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Hong Kong Disneyland’s David Chin: Measuring Success

The theme park market is growing rapidly across Asia and the world’s biggest operator, Disney, is seeing record attendance in the region.

With Shanghai Disneyland on course for a 2015 opening and the recent announcement that Disney’s first Marvel ride will be at Hong Kong Disneyland, it looks like another exciting year for the Mouse. 

Hong Kong Disneyland has seen the opening of three new hugely popular themed areas – Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch and Mystic Point- over the past 18 months. Corporate bookings for Halloween are up three times on last year alone and with the huge success of these new additions, Damien Lee, the park’s new VP Operations recently said he is confident that the year ending September 30th will see more admissions then in any previous year.  China is at the epicentre of the david chin director consumer insight marketing at hong kong disneyland industry’s growth and it is no coincidence that Disney chose Hong Kong as the launch pad for its first ride based on a Marvel character, set to open in 2016.

We caught up with Hong Kong Disneyland’s Director, Consumer Insights, Marketing, David Chin (left) to talk marketing and visitors.  A seasoned market research and planning professional, with huge experience  in driving fact-based, consumer insights to support strategy development and enabling profitable marketing programs at execution level, David has a strong track record across China and Hong Kong in turning consumer unmet needs into business ideas and profitable propositions.

What is your background, how did you get into the attractions industry?

Originally from Hong Kong and educated in Canada, my previous job positions have been mostly related to market research, strategic planning and product development – having lived and worked in Canada, United States, Shanghai and most recently Beijing before returning to Hong Kong. I was headhunted for a position at Hong Kong Disneyland . This is how I was introduced into this family of magic and fantasy in 2009 and joined the attractions industry.

When you joined HKD what was your role and how has it developed?

I joined Hong Kong Disneyland originally responsible for market research with projects focused upon supporting the marketing team. As the role continued to develop, I have been accountable in other areas including in park measurement, consumer database analytics and planning, in addition to traditional market research areas.

Babyhead at Toy Story Land hong kong disneyland halloween 2013

What is your current role?

Currently, as Director of Consumer Insights, Marketing, my responsibilities include all aspects of market research, consumer database analytics, research planning and methodical assessment and protocol development. Due to the unique nature of Hong Kong Disneyland, the involved industries include tourism, theme park, hotel, food and beverage and merchandising / retailing.hong kong disneyland logo
HKD had record attendance last year, what do you put this down to?

The record-breaking theme park attendance, hotel occupancy and guest spending levels in fiscal year 2012 were driven by the launch of two new themed areas, Asia’s first Toy Story Land and the one-of-its-kind Grizzly Gulch, as well as special entertainment offerings such as Disney’s Haunted Halloween, Toy to the World, Year of the Dragon Chinese New Year Celebration and the Star Guest Program.

This was the result of joint efforts from collaboration with multiple parties including all departments in Hong Kong Disneyland, our US Headquarter support, our partners in various industries and the government, as well as meticulous planning and relentless effort in seamless execution.

Monsters University at Hong Kong Disneyland 600

Who are your guests and how has this changed over time? 

Traditionally, our guests come from 3 major origins: (a) local Hong Kong (about 30%); (b) mainland China (about 45%); and (c) International (about 25%)which compose largely of South East Asian guests including Australia and India. As mainland China tourists become more mature and advanced in their travel needs andgrizzly gulch rollercoaster hong kong disneyland travel to Hong Kong, we see a continued increase in mainland China tourists beyond the first and second tier cities.

Has Grizzly Gulch been successful? 

Like the other two new themed areas, Toy Story Land and the recently-launched Mystic Point, Grizzly Gulch has been a huge hit among our guests.  Our guest survey has shown that the Grizzly Gulch Runaway Mine Cars (right) have become the most favourite attraction among  our guests since its launch in July 2012. 

Our guests enjoy the immersive and unique experiences that can only be found at Disney parks and resorts. 

In the West, in-park spending in theme parks comes to around 50% of income, whereas in Asia it is around 10%.  What is your strategy to increase in-park spending?

In my opinion, continue to understand our guests’ needs and addressing their needs is the first priority, and through meeting our guests’ needs they will be responsive to our various product offerings.  

Our experience has shown that F&B and merchandise have been part and parcel of the entire Disney experiences.  Over the last few years, we have increased the proportion of themed F&B and merchandise offerings to tie in with our seasonal events and the strategy has proven to be very successful. 

2013 Disney’s Haunted Halloween castle at hong kong disneyland

How do you measure guest satisfaction? 

We have formal, regular measurements undertaken on a daily basis to measure guest satisfaction through gauging their experience during their visit in our resort.  Social media continues to be one of the major influences, particularly amongst the younger generation within the guest mix.

How do you see consumer expectations developing for HKD in the future and what’s your strategy to meet them?

We continue to monitor the external environment, industry developments and consumer trends, and anticipate changes in consumer needs whereby we apply the learning to our planning process and make consequential adjustments to our business plans and offerings.  Like any other business, the key is to provide the best offerings and services to the consumers, and develop a point of difference which would make our resort unique and relevant to our guests.

All images kind courtesy Hong Kong Disneyland. From the top:

1. Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, (centre), Bill Ernest, President and Managing Director, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Asia (left) and Andrew Kam, Managing Director of Hong Kong Disneyland Resort (right) at the Iron Man launch.

2. David Chin, Director, Consumer Insight, Marketing, Hong Kong Disneyland

3. Babyhead” from the Toy Story movie at Disney's 2013 Haunted Halloween

4.  Monsters University, Summer 2013 Hong Kong Disneyland

5. Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts (front row, right); Bill Ernest, President and Managing Director, Asia Walt Disney Parks and Resorts (front row, left); Joe Lanzisero, Senior Vice President, Walt Disney Imagineering – Creative (second row, right); Andrew Kam, Managing Director, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort (second row, left); Bruce Vaughn, Chief Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering (third row, right); Ali Rubinstein, Creative Director, Walt Disney Imagineering Hong Kong (third row, left); and others enjoy the runaway adventure of the unique and innovative Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars.

6.  Disney's 2013 Haunted Halloween at Hong Kong Disneyland

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