Amanda Thompson OBE, Managing Director of Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the UK and current Chairman of IAAPA, joins Dennis Speigel to discuss the status of the leisure and attractions industry in the midst of a global pandemic. As the first European woman to hold the position of Chairman of IAAPA, Amanda specifically discusses unique and successful practices that have been put into place at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and provides her exclusive perspective on what the road to recovery will look like moving beyond 2020. Watch this highly informative and dynamic conversation!
About Amanda Thompson OBE
Amanda Thompson is Managing Director of Blackpool Pleasure Beach and President of Stageworks Worldwide Productions and successfully combines these two major and demanding roles. Amanda is currently chairman of IAAPA and is the first ever European woman to hold this position. Under her leadership she has transformed the park, including Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s biggest project to date, the UK’s first ever double launch roller coaster, ICON, which represented a £16.25M investment. In 2019, Amanda launched the parks new £12M hotel, the Boulevard, and was responsible its interior design and styling. Amanda’s experience in the industry has shown beyond doubt that she is accustomed to tackling difficult and demanding workloads head-on. She has a talent for pushing the boundaries and demanding the very best from every project she undertakes.
Thank you again to everyone that joined us live on December 2nd for Episode 7 of the ITPS I’M4FUN Podcast, with special guest Amanda Thompson OBE, Managing Director of Blackpool Pleasure Beach and current Chairman of IAAPA. We were unfortunately unable to get to all of the great questions submitted online, so Amanda graciously has provided answers below. If there are any further questions, you can always reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
With the closures, how do you keep fans excited about coming back to the park and what kinds of things have you done to interact with your base?
Amanda Thompson OBE: During lockdown, we kept fans excited though a social media programme of engaging content including ‘what’s in the box’, competitions and activities.
What specific capacity constraints have you had to face, and how has that impacted your park knowing you depend on volume?
Amanda Thompson OBE: Our capacity was 10’000 and we’d normally welcome 25’000 to 30’000 guests.
How do you think the England parks are doing compared to other European countries?
Amanda Thompson OBE: Other than Sweden where Liseberg, Grona Lund and other parks have had to close, I’d say we are quite similar to other European countries.
How has your labor pool been? Are you losing good talent that may not return because they are looking elsewhere? What are you doing to retain staff?
Amanda Thompson OBE: We have been able to retain staff with the Government’s furlough scheme. Of course, we have lost some staff who wish to change jobs and have gone to work for supermarkets, DHL, Amazon and the hospital. We have started recruiting earlier for next year.
How have the European parks come together to support each other these past months?
Amanda Thompson OBE: IAAPA EMEA has led the way and kept their line of communication well and truly open and provided a forum to discuss opening and Covid issues.
How many members does BALPPA have now, and what is their relationship with IAAPA?
Amanda Thompson OBE: Over 300. BALPPA represents members in the UK and European members of IAAPA are represented by IAAPA EMEA.
Like the rest of the world, IAAPA has had to go virtual in its workshops and seminars. How would you say these been received in terms of attendance and overall success?
Amanda Thompson OBE: Under a difficult situation, IAAPA was thrown into the deep end and swam rapidly to the forefront to understand and meet the needs of members well.
How has adding hotels impacted business at your park?
Amanda Thompson OBE: Our hotels are now an essential part of our business.
What advice would you give to women who are starting in the business and are looking to gain leadership roles?
Amanda Thompson OBE: Be passionate, honest and truthful. Always lead by example and never be worried about getting your hands dirty.
You and your team should be commended for a job well done safely and successfully operating one of the world's best traditional parks through the challenging 2020 season.
What are your thoughts on marketing strategies tied to proof of receiving the vaccine (i.e. promo offered to customers who have proof of receiving the vaccine)?
Amanda Thompson OBE: We will continue to work with the UK Government and health authorities to follow guidelines and I feel people will be issued with a vaccine passport in the not too distant future.
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