The worldwide attractions industry continues its recovery from COVID-19-spurred business disturbances. This resurgence was the central theme of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (or IAAPA) Virtual Conference 2021.
Held on April 7th and 8th, this international industry association’s virtual conference brought together industry leaders and several speakers. The two-day event also offered learning and networking opportunities.
The IAAPA has a long history of supporting its attractions industry members. Founded in 1918, the organization is the biggest international trade association for permanently sited amusement operations. With more than 6,000 facilities, suppliers, and individual members from over 100 countries, the IAAPA has a global reach.
The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions directly serves its members through a member directory, daily news update, and professional development eLearning courses. On a larger scale, the organization conducts industry advocacy and lobbies to influence relevant legislation proactively.
Marc Swanson, Interim CEO of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., Delivers Keynote Speech
Marc Swanson, the Interim CEO of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., presented one of the IAAPA Virtual Conference’s keynote addresses. In his remarks, Swanson emphasized that Scott Ross, Founder and Managing Partner of Hill Path Capital and SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, played a key role in helping SeaWorld successfully navigate the pandemic’s challenges.
Swanson stressed that Scott Ross’ Board leadership, and the Board’s ongoing cooperation with the SeaWorld Management Team, drove implementation of SeaWorld’s cohesive approach to navigating evolving changes brought forth by COVID-19. He also noted that having a major investor on the Board enabled the company to act decisively to overcome multiple operational and financial challenges.
While complying with government shutdown directives, SeaWorld pared down its operational costs and improved business efficiencies in many functional areas. The company also took significant steps to improve financial flexibility, which enabled it to respond creatively to emerging issues. Meanwhile, Rescue Team employees continued the company’s mission-driven animal rescue, rehabilitation, and care activities.
As SeaWorld parks continue a gradual return to normalcy, Swanson stated that the company’s well-executed pandemic response has strengthened its overall competitive position.
IAAPA Speakers Convey Recovery and Resilience Themes
Several additional IAAPA Virtual Conference speakers detailed how their companies surmounted COVID-19 pandemic challenges. Wednesday, April 7th, carried a Recovery theme, and JRA’s Keith James held an M&S Solution Talk session around that concept. Global industry professionals expressed optimism that new opportunities will ultimately arise from pandemic disruptions.
On the same day, Rockwell Automation’s Linda Freeman led an informative attractions industry panel discussion. Industry experts provided recommendations on running a successful park operation amidst the pandemic’s obstacles. They spoke of turning challenges into opportunities by creating new guest experiences that engaged their visitors while complying with COVID-19 precautions.
On Thursday, April 8th, Bernie Campbell of Whirley-Drinkworks! moderated a case study that echoed the day’s Resilience theme. Several Typhoon Texas executives detailed how the company’s food and beverage teams managed numerous pandemic-related disruptions.
Each scenario dealt with some type of physical, cognitive, informational, and social change. The leaders shared their plans for meeting the many ongoing challenges and creating a stronger post-pandemic company.
Global motorcycle adventurer and motivational speaker Leon Logothetis delivered Thursday’s keynote presentation. As part of his talk on the power of human connection, he encouraged attendees to include elements of adventure and humanity in their facility messaging.
The IAAPA Virtual Conference served as a catalyst for an attractions industry focused on the future. As the conference concluded, the association’s members continued their preparations to welcome guests for the 2021 season.