any new attractions can be regarded as a reason for the park failing to attract many potential repeat visitors. However, the presence of few more aqua parks at the Bulgarian seaside imposes a necessity to consider a strategy which is different from introducing traditional attractions. At the same time the limited budget would not allow construction of hi-tech innovative attractions. The analysis of the quantitative research concludes that Action Aquaparks managers should find a new unique product, something that the competitors do not have and preferably this new product should provoke emotions, excitement, interaction and involvement of tourists. This leads to the second aspect of investigation the highly competitive environment of water parks. On the one hand, as the literature review illustrates, the experience economy concept suggests that companies outside the tourism business are indirectly competing with theme parks for the free time of customers. This brings to the surface the requirement for continuous innovations and introduction of new more and more unique products. Interviews with water parks managers were made in two European countries Portugal and Bulgaria. All of the interviewed managers shared directly or not their concerns about the competitive tension between them and other parks. But as Aqua Shows case reveals it is not necessary for a new innovative, expensive and unique product to be constructed. It is enough to have a structured vision and strategy for development in order to be successful. Two years ago this park was not considered as a major competitor and now it is the strongest, offering unique attractions (the water rollercoaster) for Portugal and additional convention facilities. It became a park with a completely new vision. Coincidentally or not, only Aqua Shows management were familiar with the experience economy concept and had

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realised the evolving needs of consumers. Action Aquaparks marketing manager is also one of the few who appreciated the importance of the new challenges and the need for a new management strategy. The combination of the findings from the primary and secondary research concludes that the Blue Ocean strategy could be used by Action Aquapark. The theoretical frame of this strategy states that one of the possible actions is the creation of a blue ocean from within a red ocean, meaning that a company expands the boundaries of an existing industry. This suggests that Action Aquapark should aim at a creation of a new compelling product for the existing market. Again in America and Western Europe this new product should be considered on a higher level. Due to the economic and business environment in Bulgaria and moreover to the lack of various products, this new experience or attraction will be much easier to be found by Action Aquapark.

VI.3. Recommendations to Action Aquaparks managers The findings from the questionnaires reveal that people need new attractions to stimulate them to make a repeat visit to the park. However, nine percent of the respondents added that a factor which would influence their future visit was the presence of an educational attraction (see table 5-1). The issue of animals in water parks was discussed with the four Portuguese managers. Aqua Shows manager supported the idea that animals are always interesting for children and they provide the possibility for interaction between animals and customers. Moreover, design of water parks suggests that animals could live in their natural habitat. For Action Aquapark this could be a completely new product. On the one hand, in Bulgaria zoos are in extremely poor condition. On the other hand, there is no zoo or any animal park in the Sunny Beach region. This will be a unique product for the whole seaside not to say the whole country. There is one Dolphinarium 110km away from Sunny Beach but because of its distance it is not considered as a direct competitor.

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Another study revealed that animals are an important factor influencing visitors motivation for a visit. McClung (in Swarbrooke, p. 72-73) carried out research in 1991 on customers decisions on whether or not to visit attraction sites. When respondents ranked the importance of attractions influencing the decision to visit they reported as the most important factor the exhibits/attraction promoting learning. On third place after variety of restaurants they ranked the attraction of animals in their natural habitat. When asked about the preference of a theme on which a park to be based, they went even further, rating exotic animals second after educational exhibits. For the practical implementation of the Blue Ocean Strategy the author suggested that the ABC model could be used. However, for the complete adoption of the model and the design of an implementation plan more research is essential. Here the author only gives ideas and recommendations for the future development of the strategy. Blass (2004, p. 85) describes the three phenomena a company should realise for implementation: an idea, a problem or a search strategy with a specific purpose in mind. Action Aquapark does not face a concrete idea or a problem, hence the third approach is the most suitable. The first step in the ABC model includes Analysing and Attention. The primary research outlined the sector in which the water park operates, the product and the competitive advantages of the park. The second phase involves Experiencing, Brooding and Brainstorming. The understanding of the different perceptions of the customers, shown in the empirical research, is part of this stage of the model. The next step comprises the Creation of a vision and a concept. To create a proper vision information is required about the organisation itself (culture, background, name) (Blaas, 2004). These elements have also been discussed. Further on, the product should be considered. In this part of the implementation of the model, the managers of the park may think of diversifying their product from the competitors by finding a blue ocean in the existing industry. The suggestion to introduce animals could be considered. However, further research on the feasibility of the idea need to be undertaken. This will lead to the following objective in the vision statement a

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new branding and positioning where a larger segment of the market have to be targeted. After all the additional research is completed, the managers of Action Aquapark could think of a concept creation in which the unique current advantages and the new product have to be combined with the overall aims of the organisation. The author is aware that these recommendations may show some disadvantages when further research is done. However, changes in the management policy of Action Aquapark should be made in the near future in order for the park to keep its competitive advantage and market share. At least, the water parks managers have to plan its long-term vision and concept. Swarbrooke (2002) suggests that attractions constantly have to anticipate the market changes and to attempt to plan the future. And Roy Disney adds that when values are clear, decisions are easy (Nijs and Peters in Blaas, 2004, p. 89).

VI.4. Suggestions for future research A possible strand of future research should be to investigate the personnel of the Aquapark. It may be a clich that in the tourism industry the product depends on the employees because of the service character of the business. However, additional knowledge about employees motivations, anticipations and perceptions will provide sufficient information on the supply side of the water park. This will contribute to understanding whether the personnel are acquainted with the challenges of the market and whether the employees are inclined to accept the new management strategy. Clich or not, they are the people who are serving the product and cater for the satisfaction of customers. On a more theoretical level, increased knowledge regarding legislation and regulation for theme and water parks industry, their necessity and international compatibility could lead to more focused control over the future operation of those parks and the non-loyal competition. And, as concluded before, the emergence of the experience economy creates the basis for increased levels and non-traditional methods of competition in the industry.

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VI.5. Overall conclusion The dissertation achieved the overall aim and the stated objectives. A lot of questions were investigated and answered. However, the discussed issues proved that this topic is debatable, still developing and opened. Certainly, there are a lot of things that can be added. What I have tried to do is to stimulate some thoughts about the future management strategies of theme parks. At the beginning, the task of writing this dissertation seemed so difficult and almost impossible. And now, when it is completed, I could smile and remember Walt Disneys words: Dream, Believe, Dare and then just Do it! Well, I have done it!

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Online sources:

