Dennis Speigel welcomes two very special guests from South America, Gerardo Arteaga Jr. of Chile and Marcelo Gutglas of Brazil, to the ITPS I’M4FUN Podcast. These two long-time industry veterans have spearheaded the development and growth of the amusement and leisure industry throughout Latin and South America, as they have developed, nurtured, and operated numerous types of attractions. These two devotees have also spearheaded the establishment and integration of important leisure-based associations, designed to provide support to attractions. During the podcast, Dennis, Gerardo, and Marcelo discuss the impact of Covid on both indoor and outdoor operations and provide their outlook and recipe for success in getting the industry back on track. They also talk about challenges the amusement industry in South America has faced and what it will take to open the market to new opportunities. Don’t miss this exciting and stimulating dialogue!
Thank you to Gerardo Arteaga Jr. for answering some additional questions from the live podcast that were not able to be answered due to time. These questions (and Gerardo's answers) can be found below.
How did your corporate office handle your management team and staff during the pandemic? In relation to this, do you think it will be difficult to re-hire good quality employees that you may have lost during the pandemic?
The corporate office has never been “well-loved” and they know it! They cause change in the company. It´s hard to improve key structures and processes during normal times, so instead of waiting to see what would happen during this pandemic, they have used this period to implement a number of improvements, because they said it was the perfect opportunity to carry out these processes. This involved key staff. Therefore, management teams stayed mostly intact, but we were forced to lay off many staff when the entire country closed for business for several months starting in March 2020. In relation to this, re-hiring will depend on how strongly we recover.
A few years ago, you had developed a program for hiring retired people who were your hosts. How did this program perform and do you still have this program in place?
The program was successful but, over time, it was hard to find people to fill positions. Covid-19 put extra pressure on our operation because there was a legitimate concern for the welfare of our more senior staff and we, in turn, decided to stop the program. We may take a look at it again, if and when health and operational conditions permit it.
Where do you feel the growth areas are in Latin America in terms of new amusement developments? Do you think there are major opportunities in South or Latin America that would entice investors or developers from other parts of the world to consider coming to the region to invest in new parks?
It really depends on if and when we can recover. We envision that people will demand better services and improved quality in existing services. Opportunities exist to entice investors, but we must identify the places because we have many big cities.
What advice would you give to one of your younger employees who wanted to pursue a long-term career in the industry? Why or why not should they pursue it?
People are earning more and, as a result, they value leisure time more. And the leisure industry has a bright future, with continued growth and more investment. We offer something almost tangible. It´s not like playing Fortnite – it´s like living in Fortnite!
How did the pandemic impact any planned capital spending or expansions at your facilities, and how has that changed now? What kind of capital investment magnitude you are looking at, both short and long term? And, how long do you think it will be until amusement facilities are regularly buying again?
It was only delayed, like being on pause. But afterwards, everything continues on the same path. I believe that by late 2022, after the season, we will see amusement facilities buying again.
With respect to the efforts of organizations like AIMS and NAARSO to offer online safety education and certifications, does your team participate and do you have thoughts in general on how effective the programs were and are there any thoughts to consider for the future such as only online, or only in person, or a hybrid offering?
We see a lot of value in AIMS and there is a lot of value in online courses because they can be translated. The hybrid approach seems the best way to go, mixing theory and real experiences. Being only online, you can’t get deep enough.
International Theme Park Services, Inc.
2195 Victory Parkway
Cincinnati, Ohio 45206
United States of America