TEA Connect Blog

28 April 2020

Global audience attends TEA Asia Pacific webinar April 28, 2020

Industry leaders spoke frankly and at length about theme park re-openings and COVID challenges in the Asia-Pacific sector, at a Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) webinar April 27-28, 2020, to a global audience.

Kudos to organizer/moderator TEA Asia Pacific Board President Owen Zhao of Max-High Entertainments Co., Ltd., and very special thanks to webinar partner Tripvivid.

 

Speaker list   Presentation summaries   full video   About TEA   

media inquiries   photo gallery

 

Webinar attendees heard from a distinguished roster of speakers, including senior management at Fantawild, OCT, Wanda, Ctrip, Hasbro, Beijing Universal Studios, Kaisa Group, Yunnan Cultural Show, Little Airplane Studios and Park + Associates, as well as members of the TEA Asia Pacific Board. The discussion covered areas of immediate interest and concern, and future expectations for business in themed entertainment relevant to theme park owners and operators, real estate interests, producers, suppliers, and IP holders. The webinar was conducted in English and Mandarin, with translation provided on both sides.

Owen Zhao said, "The whole world has been impacted by the Coronavirus in the past three months, and most entertainment businesses have suffered considerable losses. China seems to be the first country to have reached a point where significant re-opening can take place, with precautions, and has been doing so since early April. How to safely achieve recovery and build a better future are the priorities."

The webinar is part of TEA Digital programming - a continuing series of online webinars and events to serve members of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and bring the extended, global themed entertainment business community together during the COVID shutdown and recovery.

Frank Ming Li, Founder and CEO of Fantawild speaks at the TEA Asia Pacific webinar

 

The Themed Entertainment Association

TEA is a global nonprofit membership organization headquartered in Burbank, California USA, serving the creators of compelling places and experiences. Over the past decade, the Asia Pacific sector - especially China - has been the fastest growing market. Attractions such as integrated resorts, theme parks, waterparks, live spectaculars and museums have all been major drivers of land development, investment, travel and tourism. In addition to numerous China-based theme park and resort companies, the world's two leading theme park operators, Disney and Universal, now have properties in China, with Shanghai Disneyland Resort having rolled out in 2016 and Universal Studios Beijing set to debut in early 2021.

The definitive global theme park attendance report, the TEA/AECOM Theme Index, is produced annually in a collaboration between TEA and AECOM and can be accessed free at this link.

TEA International Board President, Michael Blau of Adirondack Studios, said, "Everyone in our industry is currently looking to China as its theme parks and entertainment venues reopen. There will be valuable lessons to learn over the next months as our resilent, creative industry strives for recovery and the making of ever better and safer guest experiences." 

TEA Chief Operating Officer Jennie Nevin said, "Themed entertainment touches many business communities, creative and financial, around the world. This webinar enabled TEA to build greater awareness of our industry and our organization, and to bring people together from all the regions that are served by themed entertainment, in China and Asia but also Europe, the Middle East and North America - for an important and timely discussion. Many thanks to Owen Zhao, Tripvivid, and all the speakers, organizers and participants."

Owen Zhao, President, Max-High Entertainments Co., Ltd.; TEA Asia Pacific Division Board President;
Webinar organizer/moderator

Speaker list

  • Owen Zhao, President, Max-High Entertainments Co., Ltd.; TEA Asia Pacific Division Board President; Webinar organizer/moderator
  • Frank Ming Li, Founder and CEO, Fantawild; member of TEA Asia Pacific Board of Directors
  • Ma Chun Ye, GM, Wanda Cultural Tourism
  • Antony Wang, Dean of Tourism Institute of OCT
  • William Fang, GM of Activities, Ctrip Group
  • Josh Selig, Little Airplane Productions
  • Natalie Chan, Director of Hasbro Live; member of TEA Asia Pacific Board of Directors
  • Ron James, Vice President, Kaisa Group
  • Peng Wang, Cultural and Creative Industrial Development Director, BSH Investment [Universal Studios Beijing]; member of TEA Asia Pacific Board of Directors
  • Nathan Wang, GM of YLP Show
  • Mason Schmitz, Director, Park + Associates; TEA Asia Pacific Board member
  • Miia Taehtinen, APAC Area Manager, Lappset Group Ltd.; TEA Asia Pacific Board member
  • Leo Liu, Founder & CEO, Tripvivid 

 

Presentation summaries

Frank Li, Fantawild -- We can’t say it’s safe until the whole world is safe. Coronavirus is different from SARS, and it may not go away in hot weather. All Fantawild theme parks opened in mid-March. While Fantawild theme parks were shut down, the company focused on its other businesses including creative and design, cartoon and IP licensing, and equipment sales. Coronavirus stopped most business early this year, and one whole quarter was lost, but we can gain it back in the second and the third quarters. Government policy, support and investment will help tourism recover. 

Josh Selig, Little Airplane Productions -- Covid has been a challenge for our business, but it has also been a great opportunity. And I believe Covid can be a great opportunity for any theme park business, because at its core, the theme park business is all about content.  It's about characters and storytelling. And the content market is very healthy all over the world.  Due to COVID, TV ratings have never been higher and subscriptions to SVOD services are selling at record numbers. Theme park companies have always created content, but now they may want to make content a core focus of their business.

Leo Liu, Tripvivid - China’s cultural tourism industry is a whole new ball game now. Since the founding of the Culture and Tourism Ministry in 2018, the boundary of the tourism industry has been extended to almost all areas related to consumption. This not only means the integration between the culture and tourism industries, but generating many new forms of businesses across different industries. The Covid-19 outbreak could be an opportunity to shake up the traditional tourism industry. Prominent structural problems related to the traditional tourism are exposed during the crisis. For example, traditional attractions and tourist destinations rely too heavily on several festivals of a year. This outbreak put this concentrated scale economy at risk without any hedge against. Reforms and innovation concerning operation structure are sorely needed, such as introducing staggered holidays, spread of high and low seasons, combination of online and offline operations.