Action Aquapark www.aquapark.bg AME Info, Philips Realigns Around New Brand Promise. available on http://www.ameinfo.com/news/Detailed/45742.html, accessed on 13.07.2006 Aqua Show Park www.aquashowpark.com Aqualand Park www.aqualand.pt/algarve/ Camp, D., Europe a single market? available on http://www.ecoures.com/documents/issue_papers/issue_era_24_Europe_A_Sin gle_Market.pdf, accessed on 14.12.2004 Destot M., (2000), Rapport dinformation sur linnovation en France. Assemble Nationale, available on http://recherche.assembleenationale.fr/resultats.asp, accessed on 16.07.2006 Euro Disney S.C.A., Key figures statistics. available on www.eurodisney.com/en/0222_3.php, accessed on 27. 07. 2006 Harvard Business School, Working Knowledge for Business Leaders. available on http://199.94.20.134/item.jhtml?id=863&t=marketing, accessed on 24.07.2006 IAAPA, Innovative Trends in the Global Amusement Industry. available on http://www.numeriqc.ca/documents/ParksAttractionsInnovativeTrendsRecreManagJuly05.pdf, accessed on 07.06.2006 Jones, C. and Robinett, J., (1998), Theme Parks and Tourism. Economics Research Associates, available on: http://www.hotelonline.com/Trends/ERA/ERARoleThemeParks.html, accessed on 17.01.2005 Merriam-Webster Online, available on http://www.webster.com/dictionary/industry, accessed on 27.07.2006 Merriam-Webster Online, available on http://www.webster.com/cgibin/dictionary, accessed on 27.07.2006 Niles, R., (August 30, 2004), Low Pays Buys Poor Quality in Theme Park Employees. available on http://www.themeparkinsider.com/columns/robert/78.cfm, accessed on 27.07.2007 OBrien. T., (March 5, 2001), Six Flags Debuts Queue Management. available on http://www.lo-.com/press/ Amusement%20Business%20March%202001.htm, accessed on 27.07.2007 Proquest, (August, 2003), Brand Entertainment: Bands play the worlds stage. Centaur Communications Ltd., available on http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=389517031&sid=7&Fmt=3&clientld=15517 &RQT=309&VName=PQD&cfc=1, accessed on 14.04.2005 Reichheld, F., (March, 2006), A Satisfied Customer Isnt Enough. available on http://199.94.20.134/item.jhtml?id=5236&t=strategy, accessed on 24.07.2006 Slide and Splash Park www.slidesplash.com

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Sotto, E., Interview, available on http://www.themedattraction.com/sotto.htm, accessed on 27.07.2006 Tom Biro, Samsungs Imagine Campaign. available on http://www.adjab.com/2005/06/09/samsungs-imagine-campaign/, accessed on 13.07.2006 Tropical Islands, My Day in Paradise. available on http://www.my-tropicalislands.com/paradies-e.htm, accessed on 27.07.2007 Value Based Management, Blue Ocean Strategy. available on http://www.valuebasedmanagement.net/methods_kim_blue_ocean_strategy.htm l, accessed on15.07.2007 vSentes Blog, available on http://twoscenarios.typepad.com/ maneuver_marketing_commun/blue_ocean_strategy/index.html, accessed on 15.07.2007 Wikipedia, Blue Ocean Strategy. available on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Ocean_Strategy , accessed on 15.07.2007 Wikipedia, The Experience Economy. available on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experience_economy, accessed on 15.07.2006 Zoomarine Park www.zoomarine.pt

Newspapers and Magazines


24 Hours, Bulgarian daily paper, (translation from Bulgarian, the original title is: 24 ), 11 August, 2007 Leisure Opportunities Magazine, 20 July 02 August, 2004 World Waterpark Magazine, June, 2006

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APPENDICES

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Appendix 1: Euro Disneys attendance and revenues figures for the period 2003 2005

Key Figures
Statistics

Key Figures
Statistics

Source: Euro Disney S.C.A., Key figures statistics available on http://www.eurodisney.com/en/0222_3.php, accessed on 27.07.2006

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Appendix 2: Distribution of theme parks in Western Europe

Source: Holloway (2002, p. 201)

85

Appendix 3: Distribution of water parks in Western Europe

Source: adaptation by the author from Holloway (2002, p. 201)

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Appendix 4: Euro Disneys breakdown of transportation used by guests in 2005

Key Figures
Statistics

Source: Euro Disney S.C.A., Key figures statistics available on http://www.eurodisney.com/en/0222_3.php, accessed on 27.07.2006

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Appendix 5: Euro Disneys attendance and revenues figures for the period 2004 2006

Key Figures
Statistics

Key Figures
Statistics

Source: Euro Disney S.C.A., Key figures statistics available on http://www.eurodisney.com/en/0222_3.php, accessed on 29.07.2007

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Appendix 6: Map of Action Aquapark, Sunny Beach, Bulgaria

Source: Action Aquaparks web site: www.aquapark.bg

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Appendix 7: Quantitative research of customers of Action Aquapark, July 2006


Source: GfK Research Company, July, 2006
GfK Bulgaria Custom Research 2006

GfK Custom Research The knowledge you need to make successful business decisions

Growth from Knowledge


Quantitative research Action Aquapark

July 2006

GfK Bulgaria

Custom Research

2006

Table of content

1 2 3 4

Aims and characteristics of the research Attendance of the Aquapark Reasons for not visiting the park Conclusions

90

GfK Bulgaria

Custom Research

2006

Aims and Characteristics of the Research

GfK Bulgaria

Custom Research

2006

Aims of the research


Marketing aim: To be determined the Aquaparks attendance and the reasons for not visiting it. 4 Aims of research:

To be defined: Holidays to the Southern seaside; Aquaparks attendance in the period 2005 2006; Reasons for not visiting Action Aquapark;

GfK Bulgaria

Custom Research

2006

Characteristics of the research

Type of research Coverage of the research

Quantitative research Omnibus National representative research of the population aged 15+ Method of casual pace (with last birthday)

Method of research

Sample size

Sample: n=1000

Method of collecting data

Personal interviews at the house of the respondent

Period of research

July 2006

91

GfK Bulgaria

Custom Research

2006

Sample structure

Representative sample

Age

Sex
51,8%

Region

48,2%

34,0%
Men Women

15,0% 11,7% 11,0% 10,1% 7,0%

14,5%

17,0% 8,0% 10,0%

15,0%

17,0%

8,7%

11,7% 10,3%

Bourgas

Lovech

City of Sofia

GfK Bulgaria

Custom Research

2006

Action Aquapark Attendance

GfK Bulgaria

Custom Research

2006

Aquaparks attendance
Holidays to the southern seaside Aquaparks attendance

Haskovo

Plovdiv

15-19

20-25

26-35

36-45

46-55

Over 56

Montana

Sofia Region

Varna

Ruse

100% 90% 80% 70% 60%

79,4%

NO 75,1 % YES 24,9 %

50% 40% 30%

20,6%
20% 10% 0%

No

YES

Base: All respondents N =1000

Base: Respondents who have visited the southern seaside in 2005 or 2006, N = 249

1. Did you visit the southern seaside in 2005 or 2006? 2. Did you visit the Aquapark in Sunny Beach in 2005 or 2006?

92

GfK Bulgaria

Custom Research

2006

Aquaparks attendance residents of Bourgas region

9
100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

83,5%

16,5%

No

Yes

Base: Residents of Bourgas region N = 99

2. Did you visit the Aquapark in Sunny Beach in 2005 or 2006?

GfK Bulgaria

Custom Research

2006

Aquaparks attendance residents of the city of Bourgas

10
100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

75,6%

24,4%

No

Yes

Base: Residents of the city of Bourgas N = 52

2. Did you visit the Aquapark in Sunny Beach in 2005 or 2006?

GfK Bulgaria

Custom Research

2006

Aquaparks attendance - age

11

Much higher than the average

2. Did you visit the Aquapark in Sunny Beach in 2005 or 2006?

93

GfK Bulgaria

Custom Research

2006

Reasons for not Visiting the Park

GfK Bulgaria

Custom Research

2006

Reasons for not visiting Action Aquapark


Base: respondents who did not visit the water park

0%

10%

20%

30%

40%

50%

60%

70%

80%

90%

100%

13

I spent my holiday in another region It is expensive

20,2%

10,8% 17,1% 7,8% People who visited the southern seaside (N=198) 4,1% 16,4% 0,9% 9,4% 0,6% 3,2% 56,5% 58,7% Residents of the city of Bourgas (N=39)

I had no time

I am not interested

I have never heard of it

I am old for that

No specific reason

3. Would you please state which are the reasons for not visiting Action Aquapark?

GfK Bulgaria

Custom Research

2006

Conclusions

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GfK Bulgaria

Custom Research

2006

Conclusions
About 1/5 of the respondents who visited the southern seaside in 2005 / 2006 have visited Action Aquapark. Generally, respondents find difficult to define a specific reason for not visiting the park. As main reasons, people point out: They had holiday in another remoter region; It is expensive; I had no time; Customers of Action Aquapark are mainly young people at the age of 25 with higher income.

