Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by rob666, 16th Jan 2021.
That's average per guest including pass holders, not just people buying day tickets.
As above, the problem with the Merlin AP's & particularly the Alton-only Season Pass was they were just way too cheap. Merlin tolerated this when - Alton in particular - was still in recovery mode following the Smiler incident.
The Covid pandemic was the nail in the coffin for the "old" pass pricing structure. Merlin needed to attract guests with a higher on-park spending profile. Solution [as we know] was to severely restrict access for annual passes and allow more pre-book guests in, who may only visit once a year & spend more.
Back when I worked at Towers there was a well known saying "that the average guest spent as much on-park as they did on admission" (this was before the AP's really took big-time). I bet there are not many passholders, past or present that can openly admit every member of their party spent circa £25 on average on-park on each visit. I certainly never did - it was pint in the Tavern / Welcome Inn & that was it.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the passes. Merlin / Alton have form for announcing fairly severe changes / cutbacks, then backing down and introducing what they really wanted to in the first place. Attendance will be the key - as long as they can continue to attract the desired number of pre-book day guests who spend more, then passholders will still be restricted. Personally I don't see them backing down, as last season showed there was a lot of pent-up demand when the parks reopened.
I don't understand why they passed on the cut in the VAT rate onto the consumer, the park has a severe capacity and thus the supply is limited. I don't have any understanding about how often the park hit it's COVID capacity outside of passholders though.
This is a completely different issue compared to The Smiler Incident so I really hope they don't go down the route of budget cutting again. I'd assume part of the reason they budget cut was due to less people wanting to visit the park rather than now where they safely can't open the park safely with anymore guests. Once the COVID measures are over I'd assume there's going to be some sort of boom within the UK domestic tourist industry as a lot of people who've saved money due to lockdowns and won't go abroad partly due to Brexit/COVID still being somewhat of an issue. We all saw the images of people storming the British beaches over the summer so it's certainly plausible.
Also regarding passholders, I think they made the right shout with cancelling them. When you visit so often there's a lot of mediocre days where you get unlucky with constant heavy queues and ride breakdowns but if you can plan your visit once a year you want to have a good day out so it's probably worth going during Oktoberfest/Scarefest/Fireworks time of season. However there's still the chance of going on a naff day.
I was trying to work out if that many people at all spent over £20, but I guess it depends if you buy ride photos or not. One ride photo, lunch and a snack/drink is probably £20.
They didn't really pass it on. They claimed to lower the gate price, but the online price stayed the same at £34 and went up to £38 late in the season for ScareFest. Nobody would have been paying the gate price anyway so the only people who gained are those using 2for1s and then its only really an extra £2 discount.
I think this was purely a marketing tactic to ensure they had something to point towards in case any journalists starting asking questions about whether the savings had been passed on. Remember Nick Varney has been publicly campaigning for about 10 years calling on the government to reduce VAT for tourism businesses because they could pass the savings on and encourage more visits. Therefore if they weren’t seen to be passing the saving on, it could have come back to bite them.
The reality of course is that due to prebooking being compulsory at the parks in 2020, the number of people benefiting from this lower gate price was minimal. Prebooked tickets, hotel stays, food, drink, merch etc did not reduce in price and the parks pocketed the VAT savings.
I bet a couple visiting the park for a one-off visit (i.e. not passholders) can early clear £20 a head on-park spend. Like you say, a ride photo or two, lunch, snack - and don't forget the overpriced AT teddy bear or pick & mix from Towers Trading as you leave the park. Then we have Fastrack & the parking charge. Should they decide to take lunch in one of the proper sit-down venues (so Pizza & Pasta / Woodcutters / RCR) then this spend is easily achievable. Probably is with the Burger Company & Just Chicken too given the prices they charge.
To quote one of the food & beverage team leaders from when I worked there... she said "we know we are expensive, but the prices are broadly in line with what you pay at cinemas / bowling alleys etc". (This was when AT's food & beverage offer was up against McD's, KFC & Pizza Hut too - the three of which were not run by Towers).
Totally agree. Given the way Nick Varney has been going on about the VAT rate on tourism, had they not been seen to pass on the VAT saving the press & social media could have had a field-day. I can only imagine what the Daily Mirror would have made of it had the saving not been passed on.
The pricing boards on the entrance kiosks used to specifically break the ticket price down to show VAT as a separate element of the price, i.e. Merlin saying "this is what the government are forcing us to add onto your admission price today".
Sure, there was an element of "smoke & mirrors" in the VAT price reduction due to the advanced purchase online price. That said, Merlin & Varney could truthfully say the headline admission price included the reduction.
I would love to see Annual Pass statistics such as the number of attractions visited and how many passholders fall into each count. I don't know where my Merlin Annual Pass usage falls in comparison to others and whether I'm below or above the average.
In normal times I probably hit Alton Towers about four times and Chessington about a dozen (it's my local park). Occasionally I'll do Thorpe Park once and a couple of London attractions too. I get good value from the pass. On each visit I will always end up buying food and drinks, and maybe some merchandise, so there's always a secondary spend from me.
If the passes were withdrawn completely then I'd just reduce my number of visits, maybe Alton Towers twice and Chessie a couple of times too. I would basically look to spend similar money to what I spend now. I guess I would just adjust to visiting less and find other ways to spend my time.
Talking about vloggers though... are you sure they wouldn't get free or concessionary entry? With all the free publicity I don't believe they would have to pay full price every time. Maybe Disney would be happy to ditch them but I can't see Merlin doing that, at least not for the "big name" vlogs.
When I did visit more regularly and have a pass, the buckets of pic'n'mix were one of my main purchases, could get a couple of kilos of sweets for about a fiver, they were a bargain!
You can get your own logs via a DSAR, the report I got looks like they could easily see global stats if they want to.
You are not including the pass holders in the average. If you bundle the take per head on admission for both ticket and pass entries your average would sit somewhere between £22-£25.
I had a Tussaud’s/Merlin pass from 2002 to 2012 then the kids came along and I been every year since but I used the sun free tickets so only paid for parking and for lunch/dinner in the park so really each visit cost just over £20.
I had a Drayton Manor Annual pass since the start of the 2017 season with my daughter and I think she be more gutted if they were gone.
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