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GTI Global Network > GTI Features > GTI Figures > The ONE
Insights 2021, Interviews with Luke Riley, Chairman of the IAAPA Asia Pacific Advisory & Selena Magill, Executive General Manager, Asia Business Village Roadshow Theme Parks Asia!

On April 22, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) successfully held a networking event - Meet IAAPA in Zhuhai in Hengqin, Zhuhai, China. During the event, GTI interviewed Luke Riley, Chief Commercial Officer at Village Roadshow, Chairman of the IAAPA Asia Pacific Advisory, and Board Member of the IAAPA Global Board of Directors and Selena Magill, Executive General Manager, Asia Business Village Roadshow Theme Parks Asia, discussing the latest trends and development trends of the attraction and theme park industry.

Interviewee: Luke Riley, the Chief Commercial Officer at Village Roadshow, Chairman of the IAAPA Asia Pacific Advisory

Mr. Luke Riley(left) and Ms. Selena Magill

Q1: IAAPA Expo Asia will be the first expo to be held by IAAPA in 2021. Will there be any unique products or contents to meet the requirements at the expo in the post-pandemic era? What positive effects do you expect to bring to the tourism industry in China and the Asia-Pacific region?
First I will talk a little bit about IAAPA itself and I think the best way to understand IAAPA is three pillars. The first of those is suppliers and we have the world’s best suppliers coming in from all different countries. For example, the world’s best ride manufacturers and the world’s best slide manufactures, the world’s best architects, the world’s best engineers, the world’s best operators all coming in and meet and talk business at ex IAAPA Expo Asia and the next pillar to understand IAAPA is education and IAAPA had picked the best subject matter experts, that has the best understanding about different topics safety, operation, guest experience and they provide an opportunity for our membership to learn. The third pillar is networking and we have something really special we arranged for Expo Asia 2021, for calling it “Insight 2021” and we are going to continue to share more information about this in the weeks leading up at IAAPA Expo Asia, thank you.

Q2: What new opportunities and challenges do you think will appear in the industry in 2021? In response to the recovery of the tourism market after the pandemic, what new ways can industry peers take to attract tourists?
I think the first thing to understand from a global perspective is that Asia is leading the way returning to norm. So Asia Pacific was the very first region that felt these closures and Asia Pacific is also the first region to start opening again. And so because we are at the front of this, we are able to share information with other attractions in America, in Australia, in Europe and what we are finding is that especially in China with friends to the Chinese government, we are able to operate our facilities safely and continue to increase our capacity each day. I think the next thing that we need to understand about returning to normal is to operate just like Village Roadshow and start to reinvest in new events. There is great investment now happening in Shanghai Disney. As we know there is an upcoming opening of Universal Studios in Beijing, we look forward to that. And I think we continue to see new measures implemented in these new facilities. For example, in Beijing Universal Studios, there will be facial recognition, and new technologies which allow for less contact with surfaces and using more about biometric features.

Luke Riley, the Chief Commercial Officer at Village Roadshow, Chairman of the IAAPA Asia Pacific Advisory

Q3: Immersive experience parks such as Lionsgate Entertainment World are becoming increasingly popular with consumers. Will these new business forms featuring high immersion, strong interaction and scenario-based experience become the future trend of attractions?
So first of all, I want to say that IAAPA is incredibly proud to have Lionsgate Entertainment World, as a member of the global association. The debut of this theme park is inspiration not just to the Asia Pacific region but to the world more over. Lionsgate Entertainment World has the world’s first purpose-built virtual reality roller coaster as well as other attractions like Hunger Games, Mockingjay Fly, Twilight Saga, Now You See Me, and these attractions are all the very first of that kind anywhere in the world. I think where the trend is moving next; here we can see a lot of virtual reality experiences, and the next level which we will be implementing is to mix with reality. So that will be a combination of both wearing the virtual reality goggles, as well as projections on the walls, so mixing reality is what we going to see more of in the coming years.

Interviewee: Selena Magill, Executive General Manager, Asia Business Village Roadshow Theme Parks Asia

Q1: What kind of platform do you think IAAPA Expo Asia is? What impetus will it bring to the industry in China and the Asia-Pacific region?
The IAAPA Asia Expo which is coming up in Shanghai later this year and IAAPA itself is a really authoritative and influential communication platform in the industry. IAAPA has huge prominent advantages with the world’s most outstanding people in the industry that all come together to gather and exchange and learn from each other, share various ideas and concepts at the same time, make various views to the industry, and carry out the industry integration, which is really important for us. And although the tourism industry lately because of the Covid pandemic, we had all experienced a decline in our business, we had all experienced a real period of impact. But it’s believed now that as things start to recover, we are starting to see a real trend of improvement. For the future, and with the rise of China’s economy, with the rise of acceleration of urbanization, new tourism and leisure products are gradually emerging providing people with a high quality atmosphere for quality entertainment and IAAPA really promotes collaboration, and really brings different networks together, different businesses together. So that you can really create strong relationships, then you can be converted into fantastic theme park and entertainment relationships in the future. And that obviously brings with it the huge value social perspective and also revenue perspective and benefit for the future.