15

About of the residents of the city of Bourgas have visited the Aquapark in 2005/2006. The main reasons for them for not visiting the park are: It is expensive; I am not interested; I have never heard of it;

GfK Bulgaria

Custom Research

2006

Recommendations
More intensive communication aiming at attracting the local population.
16

To be emphasized on promotions of package prices which seem to be more appealing for customers.

GfK Bulgaria

Custom Research

2006

To understand your customers is the key to success !

Growth from Knowledge

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Appendix 8: Questionnaire distributed among Action Aquaparks customers

Dear guests, You are spending a nice and amusing day in Action Aquapark. We are very interested in your experiences in our water park. Between the different slides, while sunbathing, we would appreciate if you could spend few minutes in sharing your opinion with us. Darina Suleva from Bulgaria is doing a research study on the water park industry as part of her Master course in European Tourism Management in Bournemouth University, UK. This research is primarily based on water parks visitors, to see what their experience in Action Aquapark is. Besides the parents opinion we would also like to know what the children think: If the children are happy, we are happy. Isnt that often the case? It would be preferable when more questionnaires per family are being filled out (in case of more children). Please, help us so we can make your action world more amusing! Many thanks on behalf of Action Aquapark management! We wish you exciting and unforgettable memories in Action Aquapark!

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Name (optional): Age: Sex (circle the correct answer): M F Education: Profession: Nationality: Where do you stay (which hotel and resort)? Family: young (age between 20-35) mature (36-45) older (46-65) Children aged below 12 in household: 1. For how many days are you already in Bulgaria? 1) 1-3 days 2) 4-6 days 3) More (please state) .. 2. With whom are you here? .. 3. What are your activities during your holiday? 1) Going to the beach/pool 2) Visiting historical and cultural places of interest 3) Bars and discos crawl 4) Other (please state) .................... ... 4. Why did you decide to visit a water park? 1) I looked for something entertaining and emotional 2) I am bored of the beach 3) I like those type of attractions 4) Because the child/children wanted 5. Have you ever been to a water park before? 1) No 2) Yes (where) 6. What is most important for you to spend a nice and happy day in a water park? ..

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7. What do you associate a water park with? 1) A place for children 2) A place for amusement with friends 3) A place to escape from the ordinary world 4) A place full of emotions, fun and entertainment 8. What did you expect when you first have heard Action Aquapark? What do you associate the name with? 9. Have you visited Action Aquapark before? 1) No 2) Yes. How many times? 10. Why did you choose Action Aquapark? 1) It is near Sunny Beach 2) It is easy accessible 3) Because it offers high-adrenalin slides 4) It was recommended by the tour operator 5) It was recommended by friends 6) I liked the image of the Aquapark in the brochure 7) I liked the image of the Aquapark in internet 8) Other 11. How do you know about Action Aquapark? 1) From the tour operator/ travel agency 2) From the hotel reception 3) From brochures 4) From other advertisements (please state) 5) From friends recommendations 6) From internet 12. What would make you come again if you have the opportunity? 1) Lower price 2) Higher quality of service 3) New attraction 4) An educational attraction (small museum, animals show or exhibition) 5) Other new experience (please state) 13. How would you describe your experience on the rides? 1) Excellent 2) Good 3) Fair 4) Poor

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14. What did you like best? 15. Overall how would you rate Action Aquapark? 1) Excellent 2) Good 3) Fair 4) Poor 16. Did the park fulfill your expectations? 1) Yes 2) No (Why?) . 17. Would you recommend the park to someone else? 1) Yes 2) No (Why?) . 18. Would you buy in advance before coming to Bulgaria a ticket for the Aquapark through internet, for example if it was possible? 1) Yes 2) No (Why?) ... 19. Any suggestions, comments and recommendations that would help the management to improve the Aquaparks service?

Thank you very much for your cooperation!

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Appendix 9: Interview with Paulo Severino, manager of Aqua Show Water Park in Portugal

Interview Aqua Show, Quarteira, Algarve, Portugal


Name: Paulo Severino Position: Park Manager Date: 18-05-2005

1. What trends do you see in the water park industry in Europe? In 1997 the Portuguese government introduced a law for the water parks. Now I see a challenge in the Algarves parks and the tourism as a whole something has to be done for increasing visitors in the low season. Nowadays the difficult thing is not to reach high level but how you will manage to maintain it. 2. How do you see the future of the industry? In the future I consider there will have a shift from water to more thematic parks. Besides, people want more emotions and we are considering such attractions which will give us the opportunity for a different diversification and it will help us for working also in the winter. 3. Are you familiar with the new technologies (entrance, queue management, virtual reality)? Where do you gain your information from? In the law there is a limit of the number of guests which a park could serve for a day. Every day in the summer we reach this limit. We are trying now to have this number reconsidered by the government. If we have the this permission for more people we will definitely consider attractions with new technologies. 4. Experience economy. Do you think that the competition outside the industry is becoming fiercer? Portugal is not advertised properly. Water parks work only in the high season. There is lack of association of those attractions in Portugal. They could make lobby (to change the law). Water parks should be considered as the safest place to go during the holiday. We are not advertising the industry as a whole which is a big problem. 5. Do you think that there are many parks in so small area like the Algarve? One is never enough. Competition is always good. Three years ago each park had to present a report about injures that occurred inside. The ministry called them

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accidents and gave the information to the newspapers. In this way all the industry suffered. But I think that there are tourists for everyone. 6. What are your competitive advantages? We offer toys for the kids; we have high levels of safety and security; in Aqua Show is the biggest pool with waves in Portugal; also the white slide which has a fall is unique. And may be the most important we have been introducing new animals since 2002 which diversifies our product and attracts more people. 7. Which are your main competitors in the industry and outside the industry? In the industry, they are: 1) Slide & Splash which have more people than us. 2) The Big One 3) Then Zoomarine 4) Isla Magica just a little bit Outside the water park industry: 1) Safari excursions 2) Boats and fishing 3) Bullfight excursions 8. What are your major problems? How do you manage them? The park bankrupted few years ago. Now it has a new owner. The sad think is that the park still has a bad image because of the past problems. Another problem that we have is the limit of people that is determined by the government and of course, the seasonality. Here in the Algarve there is also one unspoken problem. There is a commercial war among the parks for the tour operators commission. It reached 40% of the ticket price and the parks are continuing to increase this percent. What are they working for? Water parks are not organized and tour operators are dictating the rules. 9. The tourist product of the Algarve is changing. Do you experience increase of the number of visitors from year to year or the opposite? What are the trends the last 3-5 years? Algarve made several main mistakes: the architecture and the construction were not planned; there is much building of bars and restaurants. The region didnt change the last years as a whole and that resulted in less quality of tourists.

