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Albion Theme Park Ltd Strategic Plan
Albion Theme Parks started in the 1980s as a farm but later on proved to be popular with the local families and children who frequented the farm to interact with the animals as well as partake in other activities offered at the time such as milking, making cheese and riding on farm tractors and wagons (Lukas 2012; Miller 2012). By 1985, the farm had been converted into a fully-fledged theme park with various attractions and rides created around three themes inspired by British history: the Farmland which is a petting zoo and attraction where children can see and take part in some old farming crafts and techniques such as milking, St Georges Challenge which has rides and attractions that are themed around the legend of St George of England and Robin Hood’s Hideaway which is a wooded area that has an adventure playground. In the course of time, more rides and attractions have been added to the park, and they have all retained this established theme’s characteristics (Lukas 2012).
This report will seek to analyse and review the current market position of Albion Theme Parks and to set out recommendations and strategies that will not only ensure the continued survival of the park but also increase the efficiency and profitability of the park’s activities so as to encourage growth. The report will analyse both the external and internal factors of production that affect the park’s business and highlight any changes that need to be made in the business structure or operating practices so as to increase its profitability as well as encourage efficiency in the day-to-day running of the park.
Albion Theme Parks as with any other tourist attraction in the UK is affected by many external economic and social factors. These factors affect the profitability of a business, and unlike internal influences, the business may have little or no control over the trends or direction of external influences. However, a business can set up specific systems and policies that will allow them to use these external influences to their advantage, or if this is not possible, mitigate the negative impacts of these factors while retaining the positive (Leslie 2012). The two main external factors affecting the Albion Theme Parks are the prevailing socio-economic characteristics of its target market and the increase in competition in the tourist attraction and experience attraction market. These factors originate from outside the business and they change periodically due to factors that are not within the control of the business. However, with proper understanding of these factors and the development of good strategies for the business, these external factors can be put to the advantage of the business.
The global economy is still reviving from the 2008 financial crisis, and this has affected the tourism industry in the UK and globally (McLean & Nocera 2010). The amount of resources that people used to dedicate to leisure and recreation has reduced as these resources have been put to alternative use. This has seen a drop in the rate at which tourist numbers were growing and in some areas the numbers have even dropped (Taylor 2005). The amount of money tourists are spending on trips, food, souvenirs and concessions has also reduced, and this has led to a further drop in revenue for businesses in the tourism industry (McLean & Nocera 2010). With fewer funds available for recreation, tourists have become more selective with their destinations and their preferences have shifted to more quality, personalized and tailored experiences at the cheapest cost available.
Figure 1: Evolution of household discretionary income in the UK (2009-2011, in £ per household per week)
The demands from the target market have seen the business models used in previous years in the set up and management of theme parks and tourist attractions rendered ineffective or even obsolete (Vogel 2012). Customers are demanding higher quality services and experiences at affordable rates. This is evident in the Albion Theme Park where a lot of customers express dissatisfaction at the long queues and waiting times for the rides and attractions (Vogel 2012).
Government policy is another factor that influences the profitability and productivity of Albion Theme Parks. The government has increased the cost of regulation and taxes on the tourism and leisure industry, and this has had effects throughout the whole sector. The additional cost of operating with the UK government policies has been estimated to be over £3 billion per annum since 2010: about three percent of the industry’s total revenue for that year. This amount is set to rise to almost £4 billion by the year 2014. This increase in taxation means that the revenue from running a theme park will be reduced (Vogel 2012).
The travel and leisure industry in the UK has seen an increase in growth over the past few years. This has further been fuelled by investments from government, foreign and local investors (Simerson 2011). Several big companies have stated plans to set up amusement parks and theme rides in the country such as a theme park in Kent by Paramount studios in partnership with Disney and a proposed amusement park in Nottinghamshire County announced by the local council; to be themed around the legend of Robin Hood and his band of outlaws (Simerson 2011). These big budget investments show that the experience attraction industry, of which theme parks and amusement parks are the most popular, is growing steadily in the country and that there is a good prospect for return of investment in the industry.
