Increasingly popular, amusement parks are proving to be unique destinations, combining immersive live-experiences with diversified accommodation offers. We spoke about this with the professionals from Gardaland, one of Italy's leading amusement parks in Europe, which recently confirmed its presence at BIT24.
In the wake of the latest data from the SIAE 2022 Yearbook, presented on 12 October in Rome, amusement parks are emerging as a strongly evolving market in Italy: with 72% year-on-year growth, the sector closed 2022 at 18,463,628 visitors. Public spending on a national scale reached +75% on 2021 figures and +10.9% on 2019 figures, thus showing the excellent potential of the sector.
After all, “Made in Italy” is also well represented in the manufacturing of the equipment, which according to ANCASVI - the national representative of amusement park ride manufacturers - positions Italy as the European leader in the production of rides, with 98% of the product being exported abroad.
We delved into the amusement park market with Gardaland, an Italian pioneer in the sector, which has become a unique resort over the years with its wide range of attractions and accommodation.
Last season, Gardaland sold more than 3 million admission tickets, which is again experiencing great public interest this year, especially from abroad, involving families or young visitors. Stefano Iannicelli, Head of Sales Gardaland said “Gardaland remains a popular park for both Italians and foreign guests this season, with 30% of the park's visitors coming from abroad”. Germany retains first place as the “Gardaland Lover” nation; in second place we find the Austrians and then the Swiss; followed by some Eastern European countries such as Slovenia and Croatia. Iannicelli continued, “Despite the fact that we encourage bookings with favorable rates, there is no real indication of future presences at the park, but the trend is positive. For example, the hotels achieved an occupancy rate of 98% in August”.
Gardaland’s strong point is a proposal that is versatile and adaptable to change, both in terms of attractions and infrastructure and services. Again, Iannicelli said, “Gardaland manages to innovate each year, always offering unforgettable and immersive experiences tailored to guests' needs. This makes it a top player in the entertainment industry in both Italy and Europe. With the addition of the three hotels, over the years it has become a tourist destination in its own right; of the 475 rooms available, 264 are fully themed. Guests will find entertainment, relaxation, culinary offers, excursions to nearby major cities and much more. Completing the offer is an Aquatic Park inside Gardaland completely themed with LEGO® and a SEA LIFE aquarium”.
After all, the connection with the local area and a wide-ranging dining proposal are an integral part of the offer, as Dario Bagnoli, Head of Commercial at Gardaland, points out: “The great challenge of park catering is to satisfy a public that is very heterogeneous in taste, needs and varied in spending capacity. that is why we are constantly studying trends and needs of our guests, also through market research and panel tests. We measure and monitor guest satisfaction parameters daily through various KPIs to ensure an ‘unforgettable’ dining experience at all times, often with dedicated and themed menus”.
Luca Marigo, Sales & Marketing Director and Alessandra Zanoni, Parks Operations Director explain that keeping up to date and analyzing trends are at the foundation of the success of a reality like Gardaland; which are also fundamental for the design of the attractions. “Launching a new attraction means elaborating a project that starts with "what and why are we doing this?", to the involvement of the Merlin Entertainments executive offices in England, and the evaluation of proposals that, based on requests, are formulated by Merlin Magic Making, the R&D department of a large company. At that point we check with market research whether that idea works and whether it can be optimized”. One example of this is the creation of Jumanji®-The Adventure, the attraction inaugurated in April 2022, aimed at depicting the highlights and most representative scenes of the famous box-office hit film by Sony Pictures Entertainments.
Each attraction or service at Gardaland is designed to tell a story or offer a unique experience, involving and exciting the visitor along the way. BIT24 will be an opportunity to delve into this new tourism frontier.