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10. When was the park opened? The park exists from 1991 then it bankrupted, because they couldnt follow the law. In 1999 the new owner came and the park re-opened in 2001. 11. Who is the owner? A Portuguese family company which main business is constructing hotels, homes, etc. they have hired another company to manage the park. 12. What is the size of the park? Water surface and public areas altogether form 42.000sq.m. 13. What is the operating time each year? From May till the end of October. 14. What is the number of visitors per season? In 2003 they were 98.550 people. In 2004 114.816 people. Twenty percent of all the tourists came by tour operators. 15. What is the maximum number of visitors per day? In the middle of July usually we have around 3000 but according to the law at one moment we should not exceed 2.200 people. We would like to change it to 4.500. in May the maximum visitors that we have is 1.100-1.300 people. 16. How many employees do you have? We have 16 lifeguards fulltime. In August we double them. There are also parttime life guards who work in weekends and holidays. The F&B department has 12 people who are managed by the parks managers. We have about 12 maintenance workers and 30 bus drivers. That makes a total of 80 people. 17. Which is your key attraction? We have the White slide which is unique in Europe, also the children pool and pool with waves are key attraction. In few monts we will introduce a new roller coaster. 18. Do you plan to construct a new attraction in the near future? In what period of time do you introduce a new attraction? We plan to expand the area to 70.000sq.m. As I said there will be a new rollercoaster in August and the White snake slide in June or July. Next year our intention is also to build a hotel.

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19. Do you have animals? Why do the other parks combine the slides with animals? Yes! We are the only water park in the Algarve which offers animals together with high-trill attractions. This enables in theming the park which we consider very important. 20. What are your strengths? And unique selling points? Diversification, attractions, safety. We have the biggest wave pool in Portugal. We were the first water park which made an evacuation (11th August, 2002) for four minutes in Portugal. The national institutions police, fire-brigade and the health institution were involved. It was also a PR event which showed that the management of the park is directly concerned for the tourists safety. 21. What is the vision, mission, strategic goals of the company/park? Safety is first! We want the park to be known as the place to go in Portugal and we will make this with the introduction of the water-coaster. 22. Do you make any market analysis, questionnaires, competitive comparison? We do not have any information about competitors. We were adopting questionnaires in the past. Last year we distributed ours and found out two main things: People were complaining about the restaurants which were given on a Tourists wanted a roller-coaster because there is no in the Algarve and now we concession. Now we manage them and we have no complaints. are constructing it. 23. What are your marketing objectives? To increase the off-peak attendance; To organise events in the evenings for example, on 6th August, 2005 we plan to

have a huge disco party. We also consider the idea of a typical Algarve dinner and night catering to the elder tourists. It will include meal, show with actors and singers, dance music. To increase the repeat visitors because now they are estimated to 20%, not higher.

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24. What is your pricing policy? Each year the admission fee increases. Last year (2004) the prices were 17 and 13,5. This year (2005) they are: 18 adult; 15 children to (4-14 years) and seniors (65+) free younger than 4 years We have one fee for the whole park. Additionally tourists are paying only for playing billiard, video games, mini-golf and of course, souvenirs. We dont have different prices for a full and a half day entrance. Of course, we compare our prices with competitors but informally, otherwise, it is not legal. We have also multi visit cards and offer discounts in the low season May and October. 25. Which Are you target markets? Nationality British, Germans, Dutch, French in August, Spanish and Portuguese in the high season. This park has more than others Portuguese visitors. The park is positioned as a family park and hence we have mostly families 26. Is there a change of the markets preferences the last 3-5 years? Yes, first of all people want more emotions and excitement which results in completely new attractions. Besides there are more families visiting Algarve. 27. What is your promotion? On what does the budget for it depend (% of sales)? When is it determined? The strategy is determined each year before the opening of the park in the winter. However, we do not have enough money. 28. What kind of advertisement/promotion do you use (TV, national/regional press, guide books, outdoor, transport, in the supermarkets)? In the high season we use TV commercials. We make small announcements in the national and regional press, radio advertisements. We have outdoor signs and make promotions in the supermarkets. Our busses are also important channel of advertisement. 29. Do you have special PR person? How do you develop the PR of the park? Yes!

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30. How do you reach the customers? How do you sell the park? Through hotels (which estimates to 25% of total visits), travel agencies, tour operators and our own promoters (they distribute brochures collect the money from our partners). 31. What is the national/regional government doing to help you? After a terrible accident in Lisbon in 1997, the government introduced a law for the water parks. 32. Are you a member of an organization/association? How does it help you? No 33. How do you position the park? A family park.

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Appendix 10: Interview with Maria Jos Anastcio, manager of Aqualand Water Park in Portugal

Interview Aqualand( former The Big One) Alcantarilha, Algarve, Portugal


Name: Maria Jos Anastcio Position: Park Manager Date: 19-05-2005

1. What trends do you see in the water park industry in Europe? The situation is stable. I dont consider that the number of parks is increasing. 2. How do you see the future of the industry? Concerning our park, I think it is stable. The group which owns the park Grupo Aspro Ocio is buying constantly new theme parks and is expanding each year. Now it owns 25 units. 3. Are you familiar with the new technologies (entrance, queue management, virtual reality)? Where do you gain your information from? Our policy is to use more traditional attractions and not the latest innovations. A companys investigation reveals that this is clients expectation. 4. Do you think that the competition outside the industry is becoming fiercer? Not here in Portugal or at least not in Algarve. People here are not acquainted with new alternatives for spending free time and hence nobody is offering such. 5. Do you think that there are many parks in so small area like the Algarve? No, it is not really competition. Each park has 2000-3000 visitors during the high season. However, the main problem is seasonality. April, May and September those are the months when each park needs more visitors. 6. What are your competitive advantages? We are more spacious than the others. Also we offer the biggest number of attractions. Our unique attractions are: the largest Camikadze slide Banzai and the only semi Olympic pool, in Portugal. 7. Which are your main competitors in the industry and outside the industry? The beach is the most important competitor. Also two of the other parks: partly Zoomarine, but it doesnt offer much slides and high-thrill attractions and

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Slide&Splash the nearest water park which is the biggest in the Algarve and has the same area of influence. Also, I would add all the excursions to the mountains, because after several days at the beach at this hot weather people prefer the cooler weather there. But I dont think of alternative competitors outside the tourism industry. 8. What are your major problems (ex. lack of tourists, competition, tour operators)? How do you manage them? Tourism in the Algarve is decreasing and I consider that number of clients is going to be our major problem. Moreover, the tourists are changing. The new tourists coming to Portugal has less spending power. Another issue is tour operators, they have the clients are they can convince them where to go. Seasonality is also a problem that I have already mentioned. 9. The tourist product of the Algarve is changing. You experience decrease of the number of visitors from year to year. What are the trends the last 3-5 years? We witness lower quality tourists. And Scandinavians which were very important market are significantly decreasing. 10. When was the park opened? It was built in 1985 and opened in 1986. 11. Who is the owner? Grupo Aspro Ocio, a Spanish company. 12. What is the size of the park? 60 000 sq.m 13. What is the operating time each year? 2 May 23 September 14. What is the number of visitors per season? 150 000 visitors (average during the last 4 years). 15. What is the maximum number of visitors for a day? 3200 3500 visitors. 16. How many employees do you have? During the high season they are 100. In May and September 70 In the high season we have 43 lifeguards.

