Following in the footsteps of the major American theme parks, Australia’s own parks from the Gold Coast, Sydney & Perth are taking part in recognising their biggest fans with a new Pure Action Magic Pass Association, simply known as PAMPA for short.
Sandy Bridges, Senior Brand Manager at Adventure World noted “PAMPA follows the likes of say American Coaster Enthusiasts, where for the first time the brand loyalists that come to our parks here in Australia really get the same acknowledgement and engagement they would get elsewhere overseas.”
“…a long time coming.”
“It’s been a long time coming,” Tony Templeton, digital director at Sea World mentioned. “We’ve been genuinely noting just how much free and positive press we’ve gotten from this group of individuals over a decade now who, in a lot of cases, know the parks better than some of the employees, which is saying a lot.”
In the coming months, Australian theme parks are set to introduce initiatives to help strengthen the relationship between their most passionate guests and the parks themselves. “We’re definitely taking a lot of cues from the industry’s leaders (Disney, Cedar Fair, Merlin & Six Flags to name a few) and how they really form genuine connections to their fans, and doing great events like ERT (Extended Ride Time) events much like the West Coast Bash in the US are at the core of it,” Tony continued. “Even just acknowledging them and creating a dialogue I believe is key to our creating more passionate, enthusiastic fans in the future, which has been proven time and time again to be profoundly more effective and cost-efficient from a marketing perspective than the likes of traditional advertising.”
The stats behind the shift
Recent articles from well known sites like inc.com acknowledge that Millenials (which by and large make up the overall make-up of the enthusiast community) continue to be the most brand loyal out of all age-specific demographics, and that the key to unlocking digital success is tapping into that market. It states “only 1 percent of Millennials say they are influenced in any way by advertising. This means that what the brand has to say about itself and its products is of little to no importance to this generation. What does work, however, is delivering authentic and quality experiences every time the customer has an interaction with your brand, no matter where the encounter happens. Whether it’s in-store, online, or on the phone with customer service, proving that customers are at the heart of everything the company does will keep them coming back for more.”
Parks like Wet ‘n’ Wild & Dreamworld were in agreement with just how important engaging with their core audience was as part of a healthy digital strategy in the years ahead. Diana Glossy, Chief Digital Officer at Dreamworld, elaborated on this, noting that “many other forward-thinking brands like Samsung are engaging directly with folks like Casey Neistat on YouTube to create loud, unique voices in channels where our message would otherwise go unheard or un-noticed. It’s definitely time for us to really appreciate the decades of hard work, support and realistically, really great free press that our loyalist fan-base give us, which, certainly by comparison to the American parks, don’t thank enough.”
The consensus from years of marketing research in other industries shows just how important brand loyalists are. As Forbes has noted, much of Apple’s success is derived from a passionate group of followers.
It mentions in its article “Firstly, you have to build relationships with your customers. And that means being trustworthy and transparent. You do that by embracing the Internet and social media. You can start blogging. You can talk directly to people on Twitter. You can use Facebook to show who’s behind your logo. All of that is obvious. A recent example which we experienced first hand was working closely with our clients at Pampers in the USA and interlinked with their internal social media team. There were challenges that were overcome through a smart strategy and the timely and relevant use of social media.”
It also touches on the same notes as inc.com, that “the real key to brand loyalty – you have to carry out some movement marketing. You have to stop telling people about what your company makes, and instead think about what you believe in. And what you believe in has to touch a nerve with your target market.”
A digital future for parks
Ultimately, in a world where traditional advertising is becoming less and less effective, theme parks the world over have started to acknowledge just how fortunate and incredible it is from a marketing perspective that their brand loyalists were already there all along giving them support and positive influence online. “You just can’t buy this level of support from a group of individuals” Cindy Fox, owner of Luna Park Sydney shared. “Any other industry, finding a community online, or even just a few voices that love your brand can be exhausting, expensive, or both. Pick any industry, and it costs anywhere between five to ten times more to find a new customer than it is to keep one. And our loyalists not only spend 67% more than our normal guests, but they’re the first to actively engage and educate others in the public in terms of our current offerings. It’s amazing, and we’d crazy to continue to take such a golden opportunity for granted. We’d be literally throwing money away.”
Tony finished the announcement today with a final remark, mentioning that “prior to us coming together to announce PAMPA, we were shocked to discover the kind of influence, traffic, and just overall great communication our enthusiasts were driving to our brand. In one instance, one website was able to take on the likes of News Corp to dispel rumours about our park, not once, but twice, and generate literally tens of thousands of views in a matter of hours. It’s just crazy how influential these folks are, and we just had no idea. I mean, we don’t even have a mobile-site for our theme parks at present, so when you consider that 42% of people book their tickets using their phones online, we really have a lot of work to do to understand the digital space in the months ahead.”
The PAMPA pass, including pricing and availability, will be available exclusively through OurWorlds in the coming months.