St. Louis-based design firm PGAV Destinations explores attraction industry competition from “impermanent entertainment” in The Fight for Attendance: The Attraction of the Non-Attraction, its latest Destinology report.
“Considering the local competitive landscape is an essential practice among attraction managers of museums, zoos, theme parks, and more,” said Mike Konzen, Chair and Principal of PGAV Destinations. “The evolution of digital technology and a generational preference for unique experiences demands that these leaders consider an entirely separate cadre of entertainment competition.”
The Fight for Attendance explores the popularity, trends and success of themed and music festivals, live and televised sports, tabletop board games, streaming and cable television, and exercise. Existing for just an hour or several days, these activities provide a variety of unique opportunities that continue to grow in popularity, and can expose people to new interests or possibly establish themselves as annual traditions.
Attracting 32 million Americans every year, more than 800 annual music festivals thrive on providing a variety of entertainment, building community, and strengthening brand loyalty among their attendees. Nearly 133 million people attend professional American sports events each year, and the NCAA is just shy of being an $800 million annual industry. For those fans that can’t make it to the actual game, more than 127,000 hours of sports programming is televised every year, with collective viewership spending more than 31 billion hours watching it.
“The audiences for these entertainment outlets are enormous; and with their frequency and formats, the opportunity to engage and re-engage consistently holds viewers,” says Konzen. “The goal of The Fight for Attendance is to explore what makes these opportunities successful, and for attraction managers to consider practices and approaches for their own destinations to increase audiences and participation.”
Many of these experiences are not fulfilled in booming stadiums or in massive event spaces. Instead, streaming video services are proving to be a troubling disruptor to Hollywood and the television industries, with hundreds of millions of subscribers often opting to stay at home on a weekend day to “Netflix and chill” and live-Tweet while they binge-watch their favorite series. The last decade has seen a remarkable resurgence in the board game industry as well, totaling $9.6 billion in global sales in 2016 alone – to spend an evening at home with friends rolling dice and playing cards. Enthusiasts note the allure of repeatability, strategy, and complex social interaction in their most popular games.
In 2017, as in every year, people make numerous health-related resolutions. More than 36,000 fitness centers are home to 57.25 million members in America, and nearly two million people completed half marathons in 2016. The drive to live a healthier lifestyle impacts a person’s schedule, from when/where they train and exercise to where/what they choose to eat and if they seek activity or rest/relaxation. While varied and annually evolving, these extracurricular choices offer key lessons for “permanent attraction” managers at zoos, museums, theme parks, aquariums, and resorts.