The IAAPA Euro Attractions Show 2017 is over and with this being my first time and all allow me to elaborate on my impressions and experiences of a couple of very interesting days.
Being the new guy at Mobaro Park (five months so far) and being a complete novice in the amusement park and attractions industry, it was of cause with a lot of undefined expectations that I Monday morning left for Berlin and the EAS. The purpose of my participation was to be introduced to one of the major yearly IAAPA events as well as to a lot of different people connected to the industry. That, and of cause sponging up all the impressions I mentally could carry.
Monday night Mobaro Park and XL Catlin were hosting a dinner at the historical Lutter & Wegner in the middle of Berlin for 20 old and new friends all with a stake in the industry. Far from all had previously been introduced and besides from my colleagues I knew exactly nobody. What I quickly realized was, that even though a large part of the group were strangers to one another in some way they weren’t. Within an hour and before we even sat down, the conversations and laughs were similar to the ones of a yearly reunion party that had been repeated for 30 years. And I of cause felt like I had been gatecrashing a very private party, but differently from the memories of a couple of incidents from my high school years in the early 90’s, I can’t remember meeting a nicer crowd that within no time made me feel very welcome.The splendid surroundings, the food, and the wine did its part of cause, but heading back to the hotel sometime during the late hours I had the feeling, that I had been part of a very special evening in a very special company.
Tuesday was the first day of the EAS and besides from experiencing what the expo was all about, I had planned to participate in the afternoon digital conference track “Digital Transformation – bridging the analogue world with digital” before the evenings grand opening reception at the Charlottenburg Palace.
The speakers included representatives from Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Mack Media, Liseberg, Disneyland Paris and Compagnie des Alpes and was mainly focused on how digitalization can enhance the customer experience, add value, and save time and money.
Some of the buzzwords that kept being repeated included digitization, customization, simplification, personalization and gaining all the insights through big data. With a background in the media industry where these words have been spoken for many years, I was actually very positively surprised and impressed with the initiatives presented and how far in the digital process these parks and corporations actually are – I must emphasize that these guys are doing a terrific job.
One thing I noticed though was, that nobody mentioned digitalization from an internal perspective. How far are companies within the industry with digitalizing maintenance and safety operations, what are the potentials and how can these actions affect the overall outcome? Gaining insights by collecting data and using digitalization as a tool to add value and saving time and money are definitely not only beneficial from a customer point of view, but can also help the companies optimizing on many levels and within many different areas.
Collecting data and digitalizing processes and operations from within your company can help you optimize on safety operations, resource allocation, track down time, time spent, identify weak spots and new opportunities, enhance cost sustainability and so on and so forth – the digital sky is the limit. You can get far by focusing on you customer experience and the external perspective, but you can get twice as far by adding the internal perspective and start from the inside of your organization. It would have been very interesting to ad this perspective to the overall discussion, but perhaps next time.
The Opening reception at the Charlottenburg Palace took place Tuesday night and once again I found myself in a crowd of people all seeming to know each other. They didn’t of cause, but the atmosphere and kindness present in the historical buildings were pretty unique, and I had a great time being introduced to a lot of interesting people and listening to anecdotes while zipping cold beer.
Flying home the next day I could conclude on a couple of things. I don’t think I have ever met so many nice, friendly and sympathetic people gathered in the same place, which actually says a lot of this industry I am now working in. As a couple of my new friends said, when I in more than one occasion expressed my enthusiasm; “We are all working with one purpose in mind – making people happy and showing them the best possible time”, and I guess that says it all. As a final quote to this story I was also told by different people more than once; “Christian – If you are still here in a year, you are in this industry for life”. Well, we have to wait and see about that, but it all sounds pretty good to me.