Welcome to 2019! New year. New opportunities.
For us at Liseberg, it also means that we have wrapped up 2018. And our fiscal year. It’s a time for taking stock. And closing down all weather apps, at last for a while.
In many ways, 2018 was a weird year for Liseberg. Not at all bad, just weird.
An unusually warm summer, a World Cup where Sweden performed way too well for my taste, and a delayed opening of our new B&M Dive Machine Valkyria all contributed to a rather disappointing summer season.
But then Halloween happened. And Christmas. And we ended up in a pretty good place. (Press Release – Robust year for Liseberg.pdf). In fact, attendance wise, we ended up exactly where we have been the last 4 years, which is good, given our operational environment.
Sending out the press release marking our season finale made me think about how we, in the industry, always communicate attendance figures. Both internally, when we want to set a direction for the team, and externally when we communicate with the media.
In many ways it does make sense. Attendance figures are simple, tangible and easy to communicate. But at the same time, it is also a little bit like looking one part of an equation, ignoring the rest.
And if this over-focus on attendance figures spills over into the financial management of our companies, we may end up being in trouble.
First of all, we risk steering our companies on the wrong KPI’s. We can end up in a situation, where we actually buy guests. With discounts. Over programming. Over investment. And this risk is often super-imposed, if a company has to report to investors with a rather short perspective.
Second, a guest is not a guest. They tend to lose value, with increasing volume. Guest number 5 000 000 typically spends a lot less than guest number 4 000 000. And extension of seasons and opening hours has to be done carefully, as the rule of decreasing yield can hit hard.
Third, growing volume always has the risk of compromising quality. Which can be dangerous, when you work with experiences, like we do. There is without a doubt a negative correlation between many guests and guest satisfaction. At Liseberg, 46 000 guests on a December Saturday may be good for short term cash flow, but it is not good for long term success of our Christmas market.
Getting back to the press release; I know that we as an industry will always be attendance driven. It will drive communication, also in the future. But I try not to have it drive behaviour. Too much.
Because quality is more important than quantity. Any time.