The increase in the number of competitors both direct and indirect has affected the productivity of Albion Theme Parks (GruÌˆnig & KuÌˆhn 2011). The tourism industry in the UK is growing and there are many attractions, theme parks and other tourist sites that are being developed and these are in direct competition with Albion for visitors (Bonnici 2011). With a good transport and communication system such as in the UK, travelers have access to many locations all over the country and are taking advantage of their development to get the best experience suited for them. There is also a lot of indirect competition for Albion from other business models that are also geared towards delivery of unique and enjoyable experiences. Such models have been geared towards offering tourists with more personalized and catered for experiences as individuals or small groups and these are the traditional theme park clients (GruÌˆnig & KuÌˆhn 2011).
The internal analysis of Albion Theme Parks Limited reviewed the internal systems and activities that go on within the business on a day-to-day basis and whether these activities were producing the most efficient results for the company. The review of the administrative processes of the company showed that although the owner and former manager, Tom, had done a good job of setting up systems to run the farm, many of these were now proving to be obsolete in the current market. The fight between the two managers was another negative aspect of the administrative structure of the company (Taylor 2005). Constant fighting and a lack of clear delegation of responsibilities has led to a situation where important decisions were not being made efficiently, and the employees themselves had come to a point where they did not trust the authority of the appointed managers. These leadership factors affect the profitability of the business as it reduces the efficiency of work, meaning that either the services offered at the park will suffer delays or drop in the level of quality. With the lack of a good solid leadership, the overall efficiency and work ethic of the employees will gradually suffer (Taylor 2005). This can already be seen at Albion where the workers were noted to have low moral as well as little or no dedication to their work.
Another internal factor that affects the productivity of Albion theme parks is its infrastructure and the attractions it currently offers and also those it is planning to offer in the future. Currently, the introduction of a new roller coaster ride, The Dragon’s Tail, has improved the brand of the park: attracting many new visitors as well as repeat visitors. However, with the introduction of new rides and attractions, the logistical challenges increase with the number of people visiting these rides (Taylor 2005). This can be seen in the long lines and disgruntled visitors waiting to get on to the attractions.
The recommendations for improving the efficiency of Albion Theme Parks Limited focus mainly on the internal factors affecting the company. This is because it is over these that the management has influence or a degree of control over. Albion Theme Parks limited needs to set up a solid and well-thought management plan that has clear delegation of duties as well as a efficient hierarchy system that will allow for both vertical and horizontal communication and decision-making. With an improvement in the management system, there will be an increase in the employee morale and work ethic as they will be able to feel a better sense of ownership and belonging to the company. This is because they will be able to communicate their problems as well as suggestions to higher level management and the whole decision-making process will have them involved. The park should also focus on the improvement of the quality of service that they offer in terms of logistical issues as well as waiting times. Improving the quality of service that they provide will not only give their current clients a better experience, but will also improve the brand image of the company: effectively improving its market position. The company should also seek ways of cutting costs so as to cushion the blow dealt by government taxation and other fiscal policies. These cost cutting measures will free up more resources for development and company growth.
The leisure industry in the UK is a good investment opportunity especially for a business that has already set up and is ready and willing to grow and adapt to the market needs. The three factors that Albion Theme Park Limited management should have are:
- A strong focus on innovation: Keeping at the forefront of digital innovation to harness new Internet and mobile technologies (e.g. in mobile gaming, mobile money etc), and constantly investing in new products and experiences to keep the customer offering fresh meeting customers’ ever higher expectations for highly personalized service.
- Excellent brand management: To build genuine demand and rapport with their customers, and ensure sustained loyalty even as consumers grow more selective in their leisure spending (e.g. loyalty programmers and other customer reward programs).
- Exploiting international opportunities to push their products and brands – building on strong domestic performance to capture parts of the overseas leisure market.
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