SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. announces signs of recovery as H1 2018 results show improved attendance, revenue and in-park spending. $150 million capex is promised for new attractions each year as part of an ambitious 3 year plan.
Attendance is up to 9.64 million guests in the first half of the year, from 8.93 million in the same period last year. The park attributes the increase to new pricing strategies, new marketing and communications initiatives and the anticipation of new rides and attractions. SeaWorld is set to open a Sesame Place theme park in the US, and a park in Abu Dhabi. The company says that poor weather in the first half of this year did have a negative impact. The weather slightly offset the positive factors.
Revenue is also up $609.1 million, compared to $560.1 million in the same period last year. The theme park attributes this to the strong increases in attendance and also in-park per capita spending. In-park per capita spending increased by 6.6%, from $24.65 to $26.28. Revenue was partially offset by lower admission per capita. Admission per capita decreased by 3.1%, going from $38.09 in this period last year, to $36.92. The company attributes this to new pricing strategies and visitation mix when compared to the first half of 2017.
The company has also announced a 3 year plan to drive increases in attendance and revenue per capita. Improved marketing strategies and more in-park opportunities and planned. In addition capex of $150 million per year is promised to attract visitors with new rides, attractions, shows and events in every park, in every year.
“Encouraged” by results
John Reilly, Interim Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., said, “As we enter the last few weeks of our peak summer season, we are encouraged that year-to-date results through July for attendance, season pass sales and total revenue have remained strong. We are seeing growth in attendance and revenue as a result of our new pricing strategies, enhanced communications activities and strong operational execution.
“In addition, our keen focus on cost savings and efficiencies is improving our margins. We are pleased with the positive guest reception of our new rides, attractions and events across our parks. Currently, our award winning Electric Ocean event has been in full swing at each of our SeaWorld parks and our Summer Nights event is operating at each of our Busch Gardens parks. Looking ahead, we have our popular Halloween and Christmas events that we are confident will continue to drive further attendance growth.”
CNN reports that the announcement has resulted in a surge to share prices. Shares shot more than 15% to a four-year high. SeaWorld’s stock is up more than 80% this year.
The company announced that it would be 350 jobs last year as part of an effort to shed $40 million in costs by the end of 2018.
In response to a changing public sentiment in the US, SeaWorld has shifted away from Orca breeding and theatrical shows. Instead, it is highlighting its role as a global leader in animal rescue, rehabilitation, release and research. Existing show pools and viewing areas have been redesigned into more naturalistic settings.
SeaWorld has now completed its “From Park to Planet” advertising and marketing campaign. This, along with price changes for season passes, appear to be some of the motivators for increased attendance.