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Profile
Mario Mamon

Mario Mamon discusses his new role as chair of IAAPA, doubling the size of his theme park Enchanted Kingdom in the Philippines and the devastation of Super Typhoon Haiyan

By Julie Cramer | Published in Attractions Management 2014 issue 2

IAAPA role

What does your role as IAAPA chair involve?
It involves multiple roles. Aside from presiding over the board and executive finance committee meetings of the association, I also travel extensively around the world to represent the association in events and meetings, as well as visit as many member attractions and national associations as possible. Throughout these travels. I promote the ‘One World, One IAAPA’ mantra and talk about the benefits I’ve enjoyed as a member of association myself.

I’m also helping lead the implementation of IAAPA’s 2013-15 Strategic Plan and the new governance and organisational initiatives that were approved last year by the board.

What’s your background?
I wasn’t born into the industry. A little over 20 years ago, my previous life was in agribusiness, sugar cane farming to be exact. We shifted our whole business and lives when our agricultural lands became very expensive to utilise for farming and converted it for other uses. With the capital that we were able to accumulate, we decided on a line of business that was almost pioneering in the Philippines – the attractions business.

I like to think my overall experience in shifting from agribusiness to amusement, including organising, building and managing a theme park from scratch has helped prepare me for this role.

I’ve literally gone through a rollercoaster ride with the business before getting it right after a decade and a half. Most of all, having IAAPA by my side, even before Enchanted Kingdom was opened, will help me bring a lot of insights and hands-on experience that I can share in my role as chairman.

What are your plans for the role?
Having been part of the IAAPA “officialdom” since I was elected as third vice-chairman in 2010 has helped me prepare for the chairman’s position. Moving through the various leadership roles I’ve developed an understanding that allows me to concentrate on various IAAPA businesses and concerns at hand.

Even though IAAPA is undergoing continuous change and evolution into a truly global association, my plans are simple … nothing drastic and revolutionary. I’m focusing on the existing strategic and business plans and gradual implementation of the governance and organisational initiatives.

My day-to-day work involves juggling a schedule that transcends multiple time zones. My regular work schedule would be dedicated as much as possible to running the affairs of Enchanted Kingdom and our other businesses, but as the sun sets over our horizon, I shift and concentrate on matters regarding IAAPA that need my attention and the attention of the executive and finance committee and the board of directors.

Just as I try to coordinate and orchestrate our work at Enchanted Kingdom, then to the best of my ability and with the proper advice from my peers, I do the same for IAAPA.

What challenges does the industry face?
Current challenges include safety standards development and harmonisation, protection of intellectual property rights, education and training. Safety is our top priority whether it be in rides, facilities, food or merchandise.

Safety standards may be different based on which part of the world you are in. We want to encourage the consistent adoption of the existing safety standards, like ASTM International and EN, around the globe.

The protection of intellectual property rights refers to various rides and attractions, ideas and innovations, which are sometimes copied by different groups from all geographies of the world. There should be respect for the innovators and inventors and we need to do what we can to protect and encourage innovation.

Quality education and training, in all aspects of the industry, are needed as the industry continues to grow all over the world, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. Education and training not only hone and upgrade skill sets to meet or exceed international standards, they also prepare the next generation of workers, managers, and leaders in the industry.

What are the recent successes?
Recent successes of IAAPA include the ongoing growth and development of the association’s trade shows and conferences around the world. They showcase the best and newest products and services in the industry, and provide outstanding educational programmes that can enhance the state and standard of the industry. The continuing evolution of IAAPA into a global association through the adoption of its three-year strategic plan and the gradual implementation of governance initiatives are very definitive calls to action that will benefit the industry in the years to come.

What excites you about this industry?
The main thing that excites me is that this industry transcends all generations and will stand the test of time. I’m also excited because it involves people and family, the latter being very important to me personally.

This industry is able to evolve and morph itself based on what guests want, using technology and the like, but always not forgetting superlative guest service as integral to the continued success of the industry. I’m also excited about the continued potential of the industry in its various forms of rides and attractions, entertainment, food and merchandise, to name a few.

How do you see the future?
I see the industry developing based on the needs and wants of its consumer base. Attractions operators will always be on the lookout for “what’s in” and “what’s not”. It’s a continuously evolving process.

Enchanted Kingdom

Why are you doubling the size of Enchanted Kingdom?
We’re doubling its size in the next five to 10 years because it’s our grand plan to convert it from a standalone theme park into an integrated resort destination without the gaming component, the Disney model so to speak.

We’ve continuously exceeded our design-day capacity and increasing our footprint and redeveloping our existing area are the best ways to increase capacity and improve overall guest experience. It’s also partly targeted to accommodate the growing number of foreign tourists making the Philippines one of their destinations in Asia. We want to evolve into a prominent regional player in the industry within five years.

With the improving and increasing inbound tourism traffic into the Philippines, we are looking at increasing this share of the market, although predominantly, our market will still be the local population.

How’s it being funded?
Funding for our expansion project will be a combination of equity, loans, and possible partnerships/joint ventures with foreign groups that may be interested and who share a common vision with what we are setting out to do.

