Case Study - Marketing Strategy for Alton Towers Resort

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Case study
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The Alton Towers Resort is a theme park resort located in Staffordshire countryside approximately 50 miles north of Birmingham and 50 miles south of Manchester (Alton Resort Park, 2017). The resort consists of UKs premier theme park, two themed hotels, a major conference centre, luxurious spa, tropical waterpark and themed golf course and is operated by Merlin Entertainment Group. The resort is readily accessible by rail via a train station at Stoke-on-Trent, which is located only 15 miles from the resort, and by road. The resort is made specially to suit the needs of families and to quench the thirst of thrill seekers. This paper conducts an external audit to the operation of Alton Towers Resort and formulates a report for marketing plan through PESTLE and SWOT analyses.

PESTLE Analysis

Political

Exit of UK from the EU

With the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, the number of visitors from outside the UK is expected to reduce. As the UK leaves the EU, movement of other Europeans into the UK will be restricted and this will proportionally decrease the tourists visiting the UK (Garner, 2016). Amusement parks and other tourist attractions will suffer a decrease in visitors.

Government Regulation

Amusement parks operate in an environment where government policies and regulations must be considered. The government will ensure that visitors to amusement parks are safe and secure. Through regulation, the government ensures that theme parks have sufficient safety mechanisms and well-trained employees to ensure that visitors are not maimed or killed in these parks.

Economical

Economic Development

Alton Towers Resort provides an economic boost for Staffordshire region and towns such as Stoke-on-Trent. With the resort receiving millions of visitors annually, local businesses such as hotels and restaurants receive more customers and thus make more revenue. International visitors are much more beneficial to larger cities such as Manchester and Birmingham which they use their airports to access the resort.

Exchange Rates

After the 2016 referendum, the value of the Sterling Pound plummeted against major currencies such as the US dollar and the Euro. With the depreciation, UK commodities became cheaper to foreigners. Alton Resort Parks visitors from outside the UK find it cheaper compared to other similarly priced resorts outside the UK.

Employment

People visit Alton Towers Resort mainly for entertainment. Like other entertainment avenues, Alton is always busier during holidays such as weekends and summer holidays. The business ensures that it has extra staff during these periods to ensure that the visitors are well-catered for. The theme park has to utilize seasonal employees to assist them in these busy periods (IAAPA, 2007). Fortunately, at this time, there is no shortage of labour to hire. The hiring of people also reduces unemployment.

Social

Consumer Attitudes

Consumer attitudes are always changing (Reynolds & Olson, 2001). Theme parks need to be able to satisfy the changing needs of their customers. With changing consumer needs, Alton Towers Resort should be able to adapt to changing consumer needs by introducing new attractions and rides. Alton Towers Resort has a record of evolving with consumer needs. Attractions are removed from the park when they are no longer relevant to consumer tastes. With the new rollercoaster codenamed SW8 which will be launched in 2018, Alton Towers Resort remains relevant to varying consumer needs.

Population and Age

Population and age of the population have a major influence either positively or negatively on business. The huge UK population is has a positive influence on the Alton Towers Resort. However, theme parks are more attractive to young children and teenagers. The resort has several rides made specifically for children and teenagers.

Social Influences

With the increase in the influence of social media, the Alton Towers Resort requires a social media presence. Social media is the most efficient method of communicating with teenagers. Alton Towers Resort has social media presence. Social influencers such as socialites, sports personalities, and movie stars are important for businesses targeting children and teenagers

Technological

Innovations

The Alton Towers Resort needs to keep innovating if it has to keep attracting many customers (Fisher, 1999). This has kept the theme introducing a new ride every few years. The SW8 ride will be introduced next year. The innovations are not just restricted to rides. For the 2017 season, the park introduced new attractions the Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom Ride and the Furchester Hotel Live Show to cater for families. Due to these innovations, the theme park remains relevant with changing times.

E-Business

Alton Towers Resort utilizes an online business model where clients can purchase tickets in advance. Customers are able to buy tickets from home which is more efficient than queueing at Alton for tickets. It also enables customers to pre-plan their visits. The online business model enables customers to check which rides are available and there are able to choose the rides which are most suitable to them.

Legal

Noise Pollution Lawsuit

The Alton Towers Resort has been sued due to high noise levels from the park. A couple from the Farley village who live approximately 100 yards from the park sue the park over the noise levels from the park. If the park loses the case against the couple, the will have to pay a hefty fee as damages or remove several rides from the park. The park has also received several noise abatement orders which have reduced fireworks displays shows in the park.