Miia Taehtinen, Lappset Group -- We do not see clearly; during good times we think they will continue and during adversity we tend to see continuing gloom. We discredit the speed of change. When inside the crisis, we should take note how very much people want out of it. The two World Wars give us analogies. World War I changed the way people had fun by making it possible for the middle class to participate more as Radio and movies became more affordable and accessible. Literature changed from “heavy reading” to light entertainment and music and dancing became faster and steps easier. This demonstrated people’s need for simplicity, lightheartedness and convenience. World War II brought fun within reach of more generations through greater affordability. After the war, it was about family: amusement parks, and cruises opened up to the middle class. People want comedy, romance, to be with friends and family. They do not want horror, scary or sad content.

Ma Chun Ye, Wanda - After the storm comes the rainbow. A sudden virus outbreak put our society on pause. Some industries will recover faster than others. The cultural and tourism industry, with the basic operation characteristics of customer flow and gathering, would be among the last. Full resumption of our tourism business would mark that the whole society is back on track. "Know your destiny, know your opportunity and know yourself” are key phrases to express my thinking. In China, people are now returning to work while the outbreak overseas is still on the rise and uncertain. We predict that the epidemic influence on the tourism business will not cease shortly and that any misjudging of the situation by wishful thinking could lead to fatal results. When there’s a crisis, there’s also an opportunity - in this case, where is the opportunity? Rapid expansion of the cultural and tourism industry led people and investors to become overconfident. It was only a matter of time until there would be a correction. This is a time to streamline, to build your brand, to be pro-active and innovative and rethink business models.

Mason Schmitz, P+ A Projects -- Since much of Asia has experienced the impacts of the virus before the rest of the world, we are already seeing ways in which many industries are attempting to recover.  Asia is leading in these efforts. There are already measures being taken to help guests and staff reduce any transmission of the virus.  Long term, it’s important to understand how guests may experience attractions differently. Some short term solutions may last for an extended time or even be permanent. Sanitizing a ride after use might become the new normal. Guests might always wear a mask to attractions. Some theme parks around the world have already started implementing virtual queuing and/or advanced reservation system. With a new limited park capacity, reduced queue due to social distancing, and longer ride turnover times, it will be necessary for guests to plan their visit differently. Many people will be reluctant to travel outside of their region, and it will be important to attract and re-attract local guests. The overall master plan will need to be further studied to determine how the space can be better utilized, and what technologies will be invested in to accomplish this.

Antony Wang, OCT -- Although the epidemic has brought a huge negative impact, it also gives the theme park industry a chance to face up to the current situation and transform itself. In the short term, after a long period of strict isolation and epidemic prevention, people's trust between each other is weakened and their psychological distance has increased, which will inevitably cause some obstacles to restart tourism activities. In the long run, I believe that the theme park industry, with huge market demand, is confident and capable of turning this challenge into an opportunity for strategic transformation, business reconstruction, innovation and upgrading. Theme parks should adapt to tourism consumption upgrading trend by focusing on  product and service quality, in order to expand market supply of high-quality cultural tourism products. In world history, every economic crisis is accompanied by a profound technological revolution. The impact of the epidemic has accelerated the change of people's life and consumption patterns, and promoted the emergence of new tourism concepts and demands. Thereby, it will accelerate the transformation of industry technology and realize the renewal and iteration of the cultural tourism industry. Theme park and cultural tourism industries provide important application scenarios of 5g Technology and artificial intelligence. The continuous integration of theme park, culture and tourism industry and science and technology will become a new engine to speed up the reform of the industry and reshape the future of the industry.

Peng Wang, BSH Investment -- On the morning of February 18, Secretary of the Municipal Party Committee Cai Qi went to the city's deputy center investigating several key projects and enterprises including Universal Beijing Resort. He encouraged us to resume construction as soon as possible and make sure our staff are under a safe working environment at the same time. He wished our project would get finished and open to the public early next year. Phase I was fully resumed and at present, there are more than 10,000 workers working on the construction site to make sure the project is going on as scheduled. Most of the attractions’ structures are finished, equipment installation and internal renovation work also started. The Universal Studios project has an official WeChat account last year, called Beijing Universal Resort, sharing detailed information of our project progress and recruitment requirements. The official website is www.universalbeijingresort.com. Many theme park related industries are affected such as: arts, entertainment and recreation, transport, accommodation and food services, wholesale and retail. There will be a long way to go for these these industries to return to their former prosperity. Judging from the current changes in consumers’ behavior, indoor projects (such as shopping malls and movie theaters) have suffered the most. After the epidemic, people prefer outdoor recreational methods, and are spending more time online. These behavior changes suggest opportunities for the theme park industry.

William Fang, Ctrip -- Government policies are quite conservative and “safety first” in order to coordinate epidemic prevention and control with economic and social development. Outbound travel from Mainland China has been suspended, and the recovery is uncertain. Group tours inside cities or provinces are permitted gradually and available to tourists. Attractions will strictly implement the policies issued by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and National Health Commission, which require that indoor spaces be temporarily closed, and the number of visitors not exceed 30% of the approved maximum load. People have been saving their money and we expect to see them spending it post-pandemic. There are positive signs of recovery and resurging demand for travel in China.

Contact TEA with any questions: email TEA Member Services or TEA Media Relations.

 

Video 

(Full presentation on TEA TV)

 

 

Posted by Judy Rubin

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