SeaWorld CEO Marc Swanson Shares Company’s Plans for Continued Growth And Expansion
by Arina Smith Business Development 11 August 2021
As SeaWorld parks enter the height of their summer season, CEO Marc Swanson recently spoke about the Company’s consistent forward progress and plans for expansion. Swanson continues to closely collaborate with Scott Ross, Founder and Managing Partner of Hill Path Capital and SeaWorld’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, along with SeaWorld’s Board and the Management Team. Collectively, these skilled executives share an overarching goal of transforming SeaWorld’s day-visit theme parks into multi-day destinations.
Marc Swanson Brings Twofold Perspective To CEO Role
On May 5, 2021, Marc Swanson was appointed to the SeaWorld CEO role after serving as Interim CEO since April 2020. Prior to that, he was the Company’s Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer. During Swanson’s 20-year SeaWorld career, he has served in several executive financial positions.
Marc Swanson shares his opinion and describes one of the best things which helped him to make his career progress is the short-staffed days. And he also shares that if that change is not happening, we would have seen him making chicken fingers or lifeguarding or working at the front gate. Now he totally understands how the park is operated and what the main challenges are for running the park.
Elevated SeaWorld Parks May Include New Hotels
Marc Swanson has expressed a strong desire to elevate and modernize SeaWorld’s 12 theme parks. He noted that Board Chairman, Scott Ross, continues to support this expansion endeavor, which will take place on several fronts. Collaborating closely to bring expansion ideas to fruition, the Management Team looks to multi-day venues, such as the Disney parks, as springboards.
Most recently, Swanson discussed the Company’s tentative plans to transform several SeaWorld parks into multi-day destinations. Adding onsite or site-adjacent hotels would provide a new dimension to SeaWorld guests’ experiences.
He shares his opinion and tells us this is a new strategy now that they have become more recently focused on performing. The company has some land parcels and some other things that they could make for some impressive hotel areas either on the park property or adjacent to the park.
It is something that he would like to look at across the multiple parks. Nothing specific has been resolved, but certainly, Orlando would be one that he would consider but the same for the other locations.
How Theme Parks Benefit from Onsite Hotels?
Historically, theme parks have realized two important benefits from providing quality on-premises guest lodgings. First, an onsite branded resort encourages repeat guest visits, which helps to build customer loyalty. In addition, the hotels typically generate substantial revenues from guests’ room reservations and dining experiences.
To illustrate, a number of new hotels have recently opened near the SeaWorld Orlando park. These hotels are performing well, thanks to the area’s increased tourism numbers. In addition, the hotels’ marketing programs have often targeted attendees preparing to visit the nearby Orange County Convention Center.
New Attractions, Rides, and Special Events
Marc Swanson says he thoroughly enjoys his frequent trips to SeaWorld’s 12 parks. Each park’s attractions and rides (including thrill rides) provide guests with enjoyable family experiences.
Swanson shared his desire to introduce a new attraction to each park every year. And he said they always have some things that he can’t obviously announce right now. But he thinks the people are going to be excited when they see the future plans for not only Florida parks but all the parks across the country.
One notable addition to SeaWorld Orlando will be the IceBreaker, SeaWorld’s much-anticipated first launch coaster. This Arctic-themed thrill ride features the latest in coaster technology. Under construction near the Wild Arctic attraction, the Ice Breaker is expected to open later in 2021.
Finally, Marc Swanson also expressed his intention to expand the SeaWorld parks’ special events offerings. Themed festivals have proven especially popular, and they play a key role in fostering guest loyalty.
SeaWorld’s Message to Travel Advisors
Speaking specifically to travel advisors, Marc Swanson emphasized that SeaWorld’s parks offer venues and experiences for all ages and tastes. Attractions, thrill rides, children’s offerings, and special events combine to create memorable experiences for everyone.
Swanson Targets Improved Operational Efficiencies
SeaWorld CEO Marc Swanson is committed to achieving more efficient park operations. He continues to oversee Company-wide efforts to eliminate waste and adopt best business practices.
To date, SeaWorld has worked to streamline its operations, human resources, and marketing functions, among others. Updated product and pricing structures have resulted in revenue growth.
Finally, Swanson wants to utilize improved technology to enhance guest experiences. To that end, SeaWorld is currently developing a multipart customer relationship management system. When completed, this bespoke app will enable SeaWorld to better communicate with in-park guests while offering targeted promotions and events.
SeaWorld’s Year Of Change Amidst The Pandemic
Although the COVID-19 pandemic presented SeaWorld with many operational challenges, this unprecedented event also provided opportunities to streamline Company operations. In turn, this increasingly efficient, cost-effective operations framework set the stage for the Company’s growth.
SeaWorld’s successful navigation of the pandemic-era obstacles was a direct result of exceptional collaboration between CEO Marc Swanson, Board Chairman Scott Ross, the Board members, and the Management Team. He shared his opinion and said the partnership with Chairman and other Board members allowed the company to adjust and move forward with more creativity and nimbleness than they had before.
Having a large investor on the board allows us to align our goals and move even more confidently and decisively. CEO Marc Swanson said that all the employees are all in this together and enjoying the finest leadership team. And board in constant communication and information exchange certainly allowed the employees to address this crisis time head-on. That collaboration allowed the company to address the operational costs and maximize the company’s financial flexibility, giving them more breathing room to make difficult decisions with some degree of confidence.
In summer 2021, CEO Marc Swanson remains firmly focused on SeaWorld’s path forward. The Company’s expansion strategies are well underway, and the key elements are falling into place. As with any long-term endeavor, the major players will make periodic adjustments to maximize operational and financial outcomes. And you can expect that after the pandemic the SeaWorld is waiting to give us more exciting entertainment options.