This is potentially great news. If the new owners paid attention to all the mistakes the previous owners made, they shouldn't have too much difficulty recouping their investment and then some.
If they want to reopen as soon as Memorial Day, does that mean they want to retain the Hard Rock Park branding? It seems to me like there's a lot they'd have to change if they were planning on dropping the brand...
Best of luck to the new owners (assuming the deal goes through). If they need any help figuring out how the last folks screwed up, feel free to register here on TPI and start a thread...
And Steve, your suggestion about starting a thread on TPI for advice...hilarious...but in a way, so true! I DO think we could help! ;)
But I say that with tongue firmly planted in cheek. What the creators of the park accomplished is really something. But they didn't seem to have an ability to change their game plan when it seemed like things were going south. They were slow to make changes that would have brought more money into the park, and that pigheadedness was the key to their undoing.
My suggestions for key promotions for HRP in 2009:
- Buy one day at full adult price, get the rest of the 2009 season for free [holidays blacked out].
- Offer an annual pass [next 12 months from purchase] at twice the full daily adult price, which includes free parking, 15 percent dining and merchandise discounts and no black-out dates.
- One-day tickets sold wholesale, 70 percent off face, to local hotels for the hotels to resell to their guests at half-off face. Hotel pockets the difference. [Guests can upgrade to 'rest of the season free' at the park for the extra 50 percent.]
- Kids (under 10) tickets at $10 each for one-day. $20 for the year. [No AP benefits, though.]
- TV and radio ad campaign in all markets bounded by Washington to Atlanta to Jacksonville.
- Online ad campaign for rest of the country.
- Adjust one-day adult price online as attendance dictates. [Keep it the same at the booth all summer, though.] Advertise online price cuts with instant online ad campaigns.
- Online vacation give-aways, in cooperation with Myrtle Beach tourism groups. Use the contest to build an online database of potential visitors for e-mail marketing.
Or, post a thread on TPI...as Steve has said, we're here to help!
What do you think the acronym stands for?
I suspect the MB stands for "Myrtle Beach." Guessing the other letters are the main players' last names.
People spend money in the park anyway, and thats the main profit maker (Jacked up soda prices, etc).
Gets the numbers in, people spread the word, option to buy an annual pass at the cost oof one day of entry, etc.
This is why Seaworld, busch, etc, offer the fun pass. f you didn't pay to get in on that day, you have more money to spend in the parks on stuff you wouldn't normally buy.
Get promotion too, free local (And National) press coverage of free days, word of mouth advertising.
Yes, it may seem stupid to let people in for free, but if you are offering people a deal they just can't refuse, they are moore than likely going to go.
Look at Universal Superbowl deal.How many people will make the trip there just because its free to get in? And when they do, they spend like crazy inside.
The two main things the park needs to do is lower ticket prices and work with local companies. Quite a few discounts have been mentioned, but I don't think they should (or will) go for 'buy 1 full price adult ticket and get the rest of the 2009 season free with holidays blacked out.' I think it would be better if they had a deal where if you buy 1 full price ticket you get as many more visits during your vacation free (including parking). I also don't think they should offer annual passes at twice the daily rate, it should not be somewhere between $90-120 and include parking and discounts on food and merchandise within the park.
All good ideas though, and hopefully this company can work things out and be successful. They just have to remember to work with local companies and have a creative (and effective) marketing strategy; unlike, the previous owners with the 'Winston for President' deal.
Note that I said "temporarily." They need to be added to provide a little more to do, but once the park gets back on its feet they need to start making plans to get those temporary rides out (or get them themed up and make them permanent).
And if the new investors can't afford to take a financial hit for the next two or three years while they beef up the attraction quantity (and maintain the quality), then they shouldn't even be offering to make the purchase.
Of course, all this talk of what thematically works may be entirely academic. We don't know what the new owners' intentions are yet. They may choose to abandon the Hard Rock branding altogether. If that's the case, then anything goes...
(by the way, I certainly wasn't advocating for a roundup or a scrambler. I'd love to something like an ARM drop tower in the spot currently wasted on the Phonehenge stage (or a double shot, I'm not picky). All they were doing with it last season was a magic show that no one cared about.)
If they get the entrance price under control, I'm not going to be as concerned about the number of attractions. But again, that was the number one complaint about the park - there just wasn't enough there to do. The second complaint was that it was too expensive for the number of attractions. Maybe taking care of the second problem will reduce the first, but until the new folks step out of the closet, this is all conjecture.
The update to the reports of FPI MB being the new owner had an interesting twist mentioning that a world-renowned theme park management company has been retained. I think we can rule out most U.S. based operators who are either having their own difficulties or wouldn't be interested in just operating a park instead of owning it outright. The exception would be PARC management who would be back in the picture after kicking the tires during the initial bankruptcy auction last December.
