When the party is over

I am a glass-half-empty kind of guy. Never really 100% happy with anything. Always worrying.

Although it sounds depressing, it is just not a negative. It is probably part of what drives me. And at the same time, it is most likely built into my job.

I think most CEO’s in a consumer centric companies will recognize this role: You sort of function a bit like stabilizer on a ship. In smooth sailing, you are a less optimistic than your colleagues. And in rough waters, you are a bit less worried than everyone else.

Glass half full or glass half empty; depending on the forecast.

In today’s rapidly changing environment, those forecasts are increasingly difficult to make. And right now, at the beginning of a new decade, it does feel a little like navigating this ship in a fog.

The 2010’s saw huge growth in the attractions industry. Unevenly distributed from a regional perspective, but still – very expansive. Driven by an expanding global middle class and overall growth in tourism and leisure spend – but also by peoples fundamental longing for experiences. In real life – and with friends and family.

How robust is this growth, you might ask? The answer is complicated.

On one hand, one could argue that a lot of the growth we have seen – especially in South East Asia – is unsustainable. We will see a shake-out. And looking at the IAAPA Expo thermometer, which is usually the most accurate indicator of where there industry is heading, we will see a cooling off of the market in the years to come.

On the other hand, we also see that a large part of the attractions industry is surprisingly resilient. In tougher times, people may travel less, but especially regional parks and lower-cost experiences will often thrive in softer markets.  

When you add global security threats, climate change, shifting demographics, social and cultural transformations to the macro-economic mix, the operational environment becomes just not complex, but complicated. An environment, you need navigate with great caution and agility, I would argue.

And then we are back at the starting point; the half-empty glass: In endless days of summer, you can’t imagine that it will ever rain again. But it will.

Buckle up. The next decade will be interesting.

And Happy New Year.



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