The Alton Towers experience

One of the most difficult businesses  to have is that of entertainment, there are variations in time and place of what entertainment can be and to different age groups and people.

As it’s sometimes the case, it is good to change the way we learn and take learning out of the class room into the real world. This time it was to Alton Towers in Staffordshire, UK. Final year accounting students of the university of Northampton spent the day at the park.

Many years ago, Alton Towers was seen as a place where toddlers and young children went for entertainment, with the older ones and the adults in tow watching the younger ones having fun. Now, just like Disney, they have realised that adults also want to have fun and relive their childhood. As the old saying goes, “ we grow old because we stop doing those things that made us feel young”.

The business of entertainment was about strategy, behind the fun and games lay a very serious business, one that needs constant repositioning, rebranding, strategic placements and a drive to continue to innovate with new rides to meet the ever increasing need of the adrenaline driven people.

The need for innovative new rides driven by R&D was necessary for customers and the branding of Alton Towers. The business also has the ability to flex their staff and operational requirements based on local needs and the weather.

For a business that relies so much not only on season but the time people want to relax, it is constantly moving into new territory to bring as many people as possible into the large estate. On the day we visited, there were many schools on visits. We spent an hour listening to their business strategies and marketing plans, which many MBA students would have found beneficial.  We then went on to enjoy some of the entertainments on offer, but even as the rain fell outside, we were drawn into the coffee stalls and the restaurant to spend money.

Despite the weather, some of the people who enjoyed the entertainments were not only the young and brave students, but matured students ( some parents who otherwise would have been straddled with looking after their young ones if they visit the park) and the teachers as well. It was a chance for us to relax and be kids again.

The lesson from Alton Towers; continuous innovation is critical in bringing old customers back and attracting new ones, widening the customer base, making the business more user friendly by offering services to others at a lower price during quiet times. The company was also gracious in admitting their faults when accidents happened in the past and have bounced back from disastrous incidents that could have threatened their reputation as a safe place for people to have fun.

Alton towers is seen as a place to escape the ordinary life, but just in case you thought it was all fun and games, we learnt about their revenue, investment decisions, return on investments and most importantly, the importance of marketing and operational deliveries.

As for me, I also had a chance to see my students in a different light, bond with them and we took some great pictures. I hope it will help us in the classrooms.

Dr. Ade Otukoya B.Sc, LLB, FCCA, MBA, PhD

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