Regardless I am very interested in how quickly a company could close the deal and begin planning for opening day. I'm an unemployed former theme park manager who would love to take on the challenge of rebranding and reopening that park.
Also the updated story on Myrtle Beach Online (http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/679/story/779547.html) mentions that a second ownership group is coming forward with a bid. From the story: "Mark Lazarus, who owns Wild Water and Wheels in Surfside Beach, said he's working with a group of investors _ some local and some from out-of-town _ that plans to submit an offer for the bankrupt theme park before the week is out.``We've been putting a plan together, but have not submitted anything to the trustee,'' he said."
I'd be much happier with the former bidder considering how Wild Water and Wheels is a very small attraction more akin to a FEC than a full scale theme park so I'm not sure that Mark Lazarus would have the expertise to operate HRP.
Also, regardless of who buys the park the Hard Rock branding will disappear. HRC International wants to wash their hands of this perceived failure.
If I were Hard Rock Corp., I'd want one of my business partners to either A) buy or assume control of this thing and turn it around or B) buy or get control of this thing and get my name off it before it goes to public humiliation of a liquidation auction.
Didn't I tell you all that this park isn't dead? There's way too much potential for it to simply die. I suspected that somebody would swoop in at the last minute to get the deal of the century, and it appears that I was right. 25 million bucks for a brand new 400 million dollar theme park is a steal. Hopefully the financing goes through.
One question is this. Will they keep the Hard Rock theme? It costs a lot of money for the license, although I (the third fan on the site) thought that they pulled it off very well. The park had "personality", and was entertaining. The one thing that it lacked was rides.
I agree that it's a bad idea to stuff in a bunch of midway rides and trash the great design that was started, but something has to be done to beef up the ride lineup. Perhaps a high capacity flat ride like a drop tower would do the trick. The shows are some of the best I've seen, as is the service and the food. Frankly, there isn't a whole lot that they need to change, except the amount of people coming through the gates.
My thoughts are this. Bring back everyone but the upper management and the marketing department. The park is a great product, but was poorly marketed and horribly managed in the money department. The designers, entertainment department (not sure if they were outsourced), and the workers and managers who made the park run had it right. Bring prices down, promote to the regional market in addition to the tourist market, and be good to passholders. Above all....get people inside the gates, at all costs.
I travel frequently to Myrtle Beach to monitor real estate projects I own in that market. I also spend leisure time in that area with my children and extended family. Along with addressing the entry cost, here is something the new owners should consider - Hard Rock is not a family friendly brand.
Most kids today are not that familiar with the hippy era that spawned Hard Rock. For a family with children under 12, the themes at Hard Rock can be difficult to discuss with kids. For instance, how do you explain why they call it a Magic Mushroom? I know this sounds lame for adults who have been imersed in that culture, but my guess is that the predominate demographic that visits Myrtle Beach is probably not interested in the the Hard Rock theme.
Well worth remembering. Thanks.
As for suggestions, here's a few:
1) Strike directly at any lingering negative cost perception. Yes, lower admission price. But also take a page from Holiday World and offer free parking, free soda (even if, like Holiday World, you need to add a couple bucks to your already-lowered ticket cost to offset any out of pocket).
2) Understand that people come to the beach to go to the beach. Make your park THE PLACE to visit after dark. offer a 7-day after-6pm pass for the cost of a full day's admission. Advertise this heavily on every road into Myrtle Beach.
3) Continue with that thought: Really make nighttime awesome at HRP. Add a second lagoon show to complement Bohemian Rhapsody. Bring out all kinds of entertainment in the evenings. Introduce some gimmick like PI's New Year's Eve party that keeps folks in your gates longer.
4) Take advantage of those bodies in the park and sell, sell, sell.
5) Add a kick-ass mini golf attraction and a haunted house. Give folks a reason to pass those boardwalk attractions and visit you instead.
6) Build some after 6pm attraction that is performer-based. Think of Adventurer's Club-meets-dead Rock n' Rollers. Celebrity impersonators are everywhere.
7) Create some guerilla marketing initiatives. Back in the day, it seemed so brazen when a little biplane bould buzz WDW pulling a Rosie O'Grady's banner. Okay, so now it's the 21st century. Get crazy.
8) Get the locals in your gates. They will sustain you through the valleys and, if you do your job right, make you feel loved.
9) Build a Bob Dylan attraction.
10) Market yourself as the NEW Hard Rock Park.
I don't think the park should go "kiddie" by any means, but the new owners definitely need to cater toward the lucrative family market...in the case of the night time show, perhaps cutting a few lyrics wouldn't hurt...or picking a different song, or having an earlier show for families and a later show for just adults. Lots of options, but the family should be considered.
Keep posting Randy, I like the way you are thinking!