What will be the changes?
At this point in time, it would be safe to say that we shall be redeveloping our existing park, but not before we increase the footprint by adding more themed areas and rides and attractions.

We’re also adding retail, dining, and entertainment experiences, lodging for the park, a convention facility to target the growing MICE market and further on, a waterpark with a hotel. Remaining areas that we have may host institutional and business process outsourcing (BPO) campuses, especially those related to the amusement and attractions industry, like animation and film.

What will be the star attractions?
At this point in time, the expanded footprint of the theme park will include new zones, each with their signature ride and/or attraction. These zones may include a Philippine themed-zone for foreign tourists and locals; a themed zone for teens with high adrenaline rides; a signature fairy tale themed zone for our main character, Eldar the Wizard; the new world-class regional convention centre with lodging facilities; and the new full-scale waterpark with rides and slides never seen in the local market before.

What’s your long-term vision?
My long-term vision for Enchanted Kingdom is to be able to convert it from what it is now, a standalone theme park attraction, into an integrated destination resort patterned after the Disney model of wholesome leisure and entertainment for families, without a gaming component.

The Philippines

How is life after the typhoon?
The country’s slowly but steadily recovering from the super typhoon. Thanks in a very big way to the very positive response of the entire international community of nations, this coping and recovery process have been greatly accelerated and supported. Having seen the devastation as it was, it clearly is a long process, but we shall overcome it, maybe sooner than later.

How did the attractions industry respond to the disaster?
Like in other industries, there was an outpouring of support and I learned that big groups like Disney, Universal, and even Ocean Park in Hong Kong contributed to their favourite charities to channel their share. As for Enchanted Kingdom, we ran our own fundraising campaign for cash and goods, and even offered an operational day’s revenue to be donated to the cause. The responses were truly heartwarming, to say the least.

Was the park affected?
Being in the main island of Luzon, we were not affected because we weren’t in the wider path of the super typhoon. Originally, we were on the fringe, but luckily for us, the path veered southward. We had no damage to facilities whatsoever. Indirectly, our holiday business was affected because some corporate bookings were postponed for another time or cancelled because the funds that were originally allocated for these were re-allocated to the various public and private relief efforts.

How long will it take for the industry to bounce back?
If we’re referring to the amusement and attractions industry in the country, I think we have bounced back. There was a dip in November but we ended our December with the highest attendance and revenue figures in our 18-year history, and the same for January and February, 2014.

IAAPA’s priority is improved safety across rides, facilities, food and merchandising
Future plans for Mamon’s family park include retail, dining, lodging, convention centre and waterpark
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Profile
Mario Mamon

Mario Mamon discusses his new role as chair of IAAPA, doubling the size of his theme park Enchanted Kingdom in the Philippines and the devastation of Super Typhoon Haiyan

By Julie Cramer | Published in Attractions Management 2014 issue 2

IAAPA role

What does your role as IAAPA chair involve?
It involves multiple roles. Aside from presiding over the board and executive finance committee meetings of the association, I also travel extensively around the world to represent the association in events and meetings, as well as visit as many member attractions and national associations as possible. Throughout these travels. I promote the ‘One World, One IAAPA’ mantra and talk about the benefits I’ve enjoyed as a member of association myself.

I’m also helping lead the implementation of IAAPA’s 2013-15 Strategic Plan and the new governance and organisational initiatives that were approved last year by the board.

What’s your background?
I wasn’t born into the industry. A little over 20 years ago, my previous life was in agribusiness, sugar cane farming to be exact. We shifted our whole business and lives when our agricultural lands became very expensive to utilise for farming and converted it for other uses. With the capital that we were able to accumulate, we decided on a line of business that was almost pioneering in the Philippines – the attractions business.

I like to think my overall experience in shifting from agribusiness to amusement, including organising, building and managing a theme park from scratch has helped prepare me for this role.

I’ve literally gone through a rollercoaster ride with the business before getting it right after a decade and a half. Most of all, having IAAPA by my side, even before Enchanted Kingdom was opened, will help me bring a lot of insights and hands-on experience that I can share in my role as chairman.

What are your plans for the role?
Having been part of the IAAPA “officialdom” since I was elected as third vice-chairman in 2010 has helped me prepare for the chairman’s position. Moving through the various leadership roles I’ve developed an understanding that allows me to concentrate on various IAAPA businesses and concerns at hand.

Even though IAAPA is undergoing continuous change and evolution into a truly global association, my plans are simple … nothing drastic and revolutionary. I’m focusing on the existing strategic and business plans and gradual implementation of the governance and organisational initiatives.

My day-to-day work involves juggling a schedule that transcends multiple time zones. My regular work schedule would be dedicated as much as possible to running the affairs of Enchanted Kingdom and our other businesses, but as the sun sets over our horizon, I shift and concentrate on matters regarding IAAPA that need my attention and the attention of the executive and finance committee and the board of directors.

Just as I try to coordinate and orchestrate our work at Enchanted Kingdom, then to the best of my ability and with the proper advice from my peers, I do the same for IAAPA.

