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Merlin Entertainments to introduce dynamic pricing at key global attractions

Merlin Entertainments to introduce dynamic pricing at key global attractions
March 28, 2024

Global attractions operator Merlin Entertainments is to introduce dynamic pricing at some of its major international attractions during peak periods so prices can respond faster to weather and demand.

UK-based Merlin which operates England’s Alton Towers and Italy’s Gardaland Resort theme parks along with Legoland Resorts and Discovery Centres and with Madame Tussauds, SEA LIFE and the Dungeons brands has, according to the BBC, said it would help offset a decline in visitors since the pandemic.

Merlin Entertainments already uses off-peak and peak time pricing which, like many organisations, allows seasonal fluctuations to dictate demand and price. However, the introduction of machine learning will make flexible ticket pricing faster and more detailed.

Managing demand
As an example, if Saturday during major holiday periods turns out to be less busy than expected, the firm could lower ticket prices on the day.

Similarly, if a winter's day unexpectedly turns out to be busy, prices could rise higher than current off-peak prices, even during what is normally considered a cheaper time to visit.

Merlin said in a statement that such a pricing structure "makes sure that the peak period experience is optimised by avoiding overcrowding".

It added that "these changes enable greater flexibility for guests booking online to choose discounted prices for select dates and times."

Merlin Entertainments Chief Executive, Scott O'Neil explained “we had it in 2023 and we had the highest guest satisfaction scores in the history of the company, and seven million additional guests.

"So we're definitely getting the signal that our processes are moving in the right direction".

Dynamic pricing models used by companies such as Uber and airlines has been criticised partly due to its lack of transparency about why prices are high some of the time.

In February, USA burger chain Wendy's was quick to clarify that it was not introducing dynamic, or ‘surge’ pricing. One of the company's most high-profile critics, Democratic party senator Elizabeth Warren, said the plans meant people "could pay more for your lunch, even if the cost to Wendy's stays exactly the same".

O'Neil went on to say that dynamic pricing would help "protect the guest experience" during busier times of the year by managing queues, where waits of more than an hour are routine.

Earlier this week Merlin advised of record revenues of £2.1 billion (US$2.65 billion) in 2023, an increase of 8% year on year, with much of the revenue coming from international tourists visiting London.

The company advised that nearly one in every four visitors to the UK capital came to a Merlin attraction.

Image: Legoland California. Credit: Merlin Entertainments.

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