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17. Which is your key attraction? The Camicadze slide Banzai. 18. Do you plan to construct a new attraction in the near future? In what period of time do you introduce a new attraction? The last one was built in 2002 the semi Olympic pool. In 2007 we plan to introduce a lazy river. 19. Do you have animals? Why do the other parks combine the slides with animals? No, we do not offer animals as additional attraction because we dont consider them important. But we use the frog as a symbol of the park. Anyway, animals always attract more children. 20. What are your strengths? And unique selling points? We are the first park built in the Algarve. Another advantage which we have is that we are part of a big group which gives us more resources and international experience. We are also the biggest park and we are in the middle of Algarve. So our position is another strong point that we have. 21. What are the vision, mission, strategic goals of the company/park? Offer entertainment in safe centres and respect the environment. We offer quality service provided by motivated team for our clients to be satisfied and to come back. In the annual budget from the company we have some goals stated which has to be achieved number of tourists, promotional campaign and indication that it was effective. 22. Do you make any market analysis, questionnaires, competitive comparison? Yes, we make questionnaires which reveal that tourists like The Big One more than the other parks. Two years ago a research of competitors was conducted investigating products, price and promotion; how to attract tourists from the more passive areas; the attitude of the employees. On its basis we made evaluation of ourselves. But this research was done for the company before buying the park. 23. What are your marketing objectives? To increase the number of visitors especially by attracting repeat visits from the local population. For that reason we introduced an incentive tool if 7 people come, one is free. We do not consider to organize something in the evenings for additional

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attendance. We want to grab the attention of the anonymous client who has no channel to come to the park. There are many of them, mostly foreigners. They are short stay tourists average 6 days of holiday. 24. What is your pricing policy? Our prices are: 16,50 for an adult 13,25 for a child (4-10 years), retried people (65+) free under 4 years We dont offer different prices in the morning and in the afternoon. We have one fee for the whole park and for the whole day. We dont compare with competitors prices. We have a tourist card (3 visits of 4 people for 3 weeks). We offer certain discounts in the supermarkets, at the beach and in the streets of the resorts. 25. Which Are your target markets? Nationality British, Scandinavians, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese; few Germans Age not old; teenagers Families between families and young non-married (average 27 year old) 26. Is there a change of the markets preferences the last 3-5 years? No. people want always the same: fun, sun, space and speed. 27. What is your promotion? What does the budget for it depend on (% of sales)? When is it determined? At the beginning of the season the Group determines a certain budget for each park. The Group invest approximately 4% of this budget. We invest everything else. And if it is a bad year, we have to invest more and not the Group. 28. What kind of advertisement/promotion do you use? We do our adverts in the national press, in the supermarkets, hotel receptions and in the streets. We have outdoor advertisement also. The buses (we own some of them, the others are rented) which go to all the main resorts in the Algarve are also our promoters. They cost 3,50-4,50. 29. Do you have special PR person? How do you develop the PR of the park? We have PR Manager. Additionally we have a commercial department 6 people in May and in the high season 5 more.

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30. How do you reach the customers? How do you sell the park? The hotel receptions and some shops are selling our tickets. We emphasise on publicity. Tour operators are of course another channel but their commissions grew more than ever. They take from each park 40-45% of the ticket price!!! 31. What is the national/regional government doing to help you? They have introduced a law which acquires from us things from various aspects. For example, in accordance with a parks size you are obliged to have a sign at the entrance of the maximum capacity the park could serve. Ours is 2.100 people. And the institutions are checking whether a park has more than this number of customers very often during the high season. 32. Are you a member of an organization/association? How does it help you? No, this park is not. May be the group is but I dont know. In Portugal, certainly, we are not. 33. How do you position the park? The biggest, the best, the safest!

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Appendix 11: Interview with Jose Bento, marketing manager of Zoomarine Park in Portugal

Interview Zoomarine, Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal


Name: Jose Bento Position: Marketing manager Date: 20-05-2005

1. What trends do you see in the water park industry in Europe? I dont see anything new. 2. How do you see the future of the industry? People want to build a new park. But there are not enough tourists in the Algarve. 3. Are you familiar with the new technologies (entrance, queue management, virtual reality)? Where do you gain your information from? No. We intend to have more animals, no slides and technologies. 4. Do you think that the competition outside the industry is becoming fiercer? No opinion. 5. Do you think that there are many parks in so small area like the Algarve? Yes, I think that there are too many water parks. Two of them are very close to each other and fight (The Big One and Slide and Splash). There should have geographical distribution. 6. What are your competitive advantages? We have animals and offer various shows. We cater mostly to educational groups. 7. Which are your main competitors in the industry and outside the industry? Our competitors are the Lisbon Zoo which has dolphins, parrots, sea lions, etc. Here the Algarve Zoo is, but not really because it doesnt have such animals. Also a new competitor is the water park Aqua Show because it offers now birds shows and plans to bring dolphins. 8. What are your major problems? How do you manage them? We dont have problems with competition and tour operators. People (tourists and locals) have not enough money to buy more than two attraction sites while on a holiday. And we are always one of those two!

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9. The tourist product of the Algarve is changing. What are the trends the last 35 years? Five years ago Algarve was seen as sun and beach destination and people tended to stay at least 2 weeks. Now tourists have changed and stay for shorter period 5-7 day. Also tour operators dont know exactly how many people will come for a season. Now Algarve offers as attractions the Zoomarine, the golf courses and historical attractions. 10. When was the park opened? 3 of August, 1991. 11. Who is the owner? One Portuguese and two Argentinean men. 12. What is the size of the park? 200.000sq.m that includes all the area the park, the parking area, and still not developed area which will be finished in 2 years (in 2007). 13. What is the operating time each year? The park is opened all year-round, 7 days of the week, from 10.00 till 18.00/20.00 in the summer. 14. What is the number of visitors per season? 450.000 people. 15. What is the maximum number of visitors per day? Thirty percent of all the visitors are coming in August and then we have approximately 8.000 people per day; in July and September they are about 20% of all the customers which accounts to 1.500 people per day. 16. How many employees do you have? 200 permanent staff and 300 seasonal jobs 17. Which is your key attraction? The dolphin show. 18. Do you plan to construct a new attraction in the near future? In what period of time do you introduce a new attraction? We plan to develop a Biology Museum in the future. Also we are constructing new interaction area and will introduce more animals. We looked for new attractions in
rd

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Italy last year and 3 years ago. Each year we make something new (attractions or shows). 19. Why do the other parks combine the slides with animals? When Zoomarine opened the other parks had already been established. However, only we have dolphins because it is very difficult to have them as an attraction in a water park. 20. What are your strengths? And unique selling points? Our unique selling point is the dolphins 80-90% of people are coming for the dolphins and the birds also. 21. What are the vision, mission, strategic goals of the company/park? Each year we have an increase of visitors. We aim at 600 000 visitors for a year. When the construction works in the additional area are finished, we expect the visitors to visit at least two times the park in order to be able to see everything. 22. Do you make any market analysis, questionnaires, competitive comparison? We are not investigating competitors. We make different questionnaires for each department/attraction for the shows, the restaurants, the park as a whole, the interaction areas. From those analyses the managers decided to change the restaurants place and to develop there the swimming pool area. 23. What are your marketing objectives? Our objective is to increase the repeat visitors. We consider also offering the park as a place for organizing business events, weddings, etc. 24. What is your pricing policy? Our prices are the same all the year and includes a full-day visit: 19,90 for an adult 12,20 for a child (5-10 years), retried people (65+) Free under 5 years We dont offer different prices in the morning and in the afternoon. We have one fee for the whole park and for the whole day. We have free cards for the employees of the hotels, travel agencies and tour operators. We offer certain discounts only for big groups. 25. Which are you target markets? Nationality - British, Spanish, Dutch , Russians, not Germans.

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School groups from Algarve and Alentejo. 26. Is there a change of the markets preferences the last 3-5 years?

