There are many political factors playing a role in the amusement and theme park industry. In 1964, the United States Department of Agriculture created the Animal Welfare Act which required companies that have animals in exhibits to treat them fairly. Many parks within this industry have some kind of live animal show or exhibit. Animals in these parks must be licensed and inspected by the USDA to assure the animals are being treated properly and taken care of (USDA, 1992, p. 14-15). Also, many animal activist groups have pushed for more extensive laws regarding the treatment of animals. While this has helped push parks into finding and implementing improved methods of training and handling the animals, these groups will continue to add pressure whenever something goes awry. Consequently, these groups have pushed for boycotts from customers when an instance of animal abuse is revealed. It is imperative in this industry to go above and beyond in regard to the law in order to keep business as usual.
Another factor that plagues the industry is property taxes. With hundreds of acres making up amusement parks, finding ways to get around these taxes and pay less can be a great challenge. Many lawsuits have been filed to challenge the tens of millions of dollars worth of property taxes. Some theme parks have attempted to work around these taxes by putting cows on unused land surrounding the parks to be able to classify the area as farm land. While this has worked in the past, taxes have risen to new heights. This has led to new lawsuits being filed with claims of unfair land evaluations and appraisals. As property taxes rise and parks continue developing land for new amusements, their evaluations will surely rise to new heights, which will decrease profitability (CBS, 2017).
Level of consumers’ disposable income has a massive impact on the Amusement and Theme Park Industry. As the population’s disposable income increases, people are more likely to go on family trips, participate in outdoor activities and spend more money in general. As the disposable income increases the Amusement park industry sees an upward trend in income. Same goes for the opposite, as the income goes down income for the parks decreases.
Labor costs also affect the amusement and theme park industry. The state of the local economy in which the park is located can have an effect on the amount of labor costs that parks incur to operate. For example, if the minimum wage is raised in the area of the parks operation, the parks labor costs would go up and it would negatively affect the operating cost of the park as well as its net income. Healthcare provided to amusement park employees has a big impact on labor cost which directly affects a net income of a company. In 2010 the Affordable Care Act was implemented. This act caused labor costs to significantly increase due to companies paying for more extensive healthcare for the employees. The act had a major impact on the economy, including the amusement and theme park industry. Also, because a lot of the work required of amusement park and leisure activity employees is seasonal and very simple to perform, many employees in this industry do not have extensive training in other areas outside of the tasks that they are asked to perform on a shift-by-shift basis.
Many companies within the amusement park industry have multiple long-term fixed assets, short term loans for payroll and . Interest rates play a major role in how they finance these various assets which are critical to their company. As interest rates rise companies pay more to their interest bills which lowers their profit margins. Same goes for the opposite. If interest rates decrease, the profit margins rise due to the lower interest bill. Often times these companies have short term loans for payroll. These loans have interest rates tacked on which directly affects the payroll and interest expense a company incurs, eventually affecting their net income.
The amusement park and leisure activity industry is heavily influenced by a combination of several sociocultural factors. The social class and age distribution of the targeted consumer are the main drivers for the industry. Leisure activities typically see an increase when the economy is good and families are experiencing periods of financial stability or more disposable income, therefore spending more money on non-vital things like amusement park admission. Middle class families, typically with children somewhere between the ages of 10 to 19 years old, are the primary consumers that make up the majority of this segment. Other notable drivers are financially independent adults without children or with fewer financial responsibilities. This group typically has a higher disposable income and can afford amusement park tickets more frequently even in times of economic recession.
Labor in the amusement park industry can be a hard asset to fill. It can be difficult to find part time or seasonal employees for the seasons in which amusement parks operate. Not many people are willing to be a ride operator or concessions attendant in the blistering hot summer months. Amusement parks must provide some sort of incentives to attract and retain the right employees year after year. A primary source of employees are high school and college students home from school for the summer who want a typically low stress, less demanding job.
Another sociocultural driver that influences the amusement park and leisure activity industry is consumers and non-consumers attitudes toward animal and environmental conservation and the use of animals and undisturbed land for entertainment. There is a growing social movement of animal activists adopting the belief that animals should not be held in captivity or used for entertainment purposes. There is also a similar movement dealing with the use of land and the environment for new commercial ventures where many activists are against big companies buying and clearing land to build new facilities on. As these trends grow, amusement parks that feature animals in captivity or use animals for shows may see a decrease in ticket sales because many people may view these activities as unethical and will refuse to purchase tickets for admission.
Competitors are seeking new ways to develop and introduce technologies into their parks to give customers better experiences. Technology is constantly changing and improving, and taking advantage of different systems before other competitors do can create a competitive advantage. From virtual and augmented reality to artificial intelligence, the theme park industry is researching and exploring new avenues to attract customers to their parks. Also, the introduction of interactive displays and updated live shows give families reasons to come back. Presenting the same shows every year will get stale and give customers a reason to go somewhere else for their next vacation, while constantly updating technologies will help entice families to come year after year (Wyatt, 2019).
New technologies are also helping the design and development of new rides. Customers want higher and faster roller coasters, and innovation is the answer to supplying these rides while remaining safe. Providing new and exciting rides every few years that are unique to the company can help persuade families to go to one theme park over another.
The theme park industry also utilizes technology to obtain data from their customers. They are able to collect personally identifiable information such as credit card numbers and spending habits to be able to market and promote new products and attractions. “Big data” is finding its place in theme parks to track the customers to be able to better serve their needs and fulfill their wishes. These things can be tracked through theme park apps, credit cards, or wearable devices provided by the park. While some are concerned with these practices being creepy or invasive, the parks will continue to implement them to help their customers have an enjoyable time (Augur, 2016).
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