Sent: Monday, July 14, 2008 10:21 PM
To: Vogt, Terri
I am part of a web site called theme park insider and many of us are wondering what is going to happen to the AB owned theme parks...
Good morning. Terri Vogt sent me your e-mail. I'm the head of PR for Busch Entertainment Corp.
We don't have an answer to your question right now. All of our parks are open and operating normally. We remain a division of Anheuser-Busch and nothing about our commitment to guest service and quality has changed. If anything does change we'll make sure the readers of ThemeParkInsider.com are the first to hear. Thanks for contacting us.
[Editor's Update: I've got something to say about this. Check out the first post in the comments. - Robert]Tweet
Right now there is really no other response to be had. Maybe a continued round of questions toward theme park personnal may get some "off the record" responses and give us more to discuss. For instance, e-mail any and all media realations people and request the same? Anyone can e-mail/contact BGE, etc... via their website under contact and media relations. Don't expect to get too much in reply, but maybe one might step up and go off record to speak of what may be floating around the water cooler so to speak?
My contacts so far have nothing major to report, just their own opinions on what they expect to happen. Sorry to say, but time will tell more as it passes.
Merlin/Blackstone can't because of their deal with Universal, and Universal isn't likely since GE is selling all kinds of stuff. So... who knows?
And many thanks to you as well, Robert. For writing what I know many A-B theme park fans including myself are feeling - and in a far better way than I would pen it :) You're spot on with what A-B has currently achieved in terms of brand loyalty, and also regarding what they have to lose if InBev just dumps these parks off to the highest bidder. They're more than parks. Period.
Should some of the InBev C-suite folks stumble across our little forum here, I hope they take our words into consideration before ruining what, IMHO, is the epitomy of what not only theme parks, but good ole family entertainment should be.
I've not heard of any other connections other than, as Robert mentions, the Blackstone thing, and the long-finished deal relating to European properties that came about just before PortAventura's conception. Though if you know of anything else Alicia, I'd be very interested to hear it.
I know this may be premature since the sale is not final but after being a season pass holder with my family for the last decade it concerns me greatly.
Thank you in advance for your consideration
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But I ran this post to make a point, both to InBev and to potential buyers of the A-B parks: People love these theme parks. They absolutely adore and cherish them. That is brand value and customer loyalty with a financial value far beyond however many billion your assessors determine the physical parks themselves to be worth.
I didn't ask Brian to send this e-mail. I didn't know he was doing it. But the fact that he cared enough about these parks to take the time and make the effort of asking questions of top corporate managers helps make my point.
A-B park fans care. They do not want to see their parks closed, cut back, ignored or exploited. They want to see the current management team stay and the current financial expectations remain (no jacking prices or slashing expenses to help "pay for" the deal, to the detriment of the customer experience).
Pick up the phone and call Mark Shapiro at Six Flags and ask him about the value of customer loyalty. Because he would trade in a microsecond to have Six Flags customers feel the way about his parks that BEC's customers feel about Busch Gardens and SeaWorld.
Passion is an extremely value and lucrative asset in business. It is also the most fragile. If InBev screws these customers, their immense goodwill toward these parks and, by extension, to other A-B brands, will evaporate.
Again, talk to the folks at Six Flags. They'll tell you how much it costs to try to win that loyalty back.