Dynamic pricing a focus for Merlin chief

Scott O’Neil, Merlin Entertainments

Merlin Entertainments chief executive Scott O’Neil has revealed that ‘dynamic pricing’ is a focus for the company.

Dynamic pricing when applied to attractions typically sees prices adjusted depending on the popularity of any given date.

It is currently employed across Merlin’s UK theme parks and attractions to varying degrees.

However, in an interview with the Attractions Management magazine, O’Neil said: “What got Merlin to where we are now is not going to get us to ultimately where we want to go.”

O’Neill took over from Nick Varney as Merlin CEO in November last year. He is a former veteran of American sports organisations.

‘More sophisticated pricing’

O’Neil said he wanted to make Merlin’s dynamic pricing systems “more sophisticated”, driven by customer experience.

“The guest experience is hugely impacted by how many people are side-by-side with you,” he said.

“If you’ve been to an overcrowded theme park, you’d be hard-pressed to say that it was as good an experience as if the numbers were regulated.

“One way to regulate that is with dynamic pricing.”

In the case of Alton Towers – Merlin’s biggest UK theme park – admission currently ranges from £68 to £36.

The Curse at Alton Manor, Alton Towers
The Curse at Alton Manor – the refreshed former Duel ride – opened at Alton Towers this year

O’Neil also told Attractions Magazine that he had “never heard of” Merlin Entertainments when he was initially telephoned by a recruiter looking to fill the CEO position.

On food and beverage, he said that the offering was also an area of focus for him and the company.

The appointment of Aramark for Merlin’s catering services in the UK has seen considerable criticism of food quality from guests this year.

“I don’t know why we can’t have extraordinary food – and we do in some of our atractions,” he said.

“But I think you’ll see a bit of an upgrade in the UK and Europe.”