Selena Magill, Executive General Manager, Asia Business Village Roadshow Theme Parks Asia

Q2: As we know the market of Hengqin is special, so how about the present situation of Hengqin? And based on this good location, have we taken some measures to attract visitors?
Look at the present, the situation of the national epidemic continues to improve, while the production and living orders are accelerating to restore under this background. The tourism situation of Hengqin and even the whole country is starting to show a real gradual increase in terms of improvement. We’re really grateful to the Hengqin New District government for taking the initiative and coordinating the revitalization of the whole island and the tourism industry after the epidemic. They introduced the Hengqin New District outbreak response to promote the tourism market with support measures. And tens of millions of RMB was invested to help the recovery with the enterprises in the industry, and that helped us to really alleviate economic losses of tourism enterprises and boosted the confidence in Hengqin travel moving forward through a number of other measures. One of them was some great offers and subsidies to attractions and hotels and the response to decrease cancellations. And secondly, they increased the issuance of preferential tickets and packages. They also put tens of thousands of vouchers and coupons into different restaurants, different theme parks, and different tourism things to encourage restaurants, retailers, hotels and attractions, to really extensively participate in those discount reduction activities. In addition, the attractions were also actively encouraged to develop new tourism products which we’ve done really well: group promotions, live broadcast with goods, and some other ways to attract new customers and tourists. Lions Gate Entertainment World here as one of the key tourism projects in Hengqin island under the premise of strictly implementing the epidemic prevention and control. We've been able to do some fantastic things. We invited medical workers into the park free of charge. We did a big celebration around 71st anniversary last year to really embrace the new air era here in China and other public welfare activities. And then so through our ticketing promotions research and other development of theme park activities, we'll continue to build new entertainment, new shows, and new reasons for people to visit an attraction and be attracted to Lions Gate Entertainment World!

Q3: As we all know, the global tourism and leisure industry has been influenced in different ways over the last year, and many attraction operators are seeking new ways of recovery or sustainable development. And as an experienced expert in the industry, could you give some encouraging and practical advice or share some skills with us? Thank you!
As the Covid-19 pandemic overshadowed the tourism industry we really did experience a very big decline in our numbers. There are still a lot that have not recovered as well as we had hoped late in 2020. And we also benefiting from that delayed recovery now in 2021. There are so many different measures that have been launched by the country and at the provincial level that have really helped to recover the tourism industry and we are really optimistic about the future. The recent holiday period showed us that compared to before the pandemic, it has really increased and there will be a lot more development in the industry. We also have been using what we have here at the park integrating IP, technology, and tourism to create that really immersive experience. As the application of artificial intelligence and hi-tech entertainment experience normalizes, this is going to become a really important element of tourism and it’s a real point of difference for us here at the entertainment world. We will continue to strengthen that role. As an international theme park and international movie base theme park, we will do that using our six IP films in the grants that we’ve already had. That’s really already strong and we really start to focus on our amusement facilities, the science and the technology to really create that differentiation and identification that gives us that unique place here in tourism in Hengqin. And we have also been able to attract a lot of local tourists at the moment; obviously there’s still some restrictions with people not being able to come in from overseas. So what that makes us to do is really push local tourism in the giant market, in and around the park here, and we had a lot of edutainment and a lot of education groups that started coming back to visit the park as well. And that makes us, you know, give us some points for different schemes, to attract locals in Hengqin and give them another reason to visit our park. And we also do a seasonal advanced calendar show, if it’s a golden week - Dragon Boat Festival, Mother’s Day, Kid’s Day, the Labor Day holiday. We activate different campaigns and different seasonal events to make sure again that there’s another reason for people to visit. And for cultural tourism integration perspective, you know, it’s really important for tourism transformation that we continue to upgrade our facilities in the future. We will continue to focus on that Intellectual Property to tell stories and we got six fantastic films that we are bringing here. And we continue to enrich the amusement park we have, and we are also really lean on leisure and vacation and what we want to do is to turn Hengqin into a real holiday destination completely, supporting catering, supporting food and beverage, supporting retail. And you know there are other product ticket sales and other theme activities we will do. And we think that will gives us really strong synergy with all of the other tourism destinations here in Hengqin. (2021/06, 197G)

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