EPISODE 11: A look into the global attractions industry in Europe and the Middle East, with unique insight from the supplier side

Guest: Jeroen Nijpels - Owner & Managing Director of JNELC

Dennis Speigel welcomes Jeroen Nijpels, Owner & Manager of JNELC. JNELC is a consultancy company specializing in supplying High-End Attractions and services from various industry suppliers such as Zierer, The Producers Group, nWave, and more. Dennis and Jeroen engage in a dynamic discussion about where the attractions industry is heading in terms of expected future trends. An active member of the industry for 25 years, Jeroen’s background and expertise, especially throughout the European, Asian, and Middle East communities, provides a unique perspective on the diversity of products offered today to theme parks and attractions. Also, hear how Jeroen has been actively promoting IAAPA through his involvement as its Chairman of the EMEA Manufacturer & Supplier Subcommittee and as the Founder of its Young Professionals Group. Join us as we engage with Jeroen on what is happening specifically in Europe and the Middle East from the supplier perspective.

About Jeroen Nijpels, ICAE
Jeroen Nijpels, ICAE, has been active in the theme park industry since 1996. His company specializes in supplying high-end attractions and services from various suppliers in the industry, like well-known roller coaster & family ride manufacturer Zierer from Germany, 3D/4D movie producer & distributor nWave Pictures from Belgium, skill games operating company HB Leisure from the UK, digital maintenance software specialist Mobaro from Denmark and last but not least The Producers Group from Los Angeles. The company also offers various consulting and project management services, especially around observation wheel projects. Lastly, Jeroen is very active as volunteer for IAAPA, currently as Chairman of the EMEA Manufacturer & Supplier Subcommittee and member of the EMEA Advisory Committee, the Global M&S Committee and the Service Awards Committee. One of his key achievements at IAAPA is the formation of the Young Professionals group.

Additional Questions after the Podcast

Thanks to everyone for joining us on February 10th when we welcomed Jeroen Nijpels, Owner & Managing Director of JNELC, to our ITPS I’M4FUN Podcast. Jeroen and Dennis had an energetic discussion on current trends in rides and attractions, and Jeroen also shared industry news from Europe and the Middle East. Thank you to everyone who submitted a question during our live broadcast. For those that were not answered live, Jeroen has supplied answers to these remaining questions. These answers are below. For further questions, please reach out to us at itps@interthemepark.com.

What is your thought on the popularity of what we know as “edutainment” – projects like the popular Kidzania for instance and others – is there much demand for these in the markets where you work?

I believe these kind of attractions will continue to gain momentum, as it fits in a society in which everything is based on experiences, hence also education. There is one issue preventing projects like Kidzania from breaking through developed markets, and that is that these operations are extremely labour-intensive. As long as this remains the model, it will be tough to grow this in my part of the world. And luckily we have technology, so I am sure they will find solutions in this direction to make the business case work.

In your experience in selling high-end attractions, how much emphasis have you seen in recent years in the use of media and films as part of rides and attractions? It seems to be a growing trend, and probably greatly increases the costs to purchase. Do you see this continuing as a trend among operators, mainly the larger ones with higher budgets?

With the rapid development and increased accessibility to high-end software and animation tools, it was clear that media-based attractions have been on the rise already for a number of years. We were ourselves involved in the development of the Ghostbusters dark ride in Heide Park, Germany for Merlin Entertainments, which has these aspects, as well as a well-known IP all included in it. I am not so sure that the costs will rise all that significantly, as the technology becomes cheaper. I would rather argue that we see more affordable versions, making this kind of attractions available for a larger section of amusement and theme parks around the world. We will ourselves make some big announcements with JNELC, Zierer and a yet-to-be-disclosed partner on this matter towards the IAAPA Expo Europe in Barcelona, come September.

Are suppliers and vendors of attractions facing any issues with obtaining supplies and parts, given issues with Covid and delivery delays?

Yes, definitely. There are all kind of issues, like transportation, obtaining parts, especially electronics, from China, reduced work hours at subcontractors and in their own facilities, dealing with quarantine within the work force, etc. Also for suppliers of attractions and services that require one or more employees from the supplier to go to the customer’s jobsite to execute installation, commissioning and/or implementation, travel restrictions severely delay the fulfillments of our contracts.

In any of the markets where you work, are you seeing or hearing of government assistance or subsidies being offered to manufacturers or vendors because of Covid?

Yes. Across Europe and in various locations in other parts of the world, we have seen the government assist especially in terms of guaranteeing employment. Other than that, I haven’t seen that many significant assistance provided by the government, either specifically for industry vendors or generic programs that apply to our sector.

Do you hear much about consolidation or opportunities for acquisitions in the European park markets? Do you see any blending or melding of European attractions in the forthcoming short term?

In my opinion, the largest wave of consolidation in this market is already behind us. What started at the beginning of this century with Six Flags entering (and exiting) the European market, has then been followed up by mergers and takeovers by the likes of Merlin, Compagnie des Alpes, Parques Reunidos and Aspro Ocio. In fact, to a certain extent, you see already some dissolving taking place, or at least some split-ups, with as the largest example within the European context (behind Six Flags’ exit from Europe) the sale of some of the smaller parks by Compagnie des Alpes to what has become the Looping Group. What I wouldn’t be surprised about, however, is if we see some consolidation on the part of the manufacturers and suppliers in the decade to come, partly also as an aftermath of the current crisis.

We know that the EMEA Manufacturers & Suppliers sub-committee is meant to develop programs and services to recruit manufacturing and supplier members. Can you give some more insight as to what this committee does and what the suppliers and vendors in our industry can expect to receive in support from the committee’s endeavors?

The core activity of this subcommittee is to steer the IAAPA EMEA office with regards to the European Expo. So from pre-selecting the possible host cities to reviewing the slate of activities surrounding the expo, we look after the suppliers’ best interests and ensure excellent possibilities for making connections between buyers and sellers. And besides the Expo, we are always looking together with Jakob and his team at other possibilities for creating networking activities, such as the summits. With that, we hope that the IAAPA EMEA office is able to offer a slate of activities to all of the vendors, regardless of location, segment of the industry or size, to have a chance to find new buyers and to maintain relations with existing clients. And last but not least we would like to be approachable for all of the M&S members so that if they have an idea, a suggestion for improvement or a concern, they know whom to contact in order to bring this to the attention of the subcommittee or the IAAPA staff.

How did you get your start in the amusement industry?

That’s a way too long story to tell here 😊! If someone would like to know that story, we should meet on Clubhouse, set up a room and go through that. One hint: I knew already at the age of 10 that I would always want to have something to do with entertainment, with bringing fun and joy into people’s lives. I have had a few different interpretations of that desire over the years, but from 1996 that was the theme park industry and I have never left!

Where do you think the top 3 hot spots will be for development of new parks and attractions once we move out of Covid’s impact?

Saudi Arabia, Eastern Europe and Vietnam. 

Feasibility Analysis - Design / Masterplanning - Pre-Opening Operations Planning - Management

International Theme Park Services, Inc.
International Theme Park Services, Inc.

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International Theme Park Services, Inc. 
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United States of America
Phone: 513-381-6131