Yes! 27. What is your promotion? What does the budget for it depend on (% of sales)? When is it determined? Our promotion is planned for the whole year. It is mainly oriented to the hotels in the region and to the Spanish market. 28. What kind of advertisement/promotion do you use (TV, national/regional press, guide books, outdoor, transport, in the supermarkets)? We use TV commercials in the summer. We use also the national and regional press but no magazines. We have busses in all the Algarve which costs 4 for an adult. Additionally, we offer one ticket including transportation and entrance. We do not distribute leaflets and we do not promote discounts. Tour operators are our main channel of distribution. 29. In your brochure you are using the many experience words? Who is the creator of the brochure? The marketing department. 30. Do you have special PR person? How do you develop the PR of the park? The marketing department. 31. How do you reach the customers? How do you sell the park? We are in very good relations with the tour operators and not with the hotels. However, our ticket office sells 60% of all the tickets. 32. What is the national/regional government doing to help you? Yes, the government is helping us. We have cooperated with the University of Algarve. Also the local council looks at us as a good project. 33. Are you a member of an organization/association? How does it help you? We are a member of the European Park Association and IAAPA. They include Zoomarine in their brochures providing information. They are not doing any promotion but they help us with the animals. 34. How do you position the park? Its a theme park with mammals. A theme park for education entertainment for all the family!

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Appendix 12: Interview with Ana Tendinha, marketing manager of Slide and Splash Water Park in Portugal

Interview Slide & Splash, Lagoa, Portugal


Name: Ana Tendinha Position: Marketing/Commercial Director Date: 21-05-2005

1. What trends do you see in the water park industry in Europe? In Portugal I think there is evolution in the industry. It is increasing. But last year tourism wasnt good. 2. How do you see the future of the industry? I see good perspectives. 3. Are you familiar with the new technologies (entrance, queue management, virtual reality)? Where do you gain your information from? No. Only in the restaurants, managers are familiar with them. 4. Experience economy. Do you think that the competition outside the industry is becoming fiercer? No. 5. Do you think that there are many parks in so small area like the Algarve? They are just enough. 6. What are your competitive advantages? Quality and innovation in slides. We are improving the area all the time, for now only its appearance. 7. Which are your main competitors in the industry and outside the industry? Aqua Show they are increasing the level of their management. Also Aqualand is a competitor, because they are improving their current attraction. 8. What are your major problems (ex. lack of tourists, competition, tour operators)? How do you manage them? The competitors seem to be a problem mainly because they make secret discounts which action is not loyal competition. And for that reason tour operators want very high commissions.

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9. The tourist product of the Algarve is changing. Do you experience increase of the number of visitors from year to year or the opposite? What are the trends the last 3-5 years? The product of the water parks is changing its becoming bigger, but with no quality. Also we witness worse quality of tourists (paying for packages and allinclusive). But I believe it is changing for better. Tourists choose only one park or at least their children. Obviously everything depends on the development of the European economy. 10. When was the park opened? In 1986. 11. Who is the owner? Two Portuguese men. 12. What is the size of the park? 85.000sq.m. 13. What is the operating time each year? One week before Easter till 31st October. The working time is from 10 till 17/18 in August. 14. What is the number of visitors per season? Approximately 300 000 visitors. 15. What is the maximum number of visitors per day? 3 800 people which is in accordance with the limits exposed by the law. This law determines the limit in accordance with the size of the park. Each park is obliged to have a counting machine at the entrance and the authorities are checking this machine. 16. How many employees do you have? Now (May) 100 employees, in the high season they are becoming 150. 17. Which is your key attraction? The Black hole slide is the key attraction. It is only one in Portugal and it is here. It is dark inside and you hear screams. Also the Race Slide is important attraction.

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18. Do you plan to construct a new attraction in the near future? In what period of time do you introduce a new attraction? Yes, we plan to have a new attraction in the next 3 years. We constructed a kids area three years ago and a swimming pool. 19. Do you have animals? Why do the other parks combine the slides with animals? We have only parrots for making photographs. 20. What are your strengths? And unique selling points? Quality and innovation. Also our distribution system is very well organized we have 1000 points where the park is offered. 21. What is the vision, mission, strategic goals of the company/park? We target at more clients. We have summer promotions in the shopping centers and we are their sponsor. This positions the park in peoples minds. We have to do it because the others are doing it. 22. Do you make any market analysis, questionnaires, competitive comparison? We made questionnaires before several years. The last three years we meet with potential visitors before the season. 23. What are your marketing objectives? To increase the number of visitors during the low season. Tour operators were organizing night shows here but it was 15 years ago. We have many repeat visitors which is nice. 24. What is your pricing policy? Our prices now are: 16 adult 13 child (5-10); seniors (65+) free under 5 years Tourists are paying additionally the sunshades and the lockers, they also pay a deposit for the sun chairs. We are going to introduce multi visit cards next year. I would like to add that in Augusts there are not so many group discounts. 25. Which Are you target markets? Nationality British, Dutch, Germans no, in the weekends Spanish and Portuguese.

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Mostly families. 26. Is there a change of the markets preferences the last 3-5 years? No. 27. What is your promotion? On what does the budget for it depend (% of sales)? When is it determined? No answer. 28. What kind of advertisement/promotion do you use? We use guide books, outdoor advertisement and the transport. 29. Do you have special PR person? How do you develop the PR of the park? I am that person. 30. How do you reach the customers? How do you sell the park? Through tour operators, rent-a-car companies, hotel receptions and separate selling points. 31. What is the national/regional government doing to help you? Nothing. There are even no signs of the park on the highway. 32. Are you a member of an organization/association? How does it help you? WWA 33. How do you position the park? The best park in the Algarve. We aim first at quality and security and then the slides. The children area is unique because the parents can stay very near to their children.

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Appendix 13: Interview with Mila Razsolkova, marketing manager of Action Aquapark in Bulgaria

Interview Action Aquaprk, Sunny Beach, Bulgaria


Name: Mila Razsolkova Position: Marketing manager Date: 26-07-2006

1. What trends do you see in the water park industry in Europe? Water parks in Europe are becoming more themed and managers introduce many hitech attractions. In Bulgaria this industry started its development two years ago. Due to lack of finances (all the parks are built with bank loans) Bulgarian water parks are not able to invest in innovative attractions. 2. How do you see the future of the industry? The rapid development of the industry suggests that competition moves to different levels. It includes new attractions and completely new strategies. The price competition is not important any more. 3. Are you familiar with the new technologies (entrance, queue management, virtual reality)? Where do you gain your information from? Yes, as a member of WWO we receive each month their magazines where all the latest innovations are presented. The queue management is something we need to introduce soon as it appears to be a problem in Action Aquapark. 4. Experience economy. Do you think that the competition outside the industry is becoming fiercer? Definitely. Each company aims at satisfying consumers needs of experiences and interaction. 5. Do you think that there are many parks in so small area like the Black Sea coastline? There are different opinions in the issue. I personally think that there should be one park for several resorts. The proximity of Aqua Paradise (10km away from here) is influencing attendance in both parks.

