A lesson from the wizardry of Harry Potter


When I read about something succeeding beyond expectation, I always want to know why. So, when the Orlando Sentinel recently reported Universal Orlando posted its best quarterly results in the resort’s 20 year history with revenue up 62 percent and profits more than double, it got my attention. After all, most amusement parks have been working hard just to keep even. 

The answer for Universal: Harry Potter waived his magic wand and voila! It really all began with the idea of adapting J.K. Rowling’s series to the big screen. The amazing success of that decision has now grossed more than $5.4 billion and been seen by untold millions worldwide -- a nice beginning to be sure, but just the beginning.

Today, if soaring over Hogwarts or coming face-to-face with a Hungarian Horntail is your passion, you’ll find it all in the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter.” That’s where Universal has taken what’s on the movie screen and brought it to life in its newest attraction – a state-of-the-art, 20-acre “immersive experience.” And that is what’s busting down Universal’s gates and pushing up its fortunes.

A key to the success of the amusement business is to continually add new attractions. While most theme parks have added something, this year’s big winner is clearly Universal’s Harry Potter, voted 2010’s Best New Attraction by ThemeParkInsider.com.

As marine dealers, I’m not leading up to a suggestion that we can replicate the magic of Ollivander’s wand shop. Oh, that we could! But we can recognize the policy of adding something new is a good business model. “New” draws people. In our case, new boat models are one built-in way. However, new services, owner/user events and other new reasons to visit our dealerships and become regular customers are things we need to do if we want to keep attracting customers and prospects.

We don’t have Harry Potter fame going for us. Still, we need to be inventive in creating new programs that will draw people through our doors. Indeed, if you haven’t added anything new to your marketing mix this past year, now’s a great time to gather your staff together, bring in lunch and brainstorm some new program ideas for 2010. 

Finally, if you have held some new events or implemented new services that have been successful in your area, I invite you to tell us about them here!