Using video in Development of Tourist Attractions…

Well, this winter has been the worst so far for me living in the north of center.  I haven’t seen this much snow since I was a child in rural southwestern Pennsylvania.  Those winters were brutal (see slide show).  North of center also has its brutal winters, just like back home.  But not this bad that university cancelled classes for a week, and some.  So, what do you do to keep the students progressing along when you have ‘snow’ days?  Videos and recorded lectures.

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Prime opportunity to test my idea of using Jurassic Park, Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in my Development of Tourist Attractions.  I can hear the ‘whys’ from here.  Well, the video illustrates the concept of development from the first movie.

Sir Richard Attenborough as John Hammond
Sir Richard Attenborough as John Hammond in the original Jurassic Park (c) 1993 All rights reserved

John Hammond (portrayed by the late Sir Richard Attenborough) had this brilliant idea to develop and open a ‘theme’ park for his now non-extinct dinosaurs. The opening minutes to Jurassic Park has Hammond convincing the other title characters to come and put their stamp of approval on his park. They are after all paleontologist and this is their expertise. Apparently, safety issues for the insurance companies are delaying the park’s opening. In John Hammond’s eyes, this park is a good thing.

Yet, how do I use it for my class?  Well, students are asked to watch the film, scrutinize it against their knowledge about tourism, tourism development and attraction management.  The main question–Is this park or its current inception, successful?  Could it be successful as it is designed from a tourism point of view?

Tourism Umbrella
Tourism Umbrella Walker, 4th Edition, 2006 Pearson; Fig 1.1

Are the elements of the tourism umbrella developed?  What is the degree of value chain apparent?  What about carrying capacity?  What about value?  And more.  All valid questions to ask when considering success.  How did Disney and the Disney company build and manage successful theme parks?

Fast forward to Jurassic World from 2015.  A long twenty-two years have passed and the first rendition of the park has given way to a realized attraction.

Making of Main Street in Jurassic World (see the full realized version of Main Street Here).  The young lads have made it to the island via air travel and boat, they are staying at a Hilton and have been given an RFID bracelet from their Aunt Claire.  There are restaurants along main street, souvenir shops, and the park is peppered with different rides and amusements to entertain the whole family.  Personally, I would have loved to pet the baby dinosaurs in the petting zoo.

We are taken behind the scenes and learn about the ‘success’ of the theme park when Claire is introduced in the movie.  As she explains, revenue continues to climb, but operating costs are starting to exceed revenue capture.  Shareholders are demanding a return on their investment.  The consumers or tourist aren’t ‘impressed with dinosaurs’ anymore.  Doesn’t mean that the park isn’t trying to listen to their consumers.  They know the tourist want ‘bigger, better, louder–more teeth.”  So, R&D or asset development saunters in with uncovering and ‘building’ dinos to the consumer’s wants.  As the movie progresses, things go drastically wrong with their latest and greatest asset.  The Indominus Rex sets off a chain reaction that destroys the park and injures, kills a lot of people (See for yourself).

The students did pretty well identifying the umbrella.  Some went so far as to question the safety and security of the different renditions of the parks.  This is testing their ability to see past the obvious.  Critically analyze from a management standpoint what the park did or didn’t do.  My biggest question left that some hinted at but not explicitly identified was–Why did they have to develop more assets?  Why not utilize the other management process for the park?  (I know it’s a movie, they needed something more drastic for a story line.)  But really, what about the other functions of management?

The Business Environment
Illustrates the three internal forces that drive business–organizing, planning and control.

Under planning, managers can re-envision the marketing function.  Why not package the park and its core activities into unique offerings?  Create value by another means other than dinosaur development.  A hint of this was discussed by several students.  This also begs the question of sustainability and carrying-capacity.  Did the park reach a point where the functions of management entered into a detrimental phase?  That something negative was about to happen.  As illustrated by the image above, the tourism business environment, communication was seriously lacking.  This leads to the belief that even though for all outward appearances Jurassic World was a successful and profitable enterprise, the measurement of that success wasn’t completely positive.

This leads then into our discussion in class for this week concerning their project and mid-term; the development of criteria in which to judge success.  As part of their project, they have to develop five (5) criteria and its subsequent variable to judge their attraction.  We utilize the Best Destinations: The Gold Standards: Proposed Best Destinations Evaluation Criteria and Standards as well as other peer-reviewed journal articles.  I may extend the use of these videos into this lecture.

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