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6. What are your competitive advantages? We have the previous experience. We are the first water park in Bulgaria. We had operational consultants Sim Leisure Consultants which taught us to the foreign experience. All our lifeguards were trained by them also. For the three years of operating we have almost paid our bank loans and soon we will be able to consider the introduction of a modern attraction. 7. Which are your main competitors in the industry and outside the industry? The main competitor is Aqua Paradise, the other water park nearby. But even at the beach there are so many interaction activities offered that the beach itself could be considered as major competitor. 8. What are your major problems (ex. lack of tourists, competition, tour operators)? How do you manage them? Our main concerns are the repeat visitors. Sunny beach and the near resorts attract same tourists for years. People have visited our park already several times and they know everything here. We have to find something new which will attract those tourists again. 9. Do you experience increase of the number of visitors from year to year or the opposite? What are the trends the last 3-5 years? Three years ago Germans were the main market for Bulgaria. The last years British and Scandinavians are significantly increasing. I think that for the attraction industry this trend is advantageous because both of the nations are keener on amusement and excitement. 10. When was the park opened? 13th July, 2003. 11. Who is the owner? A Bulgarian company. 12. What is the size of the park? 24.000sq.m. 13. What is the operating time each year? The park is opened from end of May till beginning of September, from 10.00 till 19.00.

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14. What is the number of visitors per season? Approximately 180.000 15. What is the maximum number of visitors per day? 2.500 visitors. 16. How many employees do you have? 120 employees. 17. Which is your key attraction? We have four Kamikaze slides, which are the highest and the most vertical in Bulgaria. Honestly, they are a bit scary. 18. Do you plan to construct a new attraction in the near future? In what period of time do you introduce a new attraction? Next year we will start the season with a new Racing Slide. This is the first new attraction from the opening of the park. The other park has the same so that will not give us a strong step ahead. 19. What is the vision, mission, strategic goals of the company/park? The most important strategic goal is to keep and expand our market share by offering safety, quality, hospitality and fun. 20. Do you make any market analysis, questionnaires, competitive comparison? Competitive comparison still no, because our direct competitor has just appeared in the business. From the beginning we are making questionnaires because customers could tell us exactly where we need to improve. We have just ordered to a marketing company to conduct a market research on the local population. 21. What are your marketing objectives? Of course, we aim at increasing the number of visitors and especially the repeat visitors. Additionally, we organise each week Scandinavian foam party a night disco party, and other corporate and leisure events. 22. What is your pricing policy? We have one ticket price which includes the entrance fee, parking, sunshades, sun chairs and the usage of rubber rafts. The price depends not on the age of children but on their height because certain slides are not appropriate for shorter children. We have full day and half day tickets. The prices are: Over 1,30m full day - 14; half day - 10.

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Between 0,90 1,30m - full day - 8; half day - 5. Below 0,90m free entry. 23. Which Are you target markets? British, Scandinavians, Russians, Serbians, Macedonians, Bulgarians, mostly young non-married people and families. 24. Is there a change of the markets preferences the last 3-5 years? Certainly. I think that the development of the water park industry in Bulgaria is and answer of the customers demand for such kind of entertainment. May the tourists have changed or at least their way of thinking. 25. What is your promotion? On what does the budget for it depend (% of sales)? When is it determined? Our promotional and advertisement budget is determined in March-April for the following summer season. It depends rather on the owners decision than on percent of sales. 26. What kind of advertisement/promotion do you use? Our target market is the tourists who spend their holiday in Sunny Beach region and the locals. Thats why our promotion is on regional level TV, newspapers, magazines, billboards and distribution of brochures. 27. Do you have special PR person? How do you develop the PR of the park? The PR campaign of Action Aquapark is planned and realized by the marketing department. 28. How do you reach the customers? How do you sell the park? Our channels include: hotel receptions, tour operators, travel agencies and tourist offices. 29. What is the national/regional government doing to help you? Unfortunately, nothing. There are no standards, lows or governmental regulations. 30. Are you a member of an organization/association? How does it help you? We are member of WWA. It contributes to our promotion worldwide and additionally we receive information on current innovations,, management policies and latest news in the industry. 31. How do you position the park? Action Aquapark offers water attractions for each taste and age.

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Appendix 14: Figures of findings from the questionnaires 1) Demographic profile of respondents
Sex Frequency 449 674 1123 5 1128 Percent 39,8 59,8 99,6 ,4 100,0 Valid Percent 40,0 60,0 100,0 Cumulative Percent 40,0 100,0

Valid

M F Total

Missing Total

System

Age Frequency 127 309 270 275 87 30 1098 30 1128 Percent 11,3 27,4 23,9 24,4 7,7 2,7 97,3 2,7 100,0 Valid Percent 11,6 28,1 24,6 25,0 7,9 2,7 100,0 Cumulative Percent 11,6 39,7 64,3 89,3 97,3 100,0

Valid

Up to 17 18-25 26-35 36-45 46-55 Over 55 Total

Missing Total

System

Children aged below 12 in household Frequency 721 217 155 29 2 3 1 1128 Percent 63,9 19,2 13,7 2,6 ,2 ,3 ,1 100,0 Valid Percent 63,9 19,2 13,7 2,6 ,2 ,3 ,1 100,0 Cumulative Percent 63,9 83,2 96,9 99,5 99,6 99,9 100,0

Valid

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 Total

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Nationality Frequency 421 14 41 86 14 24 32 5 193 6 4 26 10 19 20 34 27 43 2 79 1100 28 1128 Percent 37,3 1,2 3,6 7,6 1,2 2,1 2,8 ,4 17,1 ,5 ,4 2,3 ,9 1,7 1,8 3,0 2,4 3,8 ,2 7,0 97,5 2,5 100,0 Valid Percent 38,3 1,3 3,7 7,8 1,3 2,2 2,9 ,5 17,5 ,5 ,4 2,4 ,9 1,7 1,8 3,1 2,5 3,9 ,2 7,2 100,0 Cumulative Percent 38,3 39,5 43,3 51,1 52,4 54,5 57,5 57,9 75,5 76,0 76,4 78,7 79,6 81,4 83,2 86,3 88,7 92,6 92,8 100,0

Valid

British Polish Irish German Danish Scottish Finnish Hungarian Bulgarian Slovakian Slovenian Czech Dutch Swedish Welsh Serbian Norway Russian Turkish Other Total

Missing Total

System

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2) Holiday patterns of respondents


For how many days are you already in Bulgaria? Frequency 334 185 312 221 2 20 1074 54 1128 Percent 29,6 16,4 27,7 19,6 ,2 1,8 95,2 4,8 100,0 Valid Percent 31,1 17,2 29,1 20,6 ,2 1,9 100,0 Cumulative Percent 31,1 48,3 77,4 98,0 98,1 100,0

Valid

1-3 4-6 7-10 11-15 16-23 Over 23 Total

Missing Total

System

With whom are you here? Frequency 624 134 215 7 980 148 1128 Percent 55,3 11,9 19,1 ,6 86,9 13,1 100,0 Valid Percent 63,7 13,7 21,9 ,7 100,0 Cumulative Percent 63,7 77,3 99,3 100,0

Valid

Family Boy/girlfriend Friends On my own Total

Missing Total

System

What are your activities during your holiday? Responses N Valid Going to the beach/pool Visiting historic and cultural places of interest Bar and disco crawl 1027 433 464 Other (please state) Shopping Total 178 2102 Percent 48,9% 20,6% 22,1% 8,5% 100,0% Percent of Cases N 92,5% 39,0% 41,8% 16,0% 189,4%

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3) Perceptions of a water park and past experience


Have you ever been to a water park before? Frequency 283 835 1118 10 1128 Percent 25,1 74,0 99,1 ,9 100,0 Valid Percent 25,3 74,7 100,0 Cumulative Percent 25,3 100,0