Safety Regulation Breach Fine

The Alton Towers Resort has also been fined due to breaching safety regulations. When an accident occurred in the park in 2015 in which sixteen people were injured, investigations found the park guilty of breaking safety regulations. Merlin Entertainment Group was fined 5M for the breach (Halliday, 2016). The negative publicity associated with this fine tarnished the image of the park and the operating company.

Environmental

Conservancy Area Restriction

The Alton Towers Resort is developed on a Conservation Area which restricts the height of buildings and rides. No buildings should be higher than the tree height in the resort. Restriction of ride heights is detrimental to the business as higher rides offer more thrill. The theme park has had to agree with the local council that any building or ride taller than the tree height should be sufficiently camouflaged to fit the surrounding landscape. The camouflage is prominent on the ride Rita which was disguised to fit in with the trees.

Noise pollution

The Alton Towers Resort holds firework shows and concerts (Alton Towers Resort, 2017). The noise from these shows is considered disruptive by the local residents. Due to the resorts proximity to Alton and Farley villages, the noise is a more serious concern. The theme park has been served several noise abatement orders and has had to decrease its firework shows.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths

The Alton Towers Resort has implemented a good online business presence. Its ability to sell tickets online is very appealing to its customers. The well-trained staff at the resort offer visitors a memorable experience at the park. The resort also offers a wide variety of attractions to satisfy different needs from different visitors. The resort also keeps inventing to keep in touch with the changing needs of its visitors. The availability of accommodation in the resort enables the resort to have multi-day guests and thus increased revenue.

Weaknesses

Poor safety measures that lead to accidents can be detrimental to the image of the resort. Constant wrangling with the residents neighboring over noise levels does not show a good business image to its potential visitors.

Opportunities

A strong social media presence and use of famous personalities to promote the resort can enable the resort to effectively reach its target customers. Young people are easily accessible via social media and social influencers use the social media to stay in touch with them. A weaker Sterling Pound can be an incentive to visitors from outside the UK as they spend less.

Threats

The exit of UK from the European Union is a threat to operations of Alton Towers Resort. The exit will reduce free movement of other Europeans into the UK and thus the customer base of the theme park will be reduced. The park may also experience a shortage of labor due to this restriction of movement. The fines due to safety breaches give out a negative image of the park and may discourage visitors. Lawsuits from the residents of Farley may have devastating consequences if lost.

Marketing Objectives

SMART market objectives must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed (Yull, 2008). The marketing strategy must focus on the strengths of the Alton Towers Resort and on the ability to increase volumes of visitors by attracting the untapped markets. With the resort being the largest theme park in the UK by size, it has the capability to be the market leader in location-based entertainment by leading in innovations and setting the trends in the industry. Through the operation of Merlin Entertainment Group, the Alton Towers resort can become the leading amusement park in the UK. By tapping the untapped market the number of visitors in the resort could be increased. The smart objective of the resort includes

To become the market leader in amusement park entertainment in three years.

To increase visitors by 10% in one year.

These objectives can be achieved through the following strategy:

Brand Marketing. It should focus on why Alton Resort is better than other competing theme parks by explaining how reliable Merlin Entertainment Group is. It should emphasize Merlin Group is associated with quality and unique experiences. The public need to be informed on the variety of experiences at Alton Resort and how professional the staff at the Merlin Group are. The public should be informed on how superior Alton Towers Resort is compared to other parks. Safety of the visitors should also be guaranteed. The park should also develop new attractions which act as pace-setters in the UK. This will improve consumers trust in Merlin Groups brand and welcome more visitors into the resort park. The resort can also offer promotions to improve its image.

Marketing Actions

The Alton Towers Resort needs to implement marketing actions to achieve its marketing objectives. It can utilize the following actions

Use of direct sales assistants. Direct sales assistants visit potential customers in their premises to inform them of the services offered by the resort. This is an efficient method as all queries by the potential visitors are answered promptly.

Use of mass media. Radios, television, and newspapers can reach millions of people in a day (Davies, 1997). Use of this mode enables the resort to reach millions of potential customers at once.

Promotions. These enable the use of price reduction to improve the brand image and welcome more customers. Promotions include giving family discounts, group discounts, and off-peak discounts to increase the number of visitors to the resort.

References

Alton Resort Park (2017). Student Information Pack.

Alton Towers Resort (2017). [online] AltonTowerss.com. Available at: https://www.altonTowerss.com/activities/events/fireworks [Accessed 23 Jun. 2017].

Davies, D. (1997). Chapter 5: The Press and Television. [online] Ocean.otr.usm.edu. Available at: http://ocean.otr.usm.edu/~w304644/ch5.html [Accessed 23 Jun. 2017].

Fisher, M. (1999). Alton Towers. Stafford: M.J. Fisher.

Garner, W. (2016). Would the UK Benefit from Leaving the EU at th...

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