What challenges does the industry face?
Current challenges include safety standards development and harmonisation, protection of intellectual property rights, education and training. Safety is our top priority whether it be in rides, facilities, food or merchandise.

Safety standards may be different based on which part of the world you are in. We want to encourage the consistent adoption of the existing safety standards, like ASTM International and EN, around the globe.

The protection of intellectual property rights refers to various rides and attractions, ideas and innovations, which are sometimes copied by different groups from all geographies of the world. There should be respect for the innovators and inventors and we need to do what we can to protect and encourage innovation.

Quality education and training, in all aspects of the industry, are needed as the industry continues to grow all over the world, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. Education and training not only hone and upgrade skill sets to meet or exceed international standards, they also prepare the next generation of workers, managers, and leaders in the industry.

What are the recent successes?
Recent successes of IAAPA include the ongoing growth and development of the association’s trade shows and conferences around the world. They showcase the best and newest products and services in the industry, and provide outstanding educational programmes that can enhance the state and standard of the industry. The continuing evolution of IAAPA into a global association through the adoption of its three-year strategic plan and the gradual implementation of governance initiatives are very definitive calls to action that will benefit the industry in the years to come.

What excites you about this industry?
The main thing that excites me is that this industry transcends all generations and will stand the test of time. I’m also excited because it involves people and family, the latter being very important to me personally.

This industry is able to evolve and morph itself based on what guests want, using technology and the like, but always not forgetting superlative guest service as integral to the continued success of the industry. I’m also excited about the continued potential of the industry in its various forms of rides and attractions, entertainment, food and merchandise, to name a few.

How do you see the future?
I see the industry developing based on the needs and wants of its consumer base. Attractions operators will always be on the lookout for “what’s in” and “what’s not”. It’s a continuously evolving process.

Enchanted Kingdom

Why are you doubling the size of Enchanted Kingdom?
We’re doubling its size in the next five to 10 years because it’s our grand plan to convert it from a standalone theme park into an integrated resort destination without the gaming component, the Disney model so to speak.

We’ve continuously exceeded our design-day capacity and increasing our footprint and redeveloping our existing area are the best ways to increase capacity and improve overall guest experience. It’s also partly targeted to accommodate the growing number of foreign tourists making the Philippines one of their destinations in Asia. We want to evolve into a prominent regional player in the industry within five years.

With the improving and increasing inbound tourism traffic into the Philippines, we are looking at increasing this share of the market, although predominantly, our market will still be the local population.

How’s it being funded?
Funding for our expansion project will be a combination of equity, loans, and possible partnerships/joint ventures with foreign groups that may be interested and who share a common vision with what we are setting out to do.

What will be the changes?
At this point in time, it would be safe to say that we shall be redeveloping our existing park, but not before we increase the footprint by adding more themed areas and rides and attractions.

We’re also adding retail, dining, and entertainment experiences, lodging for the park, a convention facility to target the growing MICE market and further on, a waterpark with a hotel. Remaining areas that we have may host institutional and business process outsourcing (BPO) campuses, especially those related to the amusement and attractions industry, like animation and film.

What will be the star attractions?
At this point in time, the expanded footprint of the theme park will include new zones, each with their signature ride and/or attraction. These zones may include a Philippine themed-zone for foreign tourists and locals; a themed zone for teens with high adrenaline rides; a signature fairy tale themed zone for our main character, Eldar the Wizard; the new world-class regional convention centre with lodging facilities; and the new full-scale waterpark with rides and slides never seen in the local market before.

What’s your long-term vision?
My long-term vision for Enchanted Kingdom is to be able to convert it from what it is now, a standalone theme park attraction, into an integrated destination resort patterned after the Disney model of wholesome leisure and entertainment for families, without a gaming component.

The Philippines

How is life after the typhoon?
The country’s slowly but steadily recovering from the super typhoon. Thanks in a very big way to the very positive response of the entire international community of nations, this coping and recovery process have been greatly accelerated and supported. Having seen the devastation as it was, it clearly is a long process, but we shall overcome it, maybe sooner than later.

How did the attractions industry respond to the disaster?
Like in other industries, there was an outpouring of support and I learned that big groups like Disney, Universal, and even Ocean Park in Hong Kong contributed to their favourite charities to channel their share. As for Enchanted Kingdom, we ran our own fundraising campaign for cash and goods, and even offered an operational day’s revenue to be donated to the cause. The responses were truly heartwarming, to say the least.

Was the park affected?
Being in the main island of Luzon, we were not affected because we weren’t in the wider path of the super typhoon. Originally, we were on the fringe, but luckily for us, the path veered southward. We had no damage to facilities whatsoever. Indirectly, our holiday business was affected because some corporate bookings were postponed for another time or cancelled because the funds that were originally allocated for these were re-allocated to the various public and private relief efforts.

How long will it take for the industry to bounce back?
If we’re referring to the amusement and attractions industry in the country, I think we have bounced back. There was a dip in November but we ended our December with the highest attendance and revenue figures in our 18-year history, and the same for January and February, 2014.

IAAPA’s priority is improved safety across rides, facilities, food and merchandising
Future plans for Mamon’s family park include retail, dining, lodging, convention centre and waterpark
 


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