Labor shortages, security concerns, and technological advances are the emerging trends in the amusement and entertainment industry for the coming year.
Growing amusement and entertainment industry trends
The amusement industry is slowly returning to normal. Attendance at entertainment venues is trending upward, nearing 2019 levels. A look at the financial reports of major theme park chains shows that crowds are up 8% from 2021. While attendance is still 3% down from 2019 levels, some parks have increased spending averages per person. For example, Six Flags attempted to lower crowd levels to focus on individual spending and experiences. As a result, attendance dropped 22% in 2022. However, sales per person increased by 21%, effectively offsetting what would have been a financial disaster for Six Flags.
But as amusement and entertainment venues reopen, several trends are surfacing that could shape the industry for years to come. Labor shortages continue to be a problem for parks of all sizes, but especially for carnivals, forcing many venues to slash operating hours and limit access to some attractions. Increased petty crime and vandalism are other developments making waves across the industry. In response, park owners have strengthened security standards.
Fortunately, the news is not all bad. Labor shortages and safety concerns have forced parks to innovate. As a result, evolving technology is rising to meet these issues, improving customer experiences at parks.
Labor shortages caused by the pandemic and the Great Resignation are not unique to the amusement and entertainment industry. One issue driving staffing trends in parks and carnivals is the reduction in temporary work visas issued by the Department of Homeland Security.
The entertainment sector relies on H-2B and J1 visas to help fill their staffing needs. However, during the height of the pandemic, the number of visa applicants fell dramatically, causing the Government to reduce the number of visas overall. On the bright side, Homeland Security released and added 35,000 visas to address labor shortages. But this is still 25% less than 2019 visas.
Even though the work visa program is making a comeback, labor shortages will continue to be an issue for the industry.
Learn more: How to Rehire Quickly for Amusement & Entertainment Businesses
Elevated crime levels have been a hot-button issue recently, and the amusement and entertainment industry is not immune from its effects. Reports of vandalism, rowdy customers, and in-park violence are up across the board.
Park owners and managers are fortifying security efforts. These measures include increased cameras, security guards, and command stations. Some parks are even opting to install towers covered in security cameras that give security officers a birds-eye view of the park.
However, these added protocols will not have much effect if their park owners don’t invest in and advocate for adoption from the top down. All levels of a park need training in security and crisis response.
Learn more: Put Event Safety First With a Venue Risk Assessment
Even though labor shortages and increased security concerns have negatively impacted the entertainment and amusement industry, these trends drive new tech innovations. The Ohio State Fair is a prime example of this. In 2022, the Fair went cashless, substituting 33 ticket booths with automated kiosks dispensing virtual “Magic Money.” A skeleton crew of staff is kept on hand to assist customers with any issues. The program has been a hit with fairgoers. Other app-based innovations include the ability to check line wait times and to hold your place in a virtual queue.
Advancements are also cropping up around ride safety. For example, drones are being used to inspect the countless welds on rides and attractions. Previously, specially trained climbers and cranes were the only ways to accomplish this. Another area of innovation is staff inspection. Inspection notes can be stored in the Cloud, replacing inefficient paper logbooks and making it easier for parks to stay compliant with new regulations such as Tyler’s Law, which takes effect in Ohio this year.
Also read: Inspire Guest Confident with Effective Communication
Stay ahead of trends by seeking proper insurance coverage
The lingering effects of the pandemic can be directly linked to amusement and entertainment industry trends. Staffing shortages and elevated crime test the resiliency of park owners and managers. But necessity is the mother of invention. These obstacles have led to cutting-edge technologies that allow park staff to make the most of a diminished workforce, elevate customer service, and maintain rigorous safety protocols.
It’s crucial to keep an eye on these trends. But park owners should also manage risk over the long term. McGowan Program Administrators (MPA) is an industry leader in progressive insurance programs and products. With wisdom garnered from decades of experience, MPA designs and writes highly specialized coverage for specific markets, including Amusement and Entertainment Insurance. Venues and parks of all kinds trust MPA to guide them through the ever-evolving market trends and to offset the inevitable risks of operating in the amusement space.