Valid

No Yes Total

Missing Total

System

Where have you ever been to a water park before? Responses N Valid USA Sunny beach Spain Gran Caneria Tunesia Germany Portugal Sweden Primorsko France Cyprus Turkey Plovdiv Dominican republic Italy England Malta Greece Slovakia other Total 130 90 268 31 7 17 24 7 1 17 41 76 2 6 29 56 6 36 6 258 1108 Percent 11,7% 8,1% 24,2% 2,8% ,6% 1,5% 2,2% ,6% ,1% 1,5% 3,7% 6,9% ,2% ,5% 2,6% 5,1% ,5% 3,2% ,5% 23,3% 100,0% Percent of Cases N 16,8% 11,6% 34,5% 4,0% ,9% 2,2% 3,1% ,9% ,1% 2,2% 5,3% 9,8% ,3% ,8% 3,7% 7,2% ,8% 4,6% ,8% 33,2% 142,8%

Why did you decide to visit a water park? Responses N Valid I looked for something entertaining and emotional I am bored of the beach I like those type of attractions Because the child/children wanted Total 347 83 596 428 1454 Percent 23,9% 5,7% 41,0% 29,4% 100,0% Percent of Cases N 31,3% 7,5% 53,8% 38,7% 131,3%

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What do you associate a water park with? Responses N Valid A place for children A place for amusement with friends A place to escape from the ordinary world A place full of emotions, fun and entertainment Total 395 405 142 642 1584 Percent 24,9% 25,6% 9,0% 40,5% 100,0% Percent of Cases N 36,3% 37,2% 13,1% 59,0% 145,6%

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4) Customers perception of Action Aquapark


What did you expect when you first have heard Action Aquapark? What do you associate the name with? Percent of Responses Cases N Valid Fun in the water waterpark water attractions action emotional experience bigger park utilities for older persons happy children lots of things to do Movie Something new Exactly the same Total 371 212 141 172 71 23 2 5 30 1 14 6 1048 Percent 35,4% 20,2% 13,5% 16,4% 6,8% 2,2% ,2% ,5% 2,9% ,1% 1,3% ,6% 100,0% N 43,4% 24,8% 16,5% 20,1% 8,3% 2,7% ,2% ,6% 3,5% ,1% 1,6% ,7% 122,6%

Why did you choose Action Aquapark? Responses N Valid It is near Sunny Beach It is easily accessible Because it offers high-adrenalin slides It was recommended by the tour operator It was recommended by friends I liked the image of the Aquapark in the brochure I liked the image of the Aquapark in internet Other Total 616 363 221 265 206 311 Percent 29,4% 17,3% 10,5% 12,6% 9,8% 14,8% Percent of Cases N 55,8% 32,9% 20,0% 24,0% 18,7% 28,2%

55 59 2096

2,6% 2,8% 100,0%

5,0% 5,3% 189,9%

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How do you know about Action Aquapark? Frequency Valid From the tour operator/ travel agency From the hotel reception From brochures From other advertisements (please state) From friends' recommendations From internet Total Missing Total System 347 121 413 94 117 19 1111 17 1128 Percent 30,8 10,7 36,6 8,3 10,4 1,7 98,5 1,5 100,0 Valid Percent 31,2 10,9 37,2 8,5 10,5 1,7 100,0 Cumulative Percent 31,2 42,1 79,3 87,8 98,3 100,0

Did the park fulfil your expectations? Frequency 944 157 1101 27 1128 Percent 83,7 13,9 97,6 2,4 100,0 Valid Percent 85,7 14,3 100,0 Cumulative Percent 85,7 100,0

Valid

Yes No Total

Missing Total

System

Why did not the park fulfil your expectations? Responses N Valid Cold water The size of the park Bigger expectations It was better before Bad service Bad weather Bad food Lack of safety No junior slide Too expensive Too loud music Total 8 31 71 2 1 9 2 2 3 5 3 137 Percent 5,8% 22,6% 51,8% 1,5% ,7% 6,6% 1,5% 1,5% 2,2% 3,6% 2,2% 100,0% Percent of Cases N 6,1% 23,7% 54,2% 1,5% ,8% 6,9% 1,5% 1,5% 2,3% 3,8% 2,3% 104,6%

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Any suggestions, comments and recommendations that would help the management to improve the Aquaparks service? Percent of Responses Cases N Valid no suggestions more attractions more food suitable music faster slides safety precautions/better work of the safeguards better services better cleaning more entrances promotions lower prices more advertisement attractions for disabled persons dolphins/animal show free beer warmer water better/funnier attractions easier ways to pay more toilet other Total 111 249 34 9 8 52 94 15 7 8 77 2 3 8 1 28 18 7 8 71 810 Percent 13,7% 30,7% 4,2% 1,1% 1,0% 6,4% 11,6% 1,9% ,9% 1,0% 9,5% ,2% ,4% 1,0% ,1% 3,5% 2,2% ,9% 1,0% 8,8% 100,0% N 15,8% 35,5% 4,9% 1,3% 1,1% 7,4% 13,4% 2,1% 1,0% 1,1% 11,0% ,3% ,4% 1,1% ,1% 4,0% 2,6% 1,0% 1,1% 10,1% 115,5%

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5) Correlation analysis
Why did you decide to visit a water park? British Responses N Valid I looked for something entertaining and emotional I am bored of the beach I like those type of attractions Because the child/children wanted Total 73 29 227 228 557 Percent 13,1% 5,2% 40,8% 40,9% 100,0% Percent of Cases N 17,7% 7,0% 55,1% 55,3% 135,2%

Why did you decide to visit a water park? Bulgarian Responses N Valid I looked for something entertaining and emotional I am bored of the beach I like those type of attractions Because the child/children wanted Total 94 11 90 51 246 Percent 38,2% 4,5% 36,6% 20,7% 100,0% Percent of Cases N 49,2% 5,8% 47,1% 26,7% 128,8%

What do you associate a water park with? British Responses N Valid A place for children A place for amusement with friends A place to escape from the ordinary world A place full of emotions, fun and entertainment Total 232 198 50 206 686 Percent 33,8% 28,9% 7,3% 30,0% 100,0% Percent of Cases N 56,4% 48,2% 12,2% 50,1% 166,9%

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What do you associate a water park with? Bulgarian Responses N Valid A place for children A place for amusement with friends A place to escape from the ordinary world A place full of emotions, fun and entertainment Total 22 60 23 140 245 Percent 9,0% 24,5% 9,4% 57,1% 100,0% Percent of Cases N 11,8% 32,3% 12,4% 75,3% 131,7%

Why did you choose Action Aquapark? British Responses N Valid It is near Sunny Beach It is easy accessible Because it offers high-adrenalin slides It was recommended by the tour operator It was recommended by friends I liked the image of the Aquapark in the brochure I liked the image of the Aquapark in internet It is near Sunny Beach Total 288 176 61 112 55 123 Percent 34,2% 20,9% 7,2% 13,3% 6,5% 14,6% Percent of Cases N 69,4% 42,4% 14,7% 27,0% 13,3% 29,6%

14 14 843

1,7% 1,7% 100,0%

3,4% 3,4% 203,1%

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Why did you choose Action Aquapark? Bulgarian Responses N Valid It is near Sunny Beach It is easy accessible Because it offers highadrenalin slides It was recommended by the tour operator It was recommended by friends I liked the image of the Aquapark in the brochure I liked the image of the Aquapark in internet It is near Sunny Beach Total 50 36 59 9 69 30 Percent 17,4% 12,5% 20,6% 3,1% 24,0% 10,5% Percent of Cases N 26,9% 19,4% 31,7% 4,8% 37,1% 16,1%

12 22 287

4,2% 7,7% 100,0%

6,5% 11,8